How to Make an Open Wide Tote Bag

How to Make an Open Wide Tote Bag

For this of you that follow Sew Very Crafty you know that I love to make handbags.  This open wide tote bag is no exception.  It is a simple and fun handbag project to make.   I particularly like this bag because it opens wide and I can see everything inside with no problem.  Believe me when I tell you that I put so much stuff in my purses that it really makes a difference being able to open it wide and see inside.  This tote bag definitely affords me that opportunity.  There is a slip pocket to provide even more storage for all of my stuff.  

I used standard cotton fabric for my outer fabric for this bag and Kona cotton for my lining.  I purchased both at JOANN Fabric & Craft Stores.  But, you could head to Hobby Lobby, Fabric.com or onlinefabricstore.net to get exactly the fabrics you need for your project.  Typically, I make my own handles for my handbags but for this one I had some pre-made leather handles that I thought would be perfect for the look I was going for so I decided to use them.  They were purchased online.  You of course can make your own or just use cotton webbing.  This post contains affiliate links that if you click not hem and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  

What you will Need: How to Make an Open Wide Tote Bag

  • 1 yd outer fabric and lining fabric
  • 1 yd Pellon 808 interfacing 
  • 2 handles 
  • 14″ zipper
What you will Need-Open wide tote

Step 1:  Cut your Fabrics

Cut the two outer, lining and interfacing pieces to measure 17 3/8″ x 14 1/2″.  One outer piece should be cut for the slip pocket that measures 6 3/4″ x 16 3/4″.  Cut a piece of interfacing that measures 6″ x 8″.  You should also cut a zipper tab that measures 2″ x 2″.   

Step 2: Cut the Corners

Cut 3 3/4″ squares from the bottoms of the large pieces of outer fabric, lining and interfacing.  

Cut the corners

Step 3: Fuse the Interfacing

Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the outer fabric following the manufacturers instructions.  

Fuse the interfacing

Step 4: Create the Slip Pocket

Fold the slip pocket piece in half right sides together.  Place the 6″ x 8″ piece of interfacing on the fold and fuse the interfacing to the pocket piece following the manufacturer’s instructions.  Stitch the pocket piece along the sides and the bottom leaving and opening on the bottom to turn it right sides out. Clip the corners and turn the piece right sides out and press.  Topstitch along the fold.  Place one of the lining pieces onto your work surface.  Lay the pocket piece onto the lining piece with the fold facing toward the top.  Measure down from the top 2″ and in the center and place the pocket piece.  Stitch along the sides and bottom making sure to enclose the opening on the bottom.  

Create the pocket
Add the pocket

Step 5: Create the Zipper Tab

Fold in all of the sides of the zipper tab piece to form a box.  Fold the box around the end of the zipper and stitch all the way around to secure.  

Add the zipper tab

Step 6: Mark the Bag Zipper

Measure from the beginning of the zipper pull 9 1/8″ and make a mark.  Measure the lining piece with the slip pocket 4 1/8″ from the left side and make a mark.  From that mark measure 9 1/8″ and make another mark.  Take one of the outer pieces and turn it wrong sides up and transfer the same markings.  

Mark the zipper

Step 7: Add the Bag Zipper

Place the zipper right sides up on the lining matching the marks on the zipper to the marks on the lining and pin.  Lay the outer piece right sides down on top of the zipper again matching the marks and pin.  The zipper will be longer than the marks which allows it to open wide.  Just leave it hanging.  Fold under the ear of the zipper near the zipper pull.  Using a 3/8″ seam allowance stitch all the way along the top which includes the parts without the zipper and those with the zipper. Repeat the same process for the other side of the lining and outer fabric.  You can open up the zipper to make stitching easier.    

Add the zipper
Add outer piece to zipper
Finished half of zipper
Add outer piece to other side of zipper

Step 8: Stitch the Bag

Place the outer bag right sides together and the lining right sides together.  Stitch along the sides and bottom of both the lining and outer pieces except that you will leave and opening on one of the sides of the lining for turning. Make sure not to catch the hanging zipper and keep the zipper open for turning.  

Place the outer and lining right sides together

Step 9: Box the Corners

You will notice that there are holes in the corners.  Match the side seam with the bottom seam to close the hole and create a straight line.  stitch the lining using a 3/8″ seam allowance.  Repeat for all four corners.

Box the corners

Step 10: Finish the Open Wide Zipper Tote Bag

Turn the bag right sides out through the opening in the lining and the open zipper. Close the opening using ladder stitch or with your machine.  Topstitch all the way around the top of the bag.  You will notice that the bag is large on the sides.  Fold the sides in to create folds on the corners.  Stitch about 2″ down each corner to create a pleasing shape. Add the handles by hand stitching them to the tote bag. 


Turn right sides out
Push the lining into the bag
Create the corners

How to Make an Open Wide Tote Bag


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