How to: Make a Tote Bag with Pockets

August 04, 2019

How to: Make a Tote Bag with Pockets

You need:

  • Fabric: 175cm/73.5” x 105cm/42” Any fabric will be suitable. Make sure your fabric is washable, this way you can wash your bag as needed.
  • Lining: 275cm/115.5” x 165cm/66” We used the same fabric outside and inside as a lining.
  • Express your creativity by adding different fabric as a lining.
  • Contrast fabric: 100cm/42” x 60cm/24” Let your imaginations loose-
  • Batting: 275cm/115.5” x 165cm/66” Any type, thickness, and density you feel comfortable using on your embroidery machine. We experimented with quite a variety and they all seem to work fine.
  • Webbing: Webbing approx: 40” or 90 cm. This is to be used as handles. You can even make your own from fabric or use matching ribbon
  • Thread: We used Marathon Rayon Thread 40wt. Use the same thread top and bottom for the satin outlines as this ensures a neat and professional finish. Also for your 1st, second and penultimate color stop (thus applique steps), use the same color as for your final satin outline. This way you do not have any running stitches not matching the satin outline.
  • Stabilizer: You need to hoop the stabilizer to finish your applique panels in the hoop (we use water-soluble stabilizer, but you are welcome to use whatever you found works for you.
  • Adhesive spray: We used 505 spray
  • Sewing required: You will need a sewing machine to assemble the TOTE BAG. A simple zigzag stitch works fine.

 A: Front panel to be completed 1st (pockets)

 Step 1.
  • Get all your goodies ready.
  • Hoop your stabilizer

Step 2.

Stitch 1st Color stop. This is a running stitch indicating where the batting (1st layer) and fabric (2d layer) must be placed on top of the hooped stabilizer.

Step 3.

Note that the batting must be slightly smaller and the fabric slightly larger than the indicated running stitch.

Step 4.

  • Use adhesive spray to keep batting and fabric in place.
  • Stitch 2d Color stop. This is a zigzag stitch where the fabric and batting will be stitched to the indicated area in the hoop.

Step 5.

Stitch 3d Color stop onward. The design will now be stitched – see color chart included in your PDF (in the zip file, you received with your download)

Step 6.

  • After the "picture" design is finished you can remove the hoop from your embroidery machine . (Important: Do not interfere with the hooped fabric!)
  • Cut away excess fabric from the front.

Step 7.

  • Turn hoop over.
  • Spray adhesive spray (to the back area) and attach the fabric you will be using as lining.

Step 8.

Attach hoop to embroidery machine and stitch the penultimate Color Stop. This is where the lining will be stitched with a running stitch to the indicated area in the hoop.

Step 9.

Remove hoop and turn around again. Cut away excess fabric. Attach hoop to embroidery machine.

Step 10.

Last color stop will be the satin outline. Important: As this will be the pocket, you will notice the U shape satin is very narrow. This will be covered in-the-hoop in the steps to follow.


B: Back panel will now be completed (keep finished front panels ready)

Step 11.

  • Hoop your stabilizer
  • Stitch 1st Color stop. This is a running stitch indicating where the batting (1st layer) and fabric (2d layer) must be placed on top of the hooped stabilizer.

Step 12.

Cut away excess fabric from the front.

Step 13.

The following color stop is a running stitch the same shape as the pocket top.
This will be used as guide when the 2 panels are combined as one.

Step 14.

Turn around the hoop. Reverse side facing you.

Step 15.

Spray adhesive spray (to the back area) and attach the fabric you will be using as

Step 16.

  • Attach hoop to embroidery machine and stitch the penultimate Color Stop. This is where the lining will be stitched with a running stitch to the indicated area in the hoop.
  • Remove hoop and turn around again. Cut away excess fabric. * Attach hoop again to embroidery machine.

C: Pocket will be now attached to back panel "IN-THE-HOOP"

Step 17.

  • With the back panel still in the hoop - you will need to attach the pocket.
  • Follow these steps closely

Step 18.

With adhesive spray line up the pocket from the bottom of the back panel.

Step 19.

The top of the pocket should be more or less on the indicated running stitch visible on the back panel.

Step 20.

The bottom of the pocket should align as close as possible to the bottom of the back panel.

Step 21.

  • This is what the panels should look like before stitching.
  • Make sure you used enough adhesive spray to keep panels in place.

Step 22.

  • The final satin outline will now cover the outside edge of the back panel.
  • The pocket will automatically be attached to the back panel now.

Step 23.

Double underlays will secure the panels in place - before the neat satin stitch will cover the underlay stitching.

Step 24.

Your first pocket is finished!

Step 25.

This is what the back or inside will look like.

Step 26.

  • Do the same with all 4 side panels.
  • The side and base panels can be completed the same way as steps 1 to 10 indicate.

D: Construction of your TOTE BAG

Step 27.

Lay out all the panels as indicated on the picture.

Step 28.

  • Stitch the 2 base panels to each other
  • Now you can stitch the side panels on either side of the base panels

Step 29.

Stitch front panels together. Do the same with the back panels.


Step 30.

Attach the webbing (handles) to top of back and front panels.

Step 31.

  • You can decide to attach the webbing to the inside or outside of your TOTE BAG.
  • For a different effect I decided to attach this one to the outside.

Step 32.

  • Secure the webbing with a X inside a square stitching.
  • It will prevent the handles from tearing loose.

Step 33.

Lay out the joined panels again to see how they will fit.

Step 34.

Stitch the front and back panels to the side/base strip as indicated in this picture.

Step 35.

  • All panels are now joined to other.
  • All left to do is to close the side seams.

Step 36.

The neat and easy way to do this is by starting from the top and close the side
seam from top to inside base of the TOTE BAG.

Step 37.

Starting from the top...

Step 38.

Close all 4 side seams and your TOTE BAG is finished.

Step 39.

Ready to do the other Fuzzy Tote bags? CLICK CLICK CLICK

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