Project Totally Cute Personalized Tote

By Stephanie Struckmann

Skill Level: Beginner  

-+ FromTo Love List

Tote bags make a great gift for anyone on the go! Personalize the tote with fabric the recipient will love and embroider their name or monogram for an extra special touch. This tote is so quick and easy, you’ll really enjoy making it!


  • Rotary cutter/mat or a ruler, fabric marker, and scissors to mark the dimensions and cut your fabric
  • ½ yard cute fabric for the exterior of the bag, (I used a printed duck or canvas)
  • ½ yard fabric for the interior of the bag, (I just chose a basic gray cotton fabric that matched my exterior)
  • ½-1 yard heavy fusible interfacing (I used craft bond; note: get a yard if the interfacing is not folded on the bolt, you’ll need to get 2 – 17” x 17” squares out of your interfacing)
  • 2 - 8” squares of complementary fabric for the pocket (pocket optional)
  • 1 ¾ yd. cotton webbing trim (pre-made straps; I cut my straps 29” each)
  • Sewing thread



  1. If pocket is desired:

    1. Cut 2 - 8” squares for one pocket. If embroidery is desired, get started on one square so that’s running while you cut and interface the bag fabric.

  2. Cut exterior, interior, and interfacing fabric 17” x 17” (I layered all 3 fabrics and cut them together to save time).

    1. Fuse the interfacing to either the 2 exterior OR interior 17” fabric squares.

    2. I interfaced my outer because it’s printed duck cloth and it fused very nicely and won’t show wrinkles.

    3. If you're using a a thinner, basic cotton fabric, it might show wrinkles more when fused (then, you would interface your interior fabrics).

  3. Layer one lining layer (wrong side) to the wrong side of one exterior square (I put a couple dabs of stick glue (near the middle) on the fused interfacing pieces to hold the layers

    1. Do the same with the other 2 squares. So, now you should have 2-17” squares that are an exterior, interfacing, interior layered “sandwich”.

  4. Now, layer the 2 – 17” square “sandwiches” on top of each other and cut 3” squares from the bottom corners only (as shown in the picture; this will be used to make the corners of the bag

  5. Separate into the 2 “sandwiches” again and serge (or baste and finish the seams of) the layers of each sandwich together at the top, sides, and bottom.

    1. Don’t serge those 3” square elbows that were cut out.

    2. For your pocket, put the 2 – 8” squares pretty sides together and sew the sides and top; don’t sew the bottom of the pocket.

    3. I interfaced one of the squares to give it some structure if you happen to have some extra; otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it

    4. Clip the 2 corners where you pivoted. Turn your pocket right side out; gently push your corners out to make them pretty. Press flat.

    5. Then, iron the lower raw edge a ½” under to the back side.

  6. Place your pocket to your liking on the exterior of one of your “sandwich pieces.”

    1. Pin in place.

    2. Sew your pocket on, sewing close to the edge, starting at the top right, sewing 3 sides, leaving the top open

    3. To sew your straps on, mark 3” in at the top right and left of each “sandwich” piece.

    4. With one strap per “sandwich” piece, line your strap to the inside of the mark on the left and pin.

    5. Then pin the other side of the strap to the inside of your right mark making sure that it’s not twisted.

    6. Baste strap in place. Finish strap tips with your serger or fray check.

  7. Place 2 “sandwich” pieces pretty sides together and sew the bottom seam first (optional: stitch twice for strength).

    1. Press seam open. Now, stitch the right and left sides together (optional: stitch twice for strength) and press seams open.

  8. Pinch the openings of the corners together, matching your side seam and bottom seam, stitch both corners closed. Serge or finish raw edge.

  9. Iron top edge down an inch to the inside of the bag. Straps will now point out of the bag.

    1. Stitch about ¾” down around the top of the bag (bag should be to the left of your needle and straps to the right of your needle).

    2. Stitch once more closer to the top edge less than a ¼” away (I reinforced the straps, backstitching and proceeding when I came to a strap for added strength).

    3. Admire your work because you’re done!

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