Looking for a fun sewing project that’s both practical and stylish? In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through making a lined tote bag in under 1 hour. It’s the perfect accessory for carrying groceries and books or to use instead of your handbag on errand days.

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Why Choose a Lined Tote Bag?

You may be wondering why a lined tote bag is a good option. The lining adds extra durability and strength to the bag, so you don’t need to worry about it tearing, even when carrying heavier items. Plus, a lined tote bag looks super polished and professional, making it perfect for work meetings to carry your laptop and notebooks like I am!

Tools & Materials You’ll Need:

What Is The Best Fabric For Tote Bags?

If you’re looking to make a durable tote bag, picking the right fabrics is key! You’ll want to go with materials like cotton poplin, quilting cotton, cotton drill, linen, or calico for the outside of the bag. These fabrics are easy to work with and can be used daily.

For the lining, choose a cotton fabric that matches the outside for a polished, put-together look.

If you want to learn more about fabrics, check out my guide to types of fabrics and materials with names and pictures or my guide to sustainable fabrics.

Does A Tote Bag Need Interfacing?

It depends on the fabric you use and the finished look you want. I went with a quilting cotton that has no structure, so it flops onto the surface when the bag is empty. For a sturdy tote bag, use a sturdier fabric like cotton drill or canvas. You can also apply fusible interfacing to add more structure.

If you are looking for more easy beginner sewing projects, check out these:

How Much Material Do I Need For A Tote Bag?

I have made this a standard tote bag size: 33cm x 38cm (13 x 15 inches). I used 1/2 yard for the outer layer and 1/2 yard for the lining with some leftover fabric!

How to Make an Easy Tote Bag

Step 1: Cut out the tote bag pieces

Begin by cutting out the fabric pieces for your tote bag.

Outer Fabric: Cut 2 rectangles of fabric measuring 35cm x 42cm (13.8 inches x 16.5 inches). Also, cut 2 rectangles 10cm x 57cm (4 x 22.4 inches).

Lining Fabric: Cut 2 rectangles of fabric measuring 35cm x 42cm (13.8 inches x 16.5 inches).

Cut out 2cm x 2cm (0.8 x 0.8 inches) squares from the bottom edge corners on the outer and lining pieces. This will create a box corner when we sew the tote bag together.

Step 2: Sew the seams together

Place the outer fabric rectangles right sides together and pin the sides and bottom. With a 1cm (0.4 inches) seam allowance, sew the sides together, backstitching at the beginning and end. Repeat the same steps for the lining fabric.

Step 3: Create the box corners

The corners will be sewn into box corners to give your tote bag depth and structure. Take one corner of the outer fabric and bring the side and bottom seam together. Line them up and pin them in place. Sew the corner with a 1cm seam allowance (0.4 inches), backstitching at the beginning and end. Repeat these steps for the remaining corners of the outer and lining fabric.

Step 4: Make the straps

Fold both strips in half lengthwise and press (1). Unfold the strips, fold the raw edges toward the centre, and press to crease (2). Fold the strip in half again and press, enclosing the raw edges (3). Topstitch along both long edges of the straps, securing the folds in place (4).

Step 5: Attach the straps to the tote bag

Measure 5cm in from the side seams of the outer fabric and pin the strap to the top edges of the bag. Repeat for the other side. Double-check that the straps are evenly spaced and not twisted.

Step 6: Sewing the lining and outer bag together

Turn the outer bag right side out, keeping the lining fabric inside out. Slip the lining into the outer bag, aligning the side seams and matching the box corners. Pin the top edges together. Sew around the edge with a 1cm seam allowance (0.4 inches), leaving a 4cm (1.6 inch) gap in the seam. (I made mine a bit too big!)

Turn the back right sides out through the gap in the seam. Push the lining inside the outer bag and press the top edge of the bag to make them crisp and neat. Pin the gap in the seam closed and stitch around the top with a 5mm (0.2 inch) seam.

Congratulations! Your new lined tote bag is all set and good to go! You can now strut your stuff at work meetings with style and practicality, carrying all your essentials in one fashionable tote.

Lined Tote Bag Conclusion

You’ve just learned how to make a beautiful, practical, lined tote bag perfect for beginners. This DIY project is not only fun, but it’s also practical. Whether you’re carrying your work essentials or running errands, your new tote bag will come in handy. Happy sewing!

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