How to Sew a Simple Lined Tote Bag (that looks professionally made)

This pattern requires minimal sewing and is easy to follow. These fabric tote bags are perfect for keeping folded up in your purse or glove box and use when you stop at the store but forget to bring your reusable grocery bags.

This free tote pattern doesn’t have pockets but you can easily add them.

How To Sew a Simple Lined Tote Bag

DIY Lined Tote Bag

Follow the 8 simple steps below to sew a lined tote bag in less than an hour.

Step 1 – Cut tote bag, lining, and handles

Using the measurements provided, you’ll end up with a finished tote that is 12-3/4” wide by 15-3/8 tall. The handles are 1-1/2″ wide when finished.

Lined tote finished size

You will need to cut:

  • Tote exterior: 32” x 14” rectangle in outer fabric
  • Tote lining: 32” x 14” rectangle in lining fabric
  • Handles: 6” x 24” rectangle X 2 in outer fabric 

Tote bag pattern piece sizes

Pro Tips

If you’re sewing lined tote bags to sell, these tips will help you decrease your production time and increase profits:

  • To speed up cutting, fold your fabric in half and cut a 16” by 14” rectangle out, with the bottom of the rectangle being right on the fold (don’t cut the bottom of the rectangle). When you unfold your rectangle, you’ll have a 32” x 14” rectangle. You can follow this technique for the handles as well.
  • If your fabric is easy to work with (i.e. not slippery, not too thick), layer your outer fabric and lined fabric on top of each other and then cut your rectangle so you cut both pieces at once. 
  • It’s important your fabric is free of wrinkles as they can cause inaccuracies in your measurements. Iron your fabric before cutting.


How to adjust the size

Adjust the bag size according to your needs by simply deciding on the height and width you want, then adding 1-1/4” to the width (for 5/8″ seam allowance on both sides) and and 5/8” to the height (for seam allowance on the top).


Step 2 – Sew handles

Fold your handle in half lengthwise to find the centre and press a crease into it.

Fold the top and bottom in, lining up the cut edge with the centre crease.

Fold the handle in half again, lengthwise.

Top stitch on either side of the handle, closer to the edge.

How to make tote bag handles

Pro Tip

If you’re working with a fabric such as a cotton, simply hand press at first, and then iron once the handle is completely folded. This will save you a bit of time.


Step 3 – Sew sides

Fold your rectangles in half so the right sides of the fabric are together.

Stitch down the left and right side, using a 5/8” seam allowance and backstitching at the top and bottom of your seam. 

Repeat this step with your lining but leave a 2” – 4” break in the stitching, as this opening will allow you to turn the bag right side out. 

Sew tote sides closed


Step 4 – Press seams

Pressing your seams will create a more polished and professional looking finished product.

Open the fabric along the seams you stitched and press them flat using an iron.

Press tote bag seams


Step 5 – Attach handles to tote exterior

Turn your exterior fabric right side out, using a point turner to fully push the bottom corners out.

Measure 1-1/2” in from the outer seams and pin your handles in place (you don’t have to sew them in place right now because they’ll be sewn in when you stitch your lining and bag exterior together).

Attach tote bag handles


Step 6 – Attach lining to bag exterior

Keep your lining turned inside out so you can place the lining’s and bag exterior’s right sides together. 

Place the bag exterior inside the lining. 

Line up the top edges and pin in place.

Stitch around the top opening of the bag, using a 5/8” seam allowance.

Turn the bag right side out using the opening you left in the lining.

Sew tote lining to exterior


Step 7 – Press bag opening

Roll the top edge slightly under so from the outside, you can’t see the lining. 

Iron around the opening of the bag.

Press tote bag opening


Step 8 – Top stitch

Close the opening in the lining by top stitching close to the edge.

Finish off the bag by top stitching around the opening of the bag, close to the edge.

Top stitch tote bag opening


Lightly press any wrinkles and your lined tote bag is ready to use or sell!

Simple Lined Tote Bag Tutorial


If you plan to sell your lined totes, follow this pricing guide: The Right Way to Price a Handmade Product (Step-by-Step Formula)


Happy sewing!


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