Fat Quarter Tote Bag Tutorial

This is an easy afternoon project called the ‘Fat Quarter Tote Bag’.  I fell in love with the fabric line, ‘Seaside‘, by Riley Blake Designs the first time I saw it at quilt market back almost 9 months ago in Houston, TX.  The colors, the prints, the nautical feel……awwww, swoon.  I knew I had to use this line the minute it came out!

The Fat Quarter Tote is a fully lined medium-sized tote bag made from six fat quarters (with a little bit of interfacing).  Once you know how this sweet little bag goes together, you will be able to whip up several of them in no time.  Let’s get started…….

Fat Quarter Tote Tutorial
by Lindsay Wilkes from The Cottage Mama 
2 Fat Quarters – Exterior Fabric
2 Fat Quarters – Lining Fabric
1 Fat Quarter – Top Band Fabric
1 Fat Quarter – Straps and Fabric Yo-Yo
1 Fat Quarter – Fusible Interfacing
1 button (optional)
Cutting Instructions:
Cut 2 on Fold: 15.5″ x 9″ – Exterior Fabric
Cut 2 on Fold: 15.5″ x 9″ – Lining Fabric
Cut 2 on Fold: 9″ x 6.5″ – Top Band Fabric
Cut 4 on Fold: 2.5″ x 10″ – Strap Fabric
Cut 4: 2.5″ x 20″ – Interfacing
Cut all pieces according to cutting instructions above.

Apply fusible interfacing to the back side of all four strap pieces according to package instructions.  I know interfacing can be a little confusing, but the interfacing used in the project is nothing fancy.  It is fusible on one side (not both) and will add a little strength to the straps.  If you prefer to add a little more body to the tote bag, you could apply interfacing to the back sides of all the pieces.

Place two of the strap pieces with their right sides together and sew down both long sides.

Turn the strap right side out and press.

Topstitch down each long side of the strap in coordinating thread.  Do the same thing with the other two strap pieces.
For the main body of the bag, cut 1.5″ squares out of two of the corners of the main bag pieces (pictured above).  Do this on all four pieces (exterior and lining)  If you would like a shorter bag but with more width then go ahead and cut a 2″ – 2.5″ square out of each side.  Place the exterior bag pieces with their right sides together and sew down both long sides and the bottom (in between the two squares) leaving the top open and the squares open.  Do the same thing with the lining fabric.

Press all seams open for the lining and the exterior main bag pieces.

Pinch the bottom squares of the bag and line up the two straight edges of the squares.  Pin in place and stitch across the straight side.  Do this for all four corners (two exterior and two lining).

Cut off some of the extra seam allowance to remove bulk and make sure the corners turn out nicely.  Turn the exterior fabric right side out, but leave the interior fabric wrong side out.

Place the top band fabric pieces with the right sides together and sew down both short sides.  Fold the top band in half (long-ways) and press.

Measure in 4.5″ from each side of the bag for strap placement.

Pin the straps in place and baste stitch them to the bag.

In the next series of steps we will be layering several pieces together.  Slide the top band piece over the top of the exterior of the bag, lining up the raw edges.
We left the lining part of the bag with the wrong side out. Slide the lining piece over the exterior, band and straps. You are making a sandwich with the two different bag pieces, the straps and the top band.

Sew around the top, leaving a 3″- 4″ opening for turning right side out.

Turn the bag right side out by pulling the exterior fabric of the bag through the opening.

Topstitch around the top of the bag. Make sure to iron under the opening we used for turning earlier so that your topstitching will catch and close the opening during this step.

Pin the straps in place and sew them to the top band of the fabric.  Do this by sewing a square around each one with an ‘X’ in the middle.
Hand sew an embellishment at the top of the bag.  I made a fabric yo-yo with a button in the center.  There are many tutorials online for fabric yo-yo’s, so I’ll skip that here.  But you can use any trims or embellishments you would like to make your bag special.
And that’s it……you’re finished!
Here is what the bottom of the tote will look like.  Like I said above, if you would prefer a wider base, just cut the squares out of the main bag pieces larger.
This is what the inside of your tote will look like once you are finished.  Fully lined with no exposed edges….nice and pretty!
If you have your own sewing labels, then add one to the back of the tote.
Fat Quarter Tote Tutorial - The Cottage Mama

Happy Sewing!

