Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Step by steps for my zippered tote bag

I've had a few e mails from Europe asking for measurements for my bag in centimeters, and a bit of clarity for the zip insertion, so hopefully this is the answer! Please still watch the You Tube video, link in a previous post, as I think it's clearer to be shown how to make it rather than written instructions...

The lining is two rectangles of fabric measuring 46cm x 29cm,
and two rectangles measuring 46cm x 6cm

The outside of the bag is made up of two rectangles measuring 46cm x 33cm
the handles measure 46cm x 4", folded in half, press the edges inwards by 1cm and sewn down the sides.

My zip measures 50cm but I will cut it down a little, this is sewn into four strips of lining fabric, each measuring 36cm x 6cm,

The pocket on the front of the bag measures 23cm deep x 22cm wide, my zip is 23cm, I'll trim a bit off this, and the support for the zip is a piece of spare lining fabric measuring around 20cm x 10cm.

Draw a box on the back of this piece measuring 1cm x 15cm.

place this section centrally towards the top of the right side of the pocket and sew all the way round.
cut straight down the centre of the box, stopping 0.5cm from the end, and mitre your cut into the corners, careful not to cut through the stitches.

Turn the right way out and press, You should have a neat hole in the middle of your fabric!

Place your smaller zip behind the hole, pin, tack and sew as in the video.
Fold the edges of the pocket inwards by 1.5cm and press.
Pin the pocket centrally to the front of the bag and sew all the way round.

Take the four strips of fabric that will hold the long zip, and press the short ends under by 1cm.
sandwich the zip centrally between two pieces of fabric, line up the edges  and sew with the zipper foot on your machine.
Fold both sides open to expose the zip, and press.

Repeat with the other side of the zip, I've top stitched along the zip to neaten, then top stitch across the ends of the fabric strips, avoiding the teeth of the zip.
Make a couple of little pockets and sew them to the ends of the zip as tabs. [I cut about 3cm from the ends of my zip first]

Take the large piece of lining fabric and lay it right side up.
PLace the zipped section on top, centrally, with the slider of the zip facing up.
Lay the narrower strip of lining fabric on top, right side down.
sew across the top, then open up and press.

Repeat with the other side.

This is how the top of the lining of the bag should look.

Take the front of the bag and pin or sew the handle facing inwards in line with the pocket, then do the same with the back of the bag so that the handles are in the same place.

Sew the top of each side of the front of the bag, right sides together, to the top of the lining section. 
This is how the bag now looks.

Fold the right sides of the front of the bag together, and the same with the lining, then sew all the way around the edge leaving an opening of about 15cm across the bottom of the lining for turning.

Make the base of the bag square, it's easier to watch the video than me trying to explain this in writing, but basically your stitch line should make a triangle 5cm from the point of the corner.

Turn the right way out, then sew together the opening in the lining either by hand or machine.
Press, then top stitch around the top of the bag to make neat.

Shopping time!


  1. Thank you! Loved your video, with measurements in centimeters was easier to understand. A big kiss.

  2. Great tutorial (as always) Thank you!! I'll start bag making classes in 2 weeks time and I think I'll impress my teacher with that bag! :D

  3. Awesome tutorial! Just watched it on YouTube!

  4. Hey Debs,
    I have been watching you on C&C for years as a presenter but my main aim has been to watch you on all the sewing shows. You always amaze me with your talent but mainly the speed at which you make something. I have just finished watching a show you did with Nigel just into the new year that I had recorded. You made a tote bag similar to the one in this post with the Toyota Jeans machine, and its gorgeous, I would be so honoured to own something you made. I wanted you to know that you, and you alone have inspired me to sew! I am 46yrs old and the last time I did anything with a sewing machine was the 1st and last time, a pair of bermuda shorts ( I even did my own pattern) I wore them throughout the summer holidays when I was 14, but that was that. During my adulthood I have always wanted a sewing machine, knowing I couldn't sew really as I hadn't done anything other than the shorts. Anyway, one day I received a large parcel via courier and it was a Brother ES6000 digital with 60 stitches, my beloved hubby had bought me a brand new machine, this was 8 years ago and I have never used it, I am petrified of it. This is a woman who is an accomplished craft designer and oil painting self taught artist, but this thing frightens me, it is a running joke in my family, I call it 'my nemesis'. I don't even know how to thread the ruddy thing up, however, after watching you, yet again, I have decided to start paying attention to my nemesis and stop neglecting him, he ain't heavy, he's my brother!!! LOL.........actually he is lightweight, lol.........with your expert tuition, on here and your youtube channel I hope to be able to make loads of new things for my new house that we moved into just before Christmas, just gone (2013) so, I hope you can help me if I need any pointers, and I need to buy fabric but money is tight so I was thinking of upcycling some old curtains, I cannot wait to get started and its all your fault, lol, thanks so much Deb's for your encouragement, hugs, Vick xx
    YT Vixcrafts
    FB Vick Mcclean

  5. Hi Vick, how lovely to hear from you and I'm so glad to have inspired you a little! Let me know if you need any help, if I'm busy there are lots of like-minded folk on my forum, that will be able to help and advise.

  6. Hi Debbie , could you tell me where you get your fabric from, the one in the u tube video, this bag, thank you Tracey

  7. What is the finished size of this bag? Did I miss it somewhere?
    Thank You

    1. The outer fabric measures 46cm x 33cm so the finished bag will be slightly smaller, Deb

    2. Thank you for your prompt reply. Love your YouTube channel. :-)

  8. Hi Debbie .. love your bag style and Youtube for assembly .. how does the bag have any structure without interfacing or batting? I've never seen a bag stand up alone without it.

  9. Hi Debbie .. love your bag style and Youtube for assembly .. how does the bag have any structure without interfacing or batting? I've never seen a bag stand up alone without it.

  10. Awesome, thank you so much for the written instruction in cm. I have a "convert unitWs" app on my phone so used that to convert it. We go camping every year, and it is next to river so I made both my daughters a bag from a blue bull denim and lined it with bright orange rain mac (waterproof) fabric, also used orange zip. The blue and orange was such a striking colour combination. Lining with waterproof fabric was so ideal for those wet towels and cold drinks. When they came camping only my eldest brought her bag, and when I asked my younger daughter where her bag was her response was "This bag is too beautiful to mess up at the camp". Thanks you for sharing this awesome pattern with us!

  11. Wonderfull your explications! Thanks.