How to Make a Market Tote Bag
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How to Make a Market Tote Bag

This video is brought to you by Sailrite.
In this video we will show you how to sew up your own Market Tote Bag. This is an easy
to sew project that will result in a great open top tote bag that you can use anywhere.
Pick your favorite fabric at the Sailrite website and follow along with us as we show
you how do it yourself. To begin our project we need to mark our fabric
to the correct size panels. We will be creating 4 rectangles which will measure as follows.
As you can see we are using a 54″ wide fabric from Sailrite and we only need 27″ of that
fabric to create one bag. Nest the panels as show here and your fabrics pattern (if
it has a Patten) will usually be orientated correctly.
We will cut out our fabric with scissors since our fabric choice has a high cotton content
we can’t use a hot knife to cut the fabric as it will tend to burn. So we will have to
contend with edges that tend to un-ravel. You could use pinking shears or if using a
synthetic fabric use the hot knife. Now all 4 panels are cut out we will first
fabricate the tote bag handles. At Sailrite we prefer to use double sided tape or seamstick
to baste hems and seams together prior to sewing. It helps to hold the fabric in place
as you take it to the sewing machine and sew. If you don’t use the seamstick you could iron
the fabric to create a good crease for the hem here.
Our first hem will be about a quarter inch along one long side of the 4 x 36 inch fabric
panel. As you can see the seamstick holds the hem in place perfectly. Our second hem
will be about 1 1/4 inch along the opposite long side of the panel making the overall
width of this handle 2 ½ inches. We will use a yardstick on the table below our handle
as we baste this hem down to help insure that our overall width is correct. We used a pencil
on the yardstick to help us quickly identify our measurements.
Follow that same procedure for both of the handle panels. If you do not have seamstick
you can use an iron to crease the hems. After the two handles are hemmed check to
insure they are about the same width by laying one over the other. If they are majorly off
make modifications. Next we will fold the handles in half so the
hems are on the inside and we will sew a straight stitch along the two outer edges of the handle
to secure the hems and the handle in half. We are using the Sailrite LSZ-1 Basic Sewing
Machine to sew our tote bag together. Our stich length is set at about 4 to 5 millimeters.
We are using a #16 size needle and V-69 thread. All of the tools and materials that we are
using for this tote bag are available at Sailrite. Notice that as we sew this handle edge we
are carefully lining up the folded edges of the handle and sewing only a few inches and
then re-aligning the edges and sewing again. Take your time to insure that the handles
edges are even or if you like you could use the seamstick and baste the handle in half
prior to sewing. Remember that when you start sewing and end your stitch you should do some
reversing to lock the stitch in place. Here we are sewing the opposite side of the handle.
Follow that same procedure for both handles. Here’s what they look like when you are done.
Next up we will hem the bag’s main body panel. Our fabric has a right side and a wrong side
so we need to be sure we are creating our hems on correct side. We will next take the
main body panel and create a 1 inch double hem on both short edges. To do this we will
place the seamstick on the wrong side of the fabric along the short edges. Then we will
fold the fabric to create about a 1 inch hem. After that hem is complete we will place seamstick
over the top edge the first hem that we just created then fold it over again to complete
the 1 inch double hem. I like to rip the seamstick as shown in the
video by hand, but some of our customers prefer to cut the seamstick to the appropriate length.
I find that when I rip or break the seamstick it makes it easier to peel off the transfer
paper reveling the glue. Another advantage to seamstick is the fact that you can make
modifications if needed by pealing up the fabric and re-basting. Here you can see the
hem is 1 inch. Follow that same procedure for the opposite short side of the main body
panel. We will not be showing this. Sew both double hems with a row of straight
stitches about an 1/8 inch away from the outer edge and the inner folded edge. Be sure to
do some reversing at the beginning and end of your sewing to lock the stich in place.
In the next session we will attach the handles to this portion of the bag.
Now find your handles and place seamstick along the ends of the handle, on the same
side, not more than 10″ up from the bottom. We’ve done it here now we need to do it to
the opposite end, but the same side. Peel off the transfer paper and then baste
the handle to the main body bag 5 ½ inches from the sides and 10 ½ inches down from
the top edge. Be sure you are basting the handle on the correct side of the fabric panel.
Notice that the hems are facing down. We are using a clear acrylic ruler so we can easily
measure from the side and the top as the same time. If you don’t have one of these ruler
and you plan on sewing a few projects like this we highly recommend them. You can purchase
them at Sailrite. The ruler also makes it easy to ensure that
the handle is being basted down straight. We will keep the hemmed edge of the handle
