Today Bella and I are making a tote with an easy pattern for a tote bag. This is a great beginner sewing project for kids.

Bella is rockin her new tote. It is always fun to make something you can use!

tote bag for kids to sew
Free Sewing Pattern

Free Tote Bag Pattern Download

SINGER & Skip to my Lou Kids Series Tote Bag Project

We did follow their pattern however I did iron the straps a bit differently. Up to now, Bella has been choosing fabric from my stash, but for this project, we made a trip to the fabric store. It was fun to see what she picked out. I must admit it was sorta hard to not pick it out for her. I gave her a few things to “think about’ though (without trying to be too pushy haha). I reminded her a tote gets a lot of wear so a darker color might be nice. We laid her choices out so she could decide which went together best. She did a great job!

Supplies for Easy Tote Bag

You will need:

  • 1/2 yard of sturdy woven fabric for the main fabric of the bag and handles (canvas and heavy weight cotton all work)
  • 1/4 yard of the band
  • thread
  • scissors
  • sewing machine
Fabric for the bag and handles for your Easy Tote Bag
Fabric for the Easy Tote Bag

Cutting Guide

  • Cut one 10” X 20” main tote fabric
  • Cut one 10” X 20” main tote fabric
  • Cut two 5” X 20” main tote fabric for handles
  • Cut one 8” X 20” band fabric

Sewing Instructions

Fold the 10” X 20” fabric in half to make a 10” X 10” square. Make sure the right sides (pretty sides) are inside the square.  Choose a stretch overcast stitch from your machine. We used a stitch that made a seam and overcast stitch all in one. Sew along the non-folded side (picture).

Now sew along the bottom of the tote. The bottom of the tote depends upon the fabric you choose. If the fabric has a definite up/down pattern, make sure you sew the opening so that when you turn the tote inside out, the pattern is going in the proper direction.

bottom of tote bag sewed
Sewing the bottom of the Tote

Fold the 8” X 20” piece of band fabric in half to make an 8” X 10” rectangle. Make sure the right (pretty) side is inside the rectangle. Sew along the non-folded 8″ edge.

Sew the band for the tote bag
Making the Band

Fold the band in half lengthwise with the wrong (back) side in and the right (pretty) side out so you
have a 4” X 20” circle of fabric. Press. (I am still doing the ironing for Bella).

Press the band for the tote bag right side out.
Press the Band

Place the circle band fabric around the top of the main tote piece. Line up the side seams on both the band and the tote. Also, line up the top raw (unfinished) edge of the tote and the raw (unfinished) edge of the band. The folded edge of the band will be pointing down toward the
bottom of the tote. Pin the band to the main tote. Place the pins perpendicular to the raw edges. Remind kids to NOT SEW OVER PINS! Remove the pins as you sew. 

If possible set your machine for the Free Arm sewing. Pull off the accessory tray or follow the sewing machine owner’s manual for how to set for a Free Arm. The free arm makes it easy to sew in circles and smaller places.

Sew on the band and through all 3 layers of fabric with the same stitch used to make the seams.

Sew the band to the tote bag.
Sewing Band to the Tote

Flip the band up and press. Now you have made the body of the bag.

Press band up on the tote bag.

Now it is time for the bag handles.  Press the 5″ X 20″ strips in half.

Press fabric for strap in half.
Starting the straps for the Easy Tote Bag

Next, open up the fabric and bring each side to the center, and press.

Bring each side of the strap to the center and press.

Now, fold it in half. Press.

Fold tote bag strap in half and press.
Fold in half and press again

Sew along each side. I forgot about the ends being raw. So when the straps were done, we turned each end up about 1/4 of an inch and sewed. (make sure when you are attaching the straps place the unfinished edge of the strap towards the tote).

Sew each side of strap.
Stitch sides of the strap

Lay the tote folded in half on a surface with the seam on the left side of the tote and the opening to the top. Place the side of the strap over 1 inch from the side and the other end of the strap one inch over from the other side. Place 1” of the strap end under the band to the inside of the tote. Pin. Flip the bag over and align the back handle the same way with 1” of the handle inside the tote and 1” from each side of the back.

Pin straps to tote bag.
Pin straps to tote bag

Starting at a side, sew around the whole top of the tote, making sure the tote handles are flat as you sew over them.  When you finish the seam, stitch over your beginning sewing by 3 or 4 stitches. Sew another line of stitching around the top of the band, aligning the first row of stitching with the right side of the presser foot. These two seams will hold the handles securely.

Take out your tote and trim your threads.

Sew straps to the tote bag
Sew strap to the tote bag


Cutie, carrying the finished tote bag!
Beginner Sewing Project for Kids!

RELATED: This tote would make a great handmade teacher gift idea. How proud a young sewist would feel being able to make their very own gift for their teacher! Just add this “You are Toteally Awesome” gift tag for a gift any teacher would love.

My Favorite Sewing Tools

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Easy Sewing Projects for Kids

Learning to sew is fun for kids and adults. If you are interested in teaching kids to sew here are some first projects to work on those sewing skills.

Keep on Sewing With These Easy Sewing Projects for Totes…

Here are more free tote bag sewing patterns.

I would love to keep you fully stocked with creative ideas, yummy recipes, fun crafts, and loads of free printables. Subscribe to Skip to my Lou to get new ideas delivered to your inbox. Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram for all my latest updates.

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  1. My girls both have machines, I see where you have dot to dot printables for them to start learning the machine, where can I find them. Thanks

  2. Helps to re-read a few times then it sunk in. Was going to blame it on Chemo Brain but decide it was just me. I finally made my very first project thank you so very much

  3. I am very new to sewing so please forgive my ignorance. I take it that you sew the band to make the circle complete. Where I am confused when you place that around the bag so the folded side is toward the button what or how do you close the unfinished top raw edges. If the handles go between the layers how do you do finish all around the top of the tote bag. Bella probably already knows the answer to that 🙂

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  5. I merely can’t go away completely your website just before suggesting i highly experienced the usual details an individual supply for your targeted traffic? Are going to be back again continually to examine new blogposts

  6. Would it be possible to sew the top band part to the lower bag part before you do the first step of sewing? That is how I make my pillowcases.

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