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Shaped Tote Bag Project

Shaped tote bag

This shaped tote bag project was originally designed by Janet Goddard – – for Makower UK, who kindly supplied the pattern and the fabrics for this useful shaped tote bag.

This quick and easy to make shaped tote bag project is ideal for carrying all your essentials. 

Free tote bag project

You will need…

Fabric One for centre panel of outer bag – 50cm

Fabric Two for squares on the outer bag – 15cm

Fabric Three for side panels on the outer bag – 35cm

Fabric Four for handles – 20cm

Fabric Five for lining – 50cm

Fusible Wadding – 50cm

(We used Sundance by Beth Studley, kindly supplied by Makower UK – visit the website to see the full range)


1/4 inch seams used throughout.

All fabric quantities are cut across width of fabric (WOF) and allow for one way designs.

Cutting fabrics

Fabric One – cut two 6 1/2 x 17 1/2 inch rectangles

Fabric Two – cut four 5 1/2 inch squares

Fabric Three – cut four 5 1/2 x 12 1/2 inch rectangles

Fabric Four – cut two 3 1/2 x 26 inch strips

Fabric Five – cut one 16 1/2 x 17 1/2 inch rectangles

Wadding – cut two 16 1/2 x 17 1/2 inch rectangles and two 1 x 26 inch strips

To Sew

Easy patchwork bag to sew

Make side panels

Stitch a 5 1/2 inch square of fabric two to one end of each of the fabric three rectangles and press seams towards the rectangles.

How to sew a patchwork tote

Stitch the two completed units to each side of fabric one rectangle, ensuring that the squares are placed at the top of these units, Press seams away from the centre fabric.

Iron the rectangles of fusible wadding to the reverse of the bag panels.


Shaped tote sewing pattern

Shape the bag

Shape the bag by marking 3 inches from the outer edge at the bottom of each outer bag unit. Place a ruler on the outer edge at the top of the right side of the bag and on the 3 inch marking you just made at the bottom of the bag. Draw a line and cut the wedge shape away. Repeat for all four corners of the outer bag pieces.

Place the outer bag pieces on top of each other, right sides facing, matching seams and stitch down both sides and across the bottom.

Step by step patchwork tote bag tutorial
Free patchwork bag pattern

Shape the bag bottom

To shape the bag base, match the centre fold of the base with each side seam. Measure 2 inches along the seam line from the outer point, pin and draw a line from edge to edge horizontally. Stitch on the line and trim excess fabric with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Turn the bag through to the right side.

How to make bag handles

Make the handles

Take the two strips of fabric four and press under 1/4 inch on one long edge for each handle. Lay the fusible wadding down the centre of the wrong side of each handle and fuse, following manufacturer’s instructions.

how to make fabric bag straps

Fold the raw edge of the handle to the centre of the wadding and then the folded edge on top. The folded edge should overlap the raw edge to enclose the handle.

Learn how to sew straps for a bag

Pin and topstitch down the folded edge. Topstitch along each outer edge to finish neatly.

Pin the raw edges of the handles to the raw edge of the bag tops with right sides facing so the handles are hanging down. Get them in the right place by positioning each end of the handle over the central panel seam on each side. Tack them into position with a long tacking stitch. 


Make the lining

Fold the fabric five lining piece together with right sides facing and then shape the lining in the same way as for the main bag piece. Sew down the sides leaving a 4 inch gap on one of the sides for turning the bag out later.

Shape the base as before.


Complete the bag

Place the outer bag right inside the lining with right sides facing and ensure that you have pushed the handles right down between the two layers. Line up the tops, side seams and raw edges of the bag and lining and then stitch around the top edge, securing your thread at the start and finish. 

Turn the bag through the gap and then press the top of the bag so that it lies nice and flat. 

Finish with a row of topstitch around the top of the bag and then slipstitch the lining gap closed.

Easy patchwork tote project for beginners
Makower shaped tote bag project with step by step photos

For other free bag projects visit our sewing projects page and click the bags tag.