facing the inside of the U to keep the handles orientation the same.
Do the same procedure for the opposite side. Once the handles are basted down we can sew
them in place on the main body. Try to sew so the stitches fall on top of the stitches
you sewed on the handle when making it initially. Sew to the top of the bag stopping at the
first stitch that secured the hem. Then sew across the handle following the same hem stitch
under the handle. To do this burry the needle by hand, lift the presser foot and rotate
the fabric around completing a 90 degree turn. Then sew to the next stitch and follow that
procedure again. If you notice that you not close enough or too far you can rotate the
balance wheel by hand while using the reverse lever until the needle falls at the desired
location. Each bag has two handle and four legs, secure each of the legs as shown here.
Now we will work with the bag bottom panel which is 13 x 19 inches. We will apply seamstick
to the long edges with the wrong side of the fabric facing up and crate about a ¼ inch
hem along the two long edges of this panel. Once the ¼ inch hem is finished we will place
seamstick on top of those hems yet again. Now we will baste this bag bottom panel to
the main body panel on the correct side. If your measurements are correct the bottom panel
should cover the ends of the handle. Be sure to center the bottom panel, to do
this just ensure that the panel covers the same amount of handle end on both sides. Also
make sure the panel is straight as you baste it in place. You can measure from the ends
if you like or sometimes you can use the pattern of the fabric if your fabric has a pattern.
Take the assembly to the sewing machine and sew a straight stitch about 1/8 inch from
the edge of the bottom panel sewing it to the main body panel. As always when you have
fabric that does not pass under the arm of the sewing machine simply scroll up the excess
fabric making it pass easily under the arm. After that stitch is done make another stitch
about ¼ inch away from that stitch. After this is done we will concentrate on
creating a rectangular bottom for the bag giving the bag the ability to stand up for
easy use. To do this we will create a large pleat.
Find the center of the bag along the long sides and mark it with a pencil. Now measure
over 4 inches from that center mark and place a pin. Do that also on the opposite end of
the center mark. So you will have two pins 8 inches away from each other. Do that on
both sides of the bag assembly. These pins will be for reference only, they do not hold
panels together, so don’t worry about pining both layers together.
Fold the bag assembly so the wrong sides face each other. Fold the top portion of the bag
down to create a crease at the pin location. Then hold the bag assembly at the pin location
and lift the bag so you can create that same fold at the pin location on the opposite side.
Line up the top edges and ensure that the bottom folds are even, if not you can often
make adjustments to the folds without having to re-sew. Line up the top of the bag and pin that edge
so the tops are even. Place the pin about 1 to 2 inches away from the edge so you can
still sew the raw edge with the pin left in place.
Here you want to be sure to pin both the top layer and the bottom layer of the bag.
Once you are happy pull the 4 pins that were used for reference at the bottom and insert
pins to hold the fold or pleat in place. Again you must push the pin thru the top and bottom
layers of the fabric. That pin is placed about 2 inches from the raw edge, that way we do
not have to remove it when we take it to the sewing machine and sew.
Only one more step and your tote bag is complete. Let’s sew up the sides of the bag.
Start sewing from the top edge and sew a straight stich about a ¼ inch away from the raw edge
catching all layers of the bag and the pleat below. We have chosen a rather heavy fabric
(12.2 oz) to make this tote bag so at this point when we have to sew the hems and the
pleat area we have quite a lot of bulk at those locations. Without a heavy duty machine
like the Sailrite Ultrafeed you may find those areas hard to sew. However, if you pick a
fabric that is not as heavy you should not have any difficulty with a home sewing machine.
Now because we could not use a hotknife to cut the fabric we have a lot of unraveling
of the fabric along this raw edge. You can do one of three things here. You can sew a
tight zigzag stitch as we are doing here. You can use a serger sewing machine to keep
the edges from unraveling. Or finally you can sew on a light binding tape, it’s your
choice. Even with a tight zigzag stitch along this edge we still have some unraveling, but
it will never go past the zigzag stitch. Now simply cut away any loose threads and
you can even trim up the raw edges which will be on the inside of the bag, but don’t cut
into your zigzag stitch, if you used that option. Turn the bag right-side out and you
are done! You can find all the materials, tools and
supplies at Sailrite. A materials list is coming up next. You can build one bag with
just 27 inches of a 54 inch wide fabric, so with just 3 yards of fabric you can make 4
of these bags. Here is the materials list and tools that we used to build this tote
bag. You can find hundreds of fabric choices from Sailrite. For more free videos like this
be sure to check out the Sailrite website or subscribe to the Sailrite YouTube channel
today. It’s your loyal patronage to Sailrite that makes these free videos available, thanks
for your support!

