How to Sew an Easy Quilted Tote Bag

The quilted tote bag I share with you on this post is easy to make, great for using all those fabric scraps laying around and a very nice present for a friend, a loved one or for yourself!

This project is perfect for beginners wanting to learn how to quilt and for those who would like to start their quilting journey with something more approachable than a whole quilt. 

Now, are you ready to start? :)

Step-by-step Quilted Tote Bag for beginners

Materials needed and what to cut

The two outer bag layers are made out of 50 x 2 1/2'' squares pieced together as well as a bottom panel. The bag is lined and I used cotton webbing for the straps. The final dimensions of the tote bag are 3.5’’x14’’x18'' (9cm x 34cm x 46cm).

  • Fabric:
    • For the 100 x 2 1/2'' squares I used Ruby Star Society quilting cotton ‘Starry’ and 'Pixel' collection leftovers.
    • For the two bottom panels measuring 4 3/4''x19.5'' (13.5cm x 52cm) each, I used Ruby Star Society quilting cotton 'Hole Punch' collection leftover.
    • The lining pieces that measure 14.5''x19.5'' (38.5cm x 51cm) each are from the Ruby Star 'Sugar Rush' collection. You can add interfacingto the lining to make it sturdier.
    • Last, I used low loft wadding measuring around 3 inches more all around than the finished, already sewn outer layers measuring 14.5''x19.5'' (38.5cm x 51cm).
  • Cotton webbing for the straps.
  • Thread.
  • Regular presser foot, walking foot and optional 1/4'' presser foot
  • Quilting ruler.
  • Rotary cutter and cutting mat.
  • Sewing machine and usual sewing tools like pins, iron and ironing board, unpicker...

Steps to make your tote bag

1. Cut the 100 2 1/2'' squares that you need for the outer layers for your tote bag. Figure out the placement of your squares (50 for each side of your bag) on a table or on the floor and take pictures to remember the ones you are happy with.

These are the 50 squares I used for one of the sides

2. Star sewing the squares with right sides together in rows and using a 1/4'' seam allowance. When finishing the first row, press all seams towards the same direction. Repeat for the second row and press the seams in the opposite direction. Alternate pressing direction between blocks.

3. Now, with right sides together, pin and sew the first two rows. For this, nest seams so that the squares fit like a jigsaw when sewn. Find more tips on how to nest seams on the blog. Sew using a 1/4'' seam allowance and press that seam open.

Repeat with the rest of rows.

4. Now, add the bottom pannel with RST and using the same seam allowance as before. Press that seam open or towards the darker fabric. Do the same with the other outer layer of the bag, the other 50 squares and the bottom pannel.

5. Pick up your wadding or batting and place it underneath one of your finished outer layers. Think which quilt design you would like to go for and mark it with a fabric pen on top of the outer layer if necessary and place a few safety pins or regular pins to keep the two layers in place while quilting them.

For my bag, I opted for simple straight vertical and horizontal lines close to the seams of the squares and straight lines for the bottom pannel, separated by the distance of the edge of the presser foot. It is a good idea to use a walking foot for this step. Find more help on how to quilt it on the blog.

6. When both outer layers are quilted, trim the extra wadding from all sides.

Now, with right sides together, pin and sew the twoouter layers using a 1cm seam allowance along the sides and bottom.


7. Then, pick up the lining pieces (which should have the same measurement than the finished outer layers) and repeat the same step but leaving a 3'' / 5cm gap unstitched on one of the side seams (to turn the bag right side out at a later stage).

8. Now, turn the outer bag wrong side out and push out the bottom. Flatten and measure 2" (5cm) from the point and draw a straight line. Do this to both ends of the outer bag and the lining. Sew on top of that line and then trim the extra leaving a 1m seam allowance. This will create the bottom of the bag.

9. Pick up your cotton webbing for the straps and measure how long would you like them to be. Mine are 31’’ (79cm) each. Choose where would you like to place them at either side of the top raw edge of your outer bag and pin them as shown below. Stitch them in place using the edge of the presser foot as seam allowance.

10. Now, with the outer layer right side out and the lining wrong side out, place the outer bag inside of the lining and pin both together around the top (the edge of the straps is sandwiched in between). Sew using a 1cm seam allowance.

11. Turn the bag to the right side through the gap you left on the lining and stitch it closed. Then, give everything a good press. The last step would bee to top stitch the bag around the top to make sure that the lining doesn't start showing from the right side.

And your super cute quilted tote bag is done! :)

I hope you liked this post and that you will try and give it a go :)

Thanks for reading and happy sewing and quilting!



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