This bag has been my go-to summer tote bag. It’s been carried all over with my three kids in tow.
It was packed and ready to go even as I was late to VBS almost everyday. It held all the essentials when I actually managed to be on time to swim lessons for two weeks. It was with us for picnics, trips to the science center, and on my shoulder while I did copious amounts of note-taking at Costco and Aldi.
And now that summer is almost over, I can safely say that I love it. It’s perfectly sized with pockets-a-plenty, and I’m in love with the adjustable strap.
There’s also what I now consider to be a purse essential– an easily accessible clip for my keys.
Below you will find step-by-step instructions on how to make your own everyday zippered tote. The tutorial is geared to a sewer with a little experience, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
If you are a new sewer, check out this post with helpful tips and easy projects to get you started. I learned by following tutorials online. It’s totally doable!
I prefer to use duck cloth or home-decor weight fabric for making bags, with the added reinforcement of fusible fleece interfacing. I like a bag that can keep it’s shape well over time. A mid-to-heavyweight fabric is definitely what I would recommend for this bag.
Using leather-look-alike vinyl has also been a new obsession of mine. Buying real leather bags just isn’t in my budget right now and this vinyl looks so great for a fraction of the cost. Plus, it holds up well. I used it on a bag last Spring and it held up to daily use for a year. I’d still be using it now, but decided to make a larger summer bag. You don’t need a lot of the vinyl, and if you can snag it with a coupon, it turns out to be super affordable.
How to Make the Everyday Zippered Tote:
1. Cut the Pieces:
Press and cut the body pieces and the pocket pieces for the bag. (See pictures below for measurements).
Additional hardware needed: key clip.
2. Attach Interfacing:
Iron the fusible flecce interfacing onto the large exterior body piece and the side panels, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the perimeter.
3. Assemble & Attach Interior Pockets:
Sew a 1″ strip of vinyl to the top of each interior pocket piece. Fold and press the side edges and bottom edges of the pocket pieces towards the wrong side 1/4″ two times, hiding the raw edges. Pin and sew the pocket pieces to the interior panel to attach.
4. Assemble & Attach Large Front Zipper Pocket:
Take the 9″x 11″ lining piece and fold in half into a rectangle 4.5″ x 11″, right sides together. Sew around the entire perimeter, leaving a three inch opening for turning on one long side. Turn right side out and press. Topstitch along the long side opposite the opening (this will be the top edge of the pocket).
Pin the pocket on the exterior body piece, 5 inches from the top edge and centered side-to-side. Sew around the sides and bottom of the pocket to attach it to the main body piece. Sew a line in the middle of the pocket, dividing it in half to make two pockets. Backstitch at the start and end to reinforce the seam.
Make the zipper tabs for both ends of the zipper. Take both 2″x 2″ squares and fold and press two opposite sides in 1/4 inch towards the wrong sides. Fold and press the piece in half, folded ends together. Sandwich the pull end of the zipper between one fabric tab. Sew along the folded edges (perpendicular to the zipper) to attach the zipper tab to the zipper.
Trim the other end of the zipper so that the length of the zipper is 16″. Sandwich the other end of the zipper between the second fabric tab and sew again perpendicular to the zipper.
Take the two large front pocket pieces. Lay the exterior fabric piece right side up. Line the zipper up along the top edge of the exterior fabric piece, right side down and zipper to the left. On top of the zipper, line up the lining piece along the top edge, right side down. Pin all three layers in place. Sew down the top edge, attaching all three layers, with a 3/8″ seam.
Turn right side out, with the zipper on the top and the wrong sides of the fabric pieces together. Press the seam. Topstitch the top edge.
Make and attach the key clip. Take the 1.5″x 4″ piece of lining fabric and fold and press the long edges in 1/4″ inch in towards the wrong side. Fold in half lengthwise and press. Fold in half again widthwise so that you now have a loop. Slide the clip into the loop. Pin the two short edges together inside the zipper pocket and sew to attach.
