Our Easy, Easier, and Easiest Totes are just that… easy! However, with French seams and some clever folds, instead of slapdash, these Totes are perfectly sharp. Use them all summer long for tooling around town or country, farmer’s market or beach!
This pattern is really three in one: The Easiest is a simple fold-and-sew tote, which you can whip up in a half an hour or less. The Easier version features a roomy boxed bottom, and it takes just a few minutes more. And the Easy Tote comes together in less than an hour, plus it has a lining and a pocket!
With the lazy days of summer rapidly approaching, I have a feeling this pattern is going to fit my mood. Beautiful fabric + a few quick cuts and a couple of seams = my idea of summer sewing heaven! -Molly
To make one tote in any of the three styles…
- Outer Fabric: A ½ yard of medium or heavyweight fabric. We used Robert Kaufman’s 10 oz Denim in Indigo Washed, Robert Kaufman’s Railroad Denim in Deluxe Twill Stripe Indigo, and Purl Soho’s Big Duck 10 oz Canvas in Natural.
- Lining Fabric (optional, for “Easy Tote” only): A ½ yard of lightweight fabric. We used Kokka’s Nani Iro Double Gauze Spring 2015 in Spectacle Ka.
- Handles: 2 yards of Purl Soho’s Sangle Cotton Webbing. We used Light Blue, Natural, and Yellow.
- A 110-yard spool of Gutermann’s Cotton Thread to match the Outer Fabric. We used color 7330 for the denims and color 1040 for the canvas.
Easiest Tote: 15 ¼ inches wide X 16 ¼ inches tall with a 14-inch handle drop
Easier and Easy Totes: 15 ¼ inches wide X 14 ¼ inches tall x 4 inches deep with a 14-inch handle drop
For All Versions
From the Outer Fabric cut…
- A rectangle 18 inches wide by 36 inches long. This is the Bag Panel.
From the Webbing cut…
- Two 33-inch lengths. These are the Handles.
For the Easy Tote
From the Lining Fabric cut…
- A rectangle 18 inches wide by 32 inches long. This is the Lining Panel.
- A rectangle 7 inches wide and 7 ½ inches tall. This is the Pocket Piece.
Easiest Tote (Fold-and-Sew)
Step 1: Fold Top Edges
Press the Outer Panel, right sides together, in half so that its two short sides meet. Orient the piece so that the fold is at the bottom.
Press one of the top 18-inch edges down ½ inch towards the wrong side and then again 1 ½ inches towards the wrong side. Repeat for the second top short edge. Press a center crease at the top of these folds by bringing the top corners together.
Step 2: Attach Handles
Slip one raw end of one Handle under a top fold so that its inside edge is 3 inches to the right of the center crease. Then, without twisting the Handle, place the second raw end under the fold so that its inside edge is 3 inches to the left of the center crease.
Fold the Handle upwards over the top fold. Pin the Handle and the fold into place.
Sew the fold and Handle into place ¼ inch from the bottom of the fold and then ¼ inch from the top of the fold.
Repeat to attach the second Handle to the second folded edge.
Step 3: Sew Together with French Seams
Press the Bag Panel, wrong sides together, and pin together the raw edges.
Sew each pinned side together with a ¼-inch seam allowance.
Turn the piece wrong sides out and press it flat.
Pin together each of the two sewn side edges.
Sew each pinned side together with a 5/8-inch seam allowance.
Turn the right sides out, press, and you’re all done!
Easier Tote (Boxed-Bottom)
Follow the Easiest Tote pattern through Step 3. Make sure the bottom fold is crisply pressed. This fold is the Bottom Crease.
Step 4: Add Boxed Bottom
Turn the bag upside down. Pull the two sides of the bag apart from one another so that the side seam is in the middle and one of the bottom corners is at the top (the other bottom corner is out of the way, pointing down in the opposite direction). Poke the top corner out so it’s very pointy. Line up the side seam with the Bottom Crease and press the corner flat, as shown above.
Use a fabric marker or pencil to mark a line that measures 2 ½ inches across the corner and is perpendicular to the side seam.
Pin the two layers of fabric together along this mark.
Sew the sides together along the marked line, then trim the corner off, ¼ inch from this seam.
Turn the bag wrong sides out and press this corner in the same manner, with the two sides pulled away from one another and the side seam and Bottom Crease on top of one another.
Mark a line perpendicular to the side seam, 4 inches across the corner.
Pin the two layers of fabric together along this line and sew along the line.
Turn the tote right sides out, repeat for the second bottom corner, and you’re all done!
Easy Tote (Lined with Boxed Bottom)
This version starts out with a couple of extra steps and then follows the Easier Tote pattern.
Fold a long raw edge of the Pocket Piece twice ½ inch towards the wrong side. Press, pin, and edgestitch this fold down. This is the top of the Pocket.
Zigzag stitch along the remaining three raw edges and press these three edges ½inch once towards the wrong side.
Attach Pocket to Lining
Press the Pocket in half so that the left and right sides meet, creating a center crease.
Press the Lining Panel in half so that the two long sides meet, creating a center crease.
With right sides facing up, place the Pocket on top of the Lining Panel so that the top of the Pocket is 2 ½ inches from the top 18-inch edge of the Lining Panel, and their center creases are lined up. Pin the left, bottom and right sides of the Pocket to the Lining Panel.
Edgestitch the Pocket into place along the three pinned sides. This is the Lining.
Add Lining to Bag Panel
Follow Step 1 of the Easiest Tote, i.e. fold the top edges of the Bag Panel.
Now, wrong sides together and lining up the Center creases, slip the top edges if the Lining under the top folds of the Bag Panel. The edges of the Lining abut the tops of the Bag Panel’s folds.
From here, just follow Steps 2-4 of the Easiest and Easier Tote patterns, treating the Lining as part of the Bag Panel.
In the end you’ll have a boxed bottom tote with a lining and pocket… Easy!