About Ralph Robinson

Read All Posts By Ralph Robinson

100 thoughts on “How to Make a Market Tote Bag

  1. My comment is similar to City Curves. I so appreciate your attention to every detail in "building" this tote. Thanks a million!

  2. Does your company sell the 1/4" basting tape? I've sewn for many years, but this is new to me. What a great idea to increase the accuracy of hem measurements! I can't wait to try it!

  3. This is hands-down, the clearest, most detailed, best video I have seen. I have been looking at all of these how to make market tote bag videos, and yours is the first one I didn't get irritated or impatient with. On top of that, you listed every single thing in detail, even with a little graphic there so we can pause the video and write it down. And it was a big guy making it, so I'm guessing that's why the bag looked small according to another comment here. Hilarious. Excellent excellent excellent

  4. Thank you for making such a clear and informative video. I sure covet that heavy duty sewing machine! California has gone to reusable shopping bags so I hope you get a lot of renewed interest in your videos and products. Your bag looks nice and sturdy, groceries can get very heavy so quality is a must. Now I'm going to your site to check out your machines!

  5. great tutorial, can you make a simular one that has inside strap pockets for tall items from grocery shopping.

  6. Thanks so much for this tutorial. Have some leftover heavy fabric and we're in need of some sturdy grocery bags. Need to clean off a table and start sewing!

  7. Exelente! Muchas Gracias!!! Solamente habria querido el subtitulo en castellano. Gracias igual! Es genial!!

  8. Loved it – great tutorial.. Made one for my wife – best thing I've made so far! Going to go again with different fabric today. Thank you.

  9. I´m impressed how clear you explain the process. Thanks for makings this video
    I subscribed your channel .

  10. Thank you so much for this video. Didn't find it as straightforward as most but taught me a lot about construction via mistakes. Am adapting it to make reusable Christmas gift bags to raise money for an animal charity – and encourage people to avoid using wrapping paper. So me, the animals and the planet all thank you.

  11. The tutorial was crisp and clear and easy to follow. Loved your bag , so made one of my own. not so perfect as yours , this is my first project.

  12. great tutorial, super easy to follow….. all the dimensions are clear. I am sewing 2 of those right now. Those step by step instructions are invaluable. Thanks.

  13. Very good clear instructions and I love the idea of the tape. I have now subscribed to see more of your good skills and excellent teaching. Thank you for the subtitles too.

  14. A reusable market bag is used by people who want to avoid using plastic, for environmental concerns. Why then use something so incredibly unnecessary as seamstick? Just iron please and save the glue and plastic rubbish created by using seamstick

  15. Thank you very much for this clear tutorial. The beautiful fabric from curtains no longer needed has provided a wonderful recycled resource and I love 'saving the planet' – small token.

  16. This is a great video of a simple project. I really don't need another shopping tote bag (I have three already), but I'm going to make this project just to get some experience with the machine.

  17. Hello sir we are going to make fabric bags , plz suggest how to take measurement.
    If we are making a bags particular for boxes.

  18. That's a fabulous demonstration – it would also look great with contrasting bottom and handles too! Thank you so much!

  19. I just made one of these. I recommend creasing and top stitching around the bottom to make it hold its shape and also up the corners.

  20. Great bag project! Saltire always provides such clear directions. Sewing the bottom corner angles inside the finished bag and using clips over pins worked much better overall. Excellent video!

  21. Love this style. When making the handles, why are the portions that are folded in to make the hem, different widths? Thanks for sharing,

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