5. Sew on the Vinyl and Zipper Pocket.
Center the 9″x 16″ vinyl piece on the main exterior piece, wrong side of the vinyl on the right side of the exterior fabric piece, lining up the sides.
Line up the top edge of the zipper pocket to slightly above interior pockets on the main body piece.
See where the bottom edge of the zipper pocket meets the vinyl. Overlap the two with the vinyl on top, and sew along the top edge of the vinyl (1/4″ and 1/2″ from the edge).
See pictures of the tote above if this isn’t clear. You are just sewing the bottom of the pocket to the top of the vinyl so that the bottom of the pocket is not attached to the main piece (giving you more pocket space).
Line the top of the pocket (the zipper) up on the main body piece, just above the attached interior pockets. Sandwich the top edge of the zipper in between a 16″ piece of bias tape and pin in place. Sew along the bias tape, attaching it and the zipper to the main body piece.
Sew a line along the vinyl on where each long side of the bottom of the tote will be. (See the pictures above. The bottom will be three inches wide).
Sew along the second edge of the vinyl on what will be the back of the bag, (1/4″ and 1/2″ from the edge).
Now the main exterior body piece is completed.
6. Attach Small Side Panel Pockets:
Press the top edge of one 4″x4″ square of lining fabric 1/2″ down towards the wrong side.
Place the vinyl piece on the lining fabric piece, wrong sides together, with the pressed edge of the lining fabric on the top edge. Sew along the top edge twice to attach the two pieces together (1/4″ and 1/2″ from the edge).
Line up the pocket piece with the side panel piece and baste around the sides and bottom to secure the pocket.
Repeat for second pocket and side panel.
7. Assemble the Tote:
Place one side panel piece on top of the main body piece, right sides together and lining up top edges. Sew the two pieces together along the long side of the side panel, stopping 1/2 inch from the bottom edge.
Line up the bottom edges of the side panel and the main body piece, sew pieces together, stopping again 1/2 inch from the end of the bottom edge of the side panel piece.
Line up the second long edge with the remaining long edge of the main body piece. Sew the pieces together, stopping at the top edges of both pieces.
(See picture below. The red strip is the side panel. The arrows show the direction of sewing on the panel, but you will move the main piece around as you sew the sides together).
Repeat the steps above for the second side panel piece on second long side of the main body piece.
Assemble the for lining pieces using the same method.
Press both the assembled exterior and the assembled lining.
Stuff the lining into the assembled exterior, wrong sides together. Line up the edges and seams of the main body and the lining.
8. Make & Attach Recessed Zipper:
** This tutorial helped me figure out how to make a recessed zipper, though I completed my steps a little differently. Check it out for step-by-step instructions on making a recessed zipper.**
9. Make the Strap:
Cut the pieces for the strap. (See picture below for measurements).
To make the short tab for the D-ring, take one small piece of lining fabric and press the long edges in 1/2 inch towards the wrong side– forming a piece 1.5″x4″. Place the small vinyl strip on the pressed lining piece, wrong sides together. Sew along the long edges, 1/4″ from each edge. Repeat to make second short tab.
To make the long strap, take the long piece of lining fabric and press the long edges in 1/2 inch towards the wrong side. Fold and press the short ends 1/2 inch towards the wrong side. You should now have a long piece 1.5″x 58″. Place the long vinyl piece on the pressed lining piece, wrong sides together. Sew down both long edges, 1/4″ from each edge.
Fold each short tab in half lengthwise, and slide the D-ring into the middle. Tuck each tab into each side of the bag. Pin in place.
Follow the directions on the adjustable strap hardware’s package to assemble the strap.
10. Finish the Top Edge of Tote:
Fold and press the top edge of the main exterior fabric and the lining fabric in 1/2 inch towards the wrong side of the fabric.
Sandwich the piping in between the exterior fabric and lining fabric, pinning all three layers in place.
Sew around the top edge of the tote, backstitching when you get to the strap tabs to reinforce the seam.
Please let me know if you use this tutorial and how your everyday zippered tote bag turns out!
Also, don’t forget if you’re new to sewing, check out my post on helps for beginning sewers— tips and projects to get you started.