1. Choose fabric for your bag. Picking out fabric may be the hardest part, since there are so many choices. Any type of fabric will work, whether you want to use denim from an old pair of jeans or buy expensive satin to make a fancy tote bag. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you're picking out fabric:
If you're going to use the tote to carry heavy items like books, you'll want to choose a sturdy fabric. Go for heavy cotton, corduroy, or some type of thick polyester fabric. Lighter fabrics will rip if you try to carry something heavy or sharp.
There are many great patterns to choose from, but if you plan to decorate your tote bag, you might want to go with a solid color to offset the decorations.
If you'd like to make a lined tote bag, pick out two types of fabric. Liner is usually made from a softer fabric, while the outer fabric is usually something sturdier.
Note that heavy fabrics will require stronger needles and/or a heavier-duty sewing machine to sew.
If you're using brand new fabric, you might want to wash and iron it first so that it doesn't shrink after you make the tote.
2. Cut two fabric rectangles of equal size. You get to choose how large or small the tote bag will be. Measure out a rectangle and use a pencil or a fabric pen to mark where you're going to cut. Use fabric scissors to cut the rectangle out neatly. Repeat with a second piece of fabric so that you have two fabric rectangles.
Keep in mind that the finished tote bag will be an inch or so smaller than the rectangle, since the fabric will be hemmed.
If you're making a lined tote bag, cut out two rectangles of the outer fabric and two rectangles of the liner fabric.
Here are a few size suggestions:
12 x 14 inches for a very small tote
14 x 16 inches for a medium tote
24 x 20 inches for a large beach tote
3.Mark the place where the handles will go. Fold the rectangles in thirds lengthwise and use a fabric pen or pencil mark the two inside creases. These marks will show you where to center the handles later, so be sure to fold across the length of the fabric, and not down it, to position them correctly.