DIY Monogram Tote Bag

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 Bag craft - These cute handbags make a great beginner sewing project. Free sewing pattern!

You will need:
3/4 yard duck fabric
3/4 yard duck fabric in a coordinating color
3/4 yard heavy interfacing
All-purpose thread
Rotary cutter and mat
3″ wide ruler
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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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.



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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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


And stuff the liner in the bag where it belongs


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.


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

If you like this tote bag tutorial, check out my Mug Rug tutorial. Mug rugs are a combination of a coaster and a place for snacks. Super cute gift idea!

DIY Quilted Mug Rug

Young Living Essential Oils Premium Starter kit Bonus Items


  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!


    • 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.

  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?


  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?

    • Carol Byassee says:

      I did the same thing. When you put the tote inside the inner lining make sure the handles are touching the outside fabric. Don’t put them inside the tote. Hope that maj
      Kes sense. Study the picture. It shows the handles touching the blue chevron.

  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:

  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!).

  39. do you know if using regular cotton fabric would be okay to do this? Looked on hobby lobby didn’t find great patterns and need to make four for my bridesmaids?

  40. Wonderful tutorial! I’ve made four so far for gifts and love them!

    I wanted to throw some ideas out there for other ladies. One, I did reduce the size to make a perfect little bag as a gift that I filled with bath and body works items. I think I took off five inches off the top and maybe four inches off the sides and it turned out perfect just like the big one. Also, I don’t have a embroider machine so I used iron on transfer paper and ironed on large one letter initials on mine and they turned out SO cute. I will warn you though, the iron on paper I used did have a slight cream shade to it in the areas where there was what I will call dead space. But most of my duck fabric already had a creamish color to it so for those, you couldn’t see where I had cut out around the letters.


  41. Kim Arthur says:

    Just made a couple of these. They are so cute. Thanks for sharing. I want to try and make a bigger one for my Granddaughter to use for a laundry bag in her room. Thanks again.

  42. Would you make one for me? How much would you charge? No time to try out my talent on this…. but needing a new bag I love!

  43. Love the pattern. Just finish my first bag. Think I will put cardboard in bottom. Keep the patterns coming. Merry Christma .

  44. Brette Averitt says:

    Does someone want to make me one of these? I will pay!! I cann’t sew, and really don’t have the time, but love the bag.

    • Chris Senef says:

      I would love to make one for you….if you are still interested….

    • Olivia Davis says:

      I made 9 of this for teacher gifts – a few modifications using things learned from creating many other totes. I liked this one because there was a lot less cutting than some of the others I have made.

  45. Jordan Cline says:

    I don’t understand why the interfacing is cut to 19″ wide, but the duck fabric is only 18″ (1/2 yard of fabric) do I cut the interfacing to 18″ to match the fabric???

  46. Brenda Russell says:

    On step number 4, I wish you would show a picture just prior to this step to show which sides you stop stitch together. It could be the top or sides. Which is it?

  47. chris senef says:

    Can you tell me the font that was used? Love what you did!

  48. Hello! I just made this bag. Thank you for the tutorial. It turned out lovely.

    PLEASE NOTE: the amounts of fabric in the instructions are not correct (1/2 yard of each fabric, 3/4 yard of interfacing). I had to go back to the store and spend about twice as much if I had known the first time. Please change this in the instructions so that there is MORE fabric than interfacing. Having 1 yard of each (1 yard inside fabric, 1 yard outside fabric, 1 yard interfacing) would be more than enough.

  49. Hi Jenn, I just found your pattern via our beloved Pinterest! Thanks ever so much for the great detailed photos and instructions. I have always shyed away from making bags but your tutorial has given me the confidence to try! Wish me luck…
    Hugs and Happy Holidays,
    Beth P

  50. Is there. You tube video or anything to this? Im stuck at step 4. I sewed my two sides but i dont see the seams you are saying to press to get a corner????

  51. Emily, if the bag is sitting in the upright position, you will sew the bottom of the side to the bottom of the bag. The seams for the corners will make an upside down ‘T” shape. Hope that helps.

    I just made this bag and despite a couple snags on my behalf it turned out well :-) I know have a seam running across the bottom because it didn’t cut it with the squares in the fold. No bigs. Just sewed those together and cut open the other end. It was an easy fix and no loss of fabric.

    Just a tip, I used temp sewing adhesive on the outside fabric and interface and it made it soo much easier to keep lined up to sew together :-)

  52. Vivian Hurley says:

    Which Brother sewing machine do you have? Would you recommend your machine or another model?

  53. I had a young lady ask me to make these bags for gifts for her bridesmaids. Unfortunately she purchased the fabric before asking because the fabric requirements are wrong!!! There are 18 inches in a 1/2 yard the dimensions needed, 19 + 3 inches for the straps, equals 22 inches there is no way possible to get that pattern cut out of 1/2 yard of fabric!! I ended up making her bags smaller so not to cost her anymore money. Please for the sake of beginning sewers can you change the fabric requirements not all read the comments to see that an error was made.

  54. So cute

  55. I want my bag to be taller than it is wide so if i reversed the instructions and did 14″ wide 19″ tall instead would this still work or would that mess up the size of the notch? If I would have to change the notch size as well does anybody know what to change it to? Thanks!

  56. Hello. Found this pin on Pinterest. It is a very easy bag to make and the instructions with the pictures are very easy to follow. I made two of them. I definitely plan on making more of them! Thank you for the easy to follow tutorial.

  57. Hello, I came across this pattern using pintrest and I am about to try this out. I have been looking for a pattern to use to recycle old sheets for grocery bags, Thank you for posting this pattern! It looks simple enough.I do have one question though, Why do you not recommend fusible interfacing? I am not familiar with using interfacing so before I tackle this pattern I would like to know what I may need to buy extra. Thank you!

  58. Thank you for the pattern. Just finished mine. I’m a very experienced seamstress and this was very quick and easy. Love it. I appreciate you sharing. I plan to make more for friends.

  59. love this pattern of the tote bags. thanks for sharing!

  60. Is there a pattern to download?

  61. Kathy Walker says:

    Love these bags. The tutorial was so easy to follow and I’ve made several of them. They turned out wonderful.


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