DIY: How to Make a Custom Tote Bag

Tote bags have become very important in everyday life. You can make a DIY custom tote bag in your home.

All you need to do is find the perfect tote bag pattern and produce your own bag. You can get a design for a DIY tote online. In this post, we will show you how to make your own tote bag.

How to Make Your DIY Custom Tote Bagrequest quote from zigpac

In this section, we will provide you a series of steps to help you make your tote bag.

Prepare your desired fabric

The first thing to do when you want to make a DIY custom tote bag is to choose the fabric you will use. For some people, this is about the hardest step of the lot and we understand why. There are so many options to choose from, it all depends on what you tote bag pattern you want.

Whether it is an old jeans material or a new satin material, your choice is what matters. Here are some things to consider when choosing your fabric:

  1. What is the purpose of the tote bag? If it will be used for carrying heavy items, then it is best you make use of sturdy fabrics. Any of corduroy, cotton, or thick polyester will do. A light material will give way when it is used to carry sharp or heavy items. 
  2. What kind of pattern do you want? When you check DIY tote online, you will see tons of patterns to inspire you. You can decide on a single color or a mix of colors, it all lies in what you prefer.
  3. Do you prefer a lined bag? To achieve this, you need to mix two fabrics, one heavy and the other light. While the outer fabric is heavy, the liner is mostly light in nature.
  4. If you are making use of sturdier fabrics, you should get stronger needles as well as a heavy-duty machine.
  5. We advise that you wash a new fabric and iron it before use. This way, the tote doesn’t shrink after it is made.

After choosing your fabric, you should cut out two rectangles. Both rectangles should be the same in size and their sizes should be based on how large you want the bag. You can make the cut using a pair of fabric scissors. When you do this, consider the following:

  1. Always leave at least an inch allowance for hemming.
  2. If the tote bag is to be lined, then you are making four rectangles. Two of the sturdier material and two of the light material.

Now, you can mark the locations where you will place the handles of your DIY custom tote bag. To do this, you should fold each rectangle in thirds by the length. Pick up your fabric pencil or pen and make a marking to show the twin creases. 

These marks indicate where you prefer the handles to stay later in the process. To ensure that the handles are placed properly fold lengthwise, not downwards.

DIY custom tote bag

Sewing the bag

After you have prepared your fabric, it is time to sew the bag. Take the following steps to do this:

Firstly, you need to hem each top edge of the rectangles you cut earlier. The top edges will become the opening of the bag later when you complete the sewing. Lay each rectangle on the wrong side which is where the pattern isn’t so bright.

Now create a one-inch fold that you can hold in place using a couple of straight pins. Then create a guiding crease using an iron. Do this for the second rectangle as well so that you will have uniform hems on both. 

After this, create a half-inch stitch beneath the folds on each rectangle by hand or with a sewing machine. 

You can now sew the rectangles to make the body of your DIY custom tote bag. Put the two rectangles together, one back facing the other. This way you sew with the wrong sides of each rectangle facing outward. With a straight stitch, sew the bottom and along each side. Don’t forget to leave an opening at the top.

As you sew, remember to miter the bottom corners. To do this, stack the side and bottom seams before sewing across each corner. Ensure this seam is perpendicular to the other existing seams. You can play with this to create a unique tote bag design.

Create the handles 

When you search for DIY tote online, you will see all sorts of handles which you can use for your bag. You can decide to use the same fabric as the body or a different one. When you do, cut the handles out based on how long you think they should be.

For width, ensure they are about 2-inches then you fold each in half with the inside facing outward. Now create a crease using an iron. Either by hand or with a machine, you can sew each long edge together.

With a wire extracted from an old coat hanger, you can turn the handles inside-out. When you do, flatten each handle using an iron. 

It is time to sew the handles to your tote. Fold each end by half-inch and with an iron, create a crease. Remember the marks you made on the fabric with the fabric pencil earlier? Place each handle above a mark and stitch it in place. 

DIY custom tote bag

Decorating your tote bag

This is the last step to creating your tote bag. You can choose to screen print your preferred design. For now, this is the most popular method of decorating a tote bag. When you do this, pick designs that match the color of the bag and make it more beautiful.

Other methods of decorating a tote bag include adding rhinestones, appliques, buttons, or painting. Choosing a style of design is dependent on your preferences and the purpose of the tote bag.


In this post, we have shown you how to make a DIY custom tote bag. You can decide what tote bag design suits your purposes best. Check DIY tote online to get inspired by different designs.

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