DIY Monogram Tote Bag

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Ladies Craft Night at our church got pretty in-depth compared to our usual scope of practice. ;)

Thanks to a very talented member and her crazy-cool embroidery machine, we made our own monogram handbags. Here’s how we made them and you can to!

DIY Tote Bags - These cute handbags make a great beginner sewing project. #crafts #diy

You will need:
1/2 yard duck fabric
1/2 yard duck fabric in a coordinating color
3/4 yard heavy interfacing
All-purpose thread
Rotary cutter and mat
3″ wide ruler
Scissors
Sewing machine
Ironing board and iron
Embroidery machine (optional) ** if you have a Brother PE-700 go ahead and monogram your initial on the outer fabric. I don’t and have no idea how it’s done, but am grateful to Rachel for doing it for me.

Brother Embroidery Machine

Step 1 – Fold the heavy interfacing in half and cut a pattern like the one pictured below. The dimensions are 14″ high and 19″ wide.

purse pattern

There are two rectangular notches cut in the top corners that measure 2 1/2″ by 2″ (picture below)

diy canvas tote handbag pattern

This is what it should look like unfolded

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Step 2 – Using the interfacing as a pattern, cut each 1/2 yard piece of duck into the same shape. Use a mat, rotary cutter and ruler to do this making sure to salvage as much fabric as possible since you’ll need the leftovers for straps

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And it’s easier to cut the two notches with scissors

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Now you should have a piece of interfacing and two pieces of fabric, all cut into the same shape.

Step 3  – Choose which fabric you want to use as your bag liner. Fold so that the right sides are together and topstitch both sides. Press seams open.

Step 4 – This is so hard to describe! Align the seams that you just stitched, right sides together at the rectangular openings. This forms a little “mouth” and will be the corners of your bag lining. See photo below

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Stitch this closed and repeat on the other side of the bag liner. Press the seams open. See? Corners.

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Step 5 – Stitch the fabric you’ve chosen for the outside of the bag to the interfacing by topstitching all along the edges except for the rim of the bag. You wan’t the interfacing and the outside fabric to function as one piece. You can use a wide zig-zag stitch around the rim of the outer bag/interface piece to make it easier to topstitch later. Optional but does make it more manageable when you get to that stage.

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Step 6 – Repeat steps 3 and 4 with this piece. Viola! It’s starting to look like a bag.

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Step 7- Time for straps! Using a 3″ ruler and mat for straight edges, use the rotary cutter to cut a strip of fabric #1 into a 3″ wide strip (the exact size of the ruler) that is 58″-60″ long. Do the same with fabric #2. If your fabric isn’t long enough, cut another 3″ wide strip and sew them together to get the length you need.

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Step 8 – Iron each strip in half horizontally so there’s a crease down the middle all the way down the strips

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Unfold then iron each edge into the middle crease you just made so that both strips look like this

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Step 9 – Place both strips wrong side together and topstitch down both sides. Cut this strip in half. Your straps are finished!

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Step 10 – Measure 5″ from edge of the outer bag/interfacing and pin raw edge of one strap into place. Matching pattern to pattern (so I placed the blue chevron of the strap against the blue chevon of the bag) and lining up the strap edge with the bag edge. Repeat measuring 5″ from the other side

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Repeat on opposite side of bag until straps are pinned in four places. Sew straps in place as close to the edge of the bag as possible.

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Step 11 – Place outer shell inside sewed liner (opposite sides together). Match up seams and pin together. Pin where the straps are too to make it easier. Stitch around the edge leave 5″ -6″ open.

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Step 12 – Turn the liner right side out using the 5″-6″ opening you left

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And stuff the liner in the bag where it belongs

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Step 13 – Iron the rim of the bag flat (you’ll have to manhandle the open portion before pinning to look like the rest of the rim) then topstitch the entire rim as close to the edge as possible. Make sure you are stitching on the correct side of the handles too. The chevron side in my case.

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Run an iron over the finished product so it looks pretty and enjoy your new bag!

DIY Tote Bag

 

And here are a few more fabric combos for your inspiration

diy handbags

diy canvas totes

Comments

  1. I like your color combos best Jenn….all are adorable.

  2. This is so cute! Perfect for everyday use too!

  3. The color combinations on your bag are so pretty! =)
    Everyone did a great job!

  4. Looks like a high quality bag!

  5. WOW! What a great job. I love it. I want to come to craft night :).

  6. Those are adorable. I’d have to find someone to make mine:)

  7. Are the main and lining fabrics cut on the fold as well?

  8. Hi , I wanted to ask what seam allowance you used? Don’t judge lol I know I could probably use what ever I wanted all the way around but the ocd crazy lady in my head wont let me !! I have to know so I at least have a starting point! lol sorry!
    I one of those people that read the paper directions several times before starting and I have already read your instructions 3 times! So I am almost ready to attemp this. I am a beginning sewer and embroider. I have a new embroidery/sewing machine, and want to make some birthday and Christmas presents, These will be great!
    Thanks so much for sharing your project with the rest of us, I love the colours you all used!

    J.

    • We used the edge of the machine foot as a guide while stitching. Not sure what that is in inches or centimeters!