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  1. Wonderful, thank you for sharing I just had to pin it so I could make one for my sister-in-law.

  2. Great tutorial! Love the way your bag turned out.

  3. Darling, Lindsay! Makes me want to grab one and head for the beach!

  4. This is a fantastic tutorial. I agree that the fabrics are just dreamy and perfect in every way. Any project that only requires a few fat quarters is always an instant classic in my book. Thanks for sharing!

  5. This is adorable! Thank you so much for the tutorial.

  6. What is the finished size? I’m having trouble visualizing where the fold goes when I cut out my pieces.

  7. Love this! I would also like to know the finished size, like Lisa.

  8. This is so charming! The fabric is perfect. What a great little bag.

  9. Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in Creative Busy Bee Craft Inspirations, under the Page 1 post on Oct. 16, 2012. Thanks again.

  10. What an adorable little bag. I adore the fabric combinations!

  11. Thank you for sharing this great tutorial, the bag is so cute I think I’m going to give it a try and do it myself, although I’m not very much into sewing. Hope I find similar fabrics as yours, it will be rather challenging as I live in a small city and the choice is not very alluring.

  12. Great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial! This is a perfect little tote for books or knitting projects. I’m heading up to my craft room in a few moments to try my own :).

  14. Awesome tutorial & just what I needed. I have been asked to make a friend a piano bag for her son. Out of curiousity (and so I know if I need to adjust measurements) what size piano book fits in here? THanks!

  15. Good to see such nice tote bags with beautiful customization. Tote bags are a symbol of stylish gesture and smart personality. Popularity of tote bag is increasing day by day. As it is a nice product, some customization can take the style/smartness to a new level. Wanna know more.

    Custom Tote Bags

  16. This is a fantastic tutorial. Thank you! I used it to create my bag http://partydecoland.blogspot.ru/2013/02/gerda-bengtsson-rosa-eglanteria.html
    And I made there a link to your blog!! Thanks again.

  17. Wonderful tutorials.

    May I ask please, where do you get your labels? They are very nice … brand identity with good taste.


  18. Thanks for the great tutorial.

  19. So cute! Thank you!

  20. Thank you going to make this tonight!!

  21. Love the tutorial! Love the Fabric! Love the bag!

  22. love it. I am making it for a friend to stop her from using plastic bags to pick up her mail 🙂 Got some pretty fabric with airplanes and am going to try to make a “stamp” shaped pocket

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Thanks so much for the tute! Just finished my bag today, though, it was kinda stressful for me. My machine had a hard time sewing through 8 layers at the joining stage…coz I used medium hard interfacing on all the pieces. Thanks, again!

  25. GREAT tutorial, so detailed and with perfect clear photos. Thanks!!

  26. This is an awesome bag and great instructions. Do you have printable instructions aside from the tutorial?
    Thank you.

  27. This bag is so cute! You did a great job! Thanks for posting. I am just beginning to sew, and it looks fun to do!

  28. Hi! I love this bag and am trying to make it but can’t figure out the cut on fold directions. What should size should the cut pieces be? Can anyone help me?
    Thank you!

  29. Argh! I’ve been in love with this for ages but I’ve just tried it for the first time (I’m a beginner) and I’ve got so lost with the top band, it was all going so well 🙁 for the cut outs I did the second number to the fold, being that one to double, was that right?? My top band is not as wide as my bag bits (with the 15.5 width) so won’t slide over. What have I done wrong?? (Also confused at how it slides over, I had it up to folded in half wrong way out).
    Any help available??

  30. Main body piece: Exterior fabric and lining – cut 18″ across by 15.5″ down -2 of each. Then cut a 1.5″ square out of each bottom corner

    Top band – cut two pieces 18″ X 6.5″

    Straps – cut four pieces 20″ X 2.5

    Interfacing for straps – cut two pieces 20″ X 2.5″ ( or cut four if you want straps stiffer)

    • Thank you so much. Now I will be able to translate it in cm. Bought nice fabric in Nigeria.

  31. Beautiful pattern! I finished my first one this morning and LOVE it! I did lengthen the straps as I want to use it this summer @ the farmer’s market and want to sling it over my shoulder. There is plenty of fabric left in the handle fat quarter. I cut 2 extra pieces and cut them in half and added it to the other 4 strips. Thank You!


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