How to Sew a Lined Tote Bag with Front Pockets

Tote bag with front pockets.

2 main bag panels, I used ‘Gleeful Seedheads’ – lime green 44cm by 36cm
2 pieces of interning, I used H640 fusible interfacing by Fliseline (size as above)
2 main bag – lining panels, I’ve used ‘Gleeful Flower Garden’ – grey 38cm by 36cm
4 pocket panels, I’ve used 2 ‘Gleeful Flower’ and for the lining 2 ‘Gleeful Flower Garden’ – grey 25cm by 36cm
2 handle strap to coordinate I’ve used the ‘Gleeful Flower Garden’ – grey 112cm by 8cm
Coordinating cotton thread
1 magnetic clasp (a small piece of interlining if you are not interlining your bag).

All seam allowances are 1 cm

Materials needed to make a tote bog with a magnetic clasp.


Creating the Main Bag Panels

Top hem for a tote bag.

Iron on your interfacing to the wrong side of both main bag panels. I cut my interfacing 1cm shorter on all sides so that it doesn’t make the seams too bulky.

Turn over a 1cm hem on the top of your panel and stitch in place. Then turn down 4cm and iron to create your top bag edge and an internal flap.

Positioning the magnetic clasp on a tote bag opening.

Find the centre point of your bag panel and the centre point of your internal flap, line up the magnet clasp and mark with a soluble pen. Do the same on the other panel.

If you are not adding interlining to your bag, now add a small patch of interlining onto the wrong side of your fabric where the magnetic clasp is going to be inserted. This helps to reinforce it as the magnetic clasps can tear at the fabric.

Making holes to insert a magnetic clasp.

Use a seam ripper to make a hole trough the fabric and interlining on the right and left markers ready for the clasp prongs. Do the same on the other panel.

Fitting the back plate of a magnetic bag clasp.

Push the clasp prongs through from the right side of the fabric and secure on the wrong side with the back plate. Finish by flattening the prongs outwards. Repeat for the other panel.

Fold the flaps back down.

Magnet bag clasps on a tote bag.

Creating the Pockets

Creating pockets with lining.

Take 1 outer pocket fabric and 1 pocket lining fabric and place right sides together. Sew together along the top edge with a 1cm seam allowance.

Repeat for the other pocket.

Front pockets for a tote bag.

Turn right sides out and press. Top stitch along the top edge.

Repeat for the other pocket.

Creating the Bag Straps

Ironing hems in place for bag straps.

Fold the strap in half longways, press with an iron. Open it out and then fold both raw edges into to the pressed centre line leaving a small gap. Fold in the two ends.

Top stitching bag handles.

Fold the strap back in half and top stitch them together.

Repeat for the other strap.

Attaching bag handles to a tote bag.

Lay your bag panel flat with your clasp flap opened out.

Place the straps equal distances apart on the top of your bag panel. Make sure that the ends down far enough so that they will be concealed into the pocket and your straps are a length that you like.

Pin in place and then top stitch onto your bag panel making sure that you do not sew the handle onto your inside flap. Just sew to the top of the front bag panel.

Repeat on your other bag panel.

Constructing the Tote Bag

Making a tote bag with front pockets.

Lay your pocket panel in place and sew a line of stitching in the centre from the base of the bag to the top of the pocket to create two pockets. Repeat for the other panel.

Sewing a tote bag.

Place right sides together and sew down along one side across the bottom and up the other side joining your two panels together.
Turn right sides out.

Lining for a tote bag.

Place your 2 bag lining panels with right sides together and sew down along one side across the bottom and up the other side with a 1 cm seam. This will join your two panels together.

Turn right sides out

Inserting lining into a tote bag.

Place your lining into your bag and fold down the clasp flaps by 4cm.

Pin in place and sew along the bottom edge of the flap.

Your bag is now complete just press with an iron and enjoy.

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