      • Hi I just wanted to tell you that I finished a bag for a friend it is not as colourful as the ones that you all made but it has some funny giraffes on the inside that I knew my friend would smile about and love. I also added a pocket to the inside of mine, something simple that I could do so she could put her glasses and phone in and be able to locate them quickly. Us older people need these essentials at hand quickly! lol.
        I just want to thank you again it was so kind of you to post the tutorial it inspired me to get some presents made for Christmas!. I sent pics to my SIL she has been looking for projects too.
        Thanks!

  9. Maria York says:

    Just wondering where the seam comes in that is in the bottom of the bag. If we are using one big piece of fabric why is there a seam in the bottom of the purse. also, could I use fusiable interfacing? Thanks!

    • Maria, if I remember correctly, I think I didn’t line mine up properly to cut on the fold, so I had to stitch some fabric together to make it work. If you follow the directions, it’s not necessary. Fusible interfacing isn’t recommended.

  10. What are the finished dimensions of the bag. Wanted to make something to carry my notebook and bible to bible study and am hoping this is a good size. Thanks.

  11. Cheryl Neptune says:

    I love your bags. Could you please tell me the name of the font used for the monnogram and the size of the monnogram?

    Thanks!

  12. This is a great project for a fundraiser we’ve having to send our kids to Europe ! Is it okay if I use this idea to make and sell at a Market for this purpose?

  13. Meredith says:

    Great easy pattern! I made one for my sister in law in about an hour! That was first time ever doing a tote and it turned out great! Wish I could post a picture of it somehow. Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. I don’t understand. The duck fabric. And the heavy interfacing? Where can I find that? Can I use any fabric?

  15. Can you just use fusible interfacing and forget about sewing it on?

  16. I am stuck on step 11. once i flip my bag, the straps are stuck inside. what am I doing wrong?

  17. rena harris says:

    Hi. I came across your cute tote bags on pinterest where its a do it yourself project. I was wondering if I could just order one from you?

  18. Cute bag!! I’ve got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for tomorrow morning that links to your tutorial:
    http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-monogrammed-tote-bag/2014/07/22/
    –Anne

  19. Where did you get your fabric and for how much? They are all so cute!!!

  20. How much time does it take to make the bag? My niece wants me to make one for carrying stuff fir her baby to daycare.

  21. are straps really 60 inches long for each side? That seems like a lot!

  22. Ashley Johnson says:

    In the process of making an orange and black SF Giants tote for game days! I was also inspired to cross stitch the SF logo on the front. This tutorial is super easy to follow and I felt my imagination spinning with possibilities! Thank you!

  23. What was the time factor involved when taught to the women? Could it be done in 2 hours…A Super Saturday completed project? :)

  24. Great tutorial! Thanks for the pics!

  25. This was an awesome tutorial! It was easy to follow and turned out great!

  26. I love this bag, but in making it, I’ve discovered that the amount of fabric you’ve designated does not allow for cutting bag 19″ wide or making straps with out piecing them. I will make the 1/2 yd do, but I think 3/4 yd for each fabric might be a better buy.

  27. what are the dimensions of the bag once it is finished? Just wandering if it will be big enough for me to use for school and to carry my laptop.

  28. I just finished my first bag! I was so pleased how it turned out & will be making these for Christmas gifts! Thanks so much, great tutorial!

  29. Adrienne Brimer says:

    I’m just curious. What type of sewing machine needle did you use? Quilting or jean needle? I’m afraid since I’ve never used a thick interfacing before.

  30. This may seem trivial, but the little cut-out rectangles at the beginning…are they 2 1/2″ wide or high? Thanks!

  31. I absolutely love these! I’m on my 2nd one, with fabric to make 3 more! Thank you, thank you, thank you fir sharing!;)

  32. I just made this bag and turned out great. It is a tad small for what I wanted to use it for so if I wanted to make a bigger version how would I figure out the notch size? Thanks for the great tutorial.

  33. Thanks for sharing the tutorial. My husband asked if I would make a tote bag for the ladies at his work for Christmas. This will be a quick and easy bag to make!

  34. Love this pattern. As one of the others commented, I am trying to find a size that fits a Bible and notebook for a friend! PERFECT. Thank you.

    Also might share with our church craft night – we meet the first Friday of each month and most months we do have some kind of project or tutorial for anyone who wants to learn. Glad to hear there are others doing the same thing at their church.

  35. To make the bag a bit wider….as in the sides wider….wouldn’t I just cut the notch more than 2 inches? Love this bag. I am making one for me and one for my daughter to use as a diaper bag. I am also including pockets in the diaper bag. I was just wanting the diaper bag to be just a bit wider from back to front. A bit roomier.

  36. Just curious where you found such cute fabric?!?!

  37. I am trying to visualize this to see if I want to try it out. Can you tell me the finished dimensions of the bag? Thank you.

  38. What a great bag and clear instructions. The bags are great. Using the bag stiffening is wonderful. The bags stand up nicely when made with the strong interfacing. Thanks for a job well done! I make pockets inside my bags with a zip across them. This way you can store things like little shopping bags, notebooks and phones (no zip across the phone bags!).

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