31 Days of Shut Up and Sew: Square Bottom Tote Bag

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's Day 17 of...

If you're just joining me on this crazy sewing roller coaster, welcome!  I'm so happy you're here! Basically, I'm attempting a new sewing project every week day in the month of October, and sharing round-ups of my favorite sewing tutorials every weekend.  It's been wild and crazy, but super fun, too!

Today, I'm sharing this cute square bottom tote bag in a fun chevron print.

The fabric really inspired this project.  I wanted to show off this fun print in a big way, and what better way than a huge tote bag?

1/2 yard exterior fabric
1/2 yard interior fabric
fusible interfacing (not shown - I like Pellon Craft Fuse)
1 yard sturdy trim for handles

1.5 hours

First, figure out how big you want your finished tote bag to be, then use this diagram to help you determine the size of your fabric pieces, substituting in your width, depth, and height measurements.

I hope that makes sense.  The 3 in the length of fabric equation is just half the measurement of the depth.

Okay, so now that you have your fabrics cut, pin them right sides together and sew around 3 sides, using 1/4" seam allowance.  Make sure that you leave the correct side open!

Now the fun part:  boxing the corners!  The process is exactly like what we did for the zipper pouch, but I'll reiterate it here.  We'll box the exterior and interior separately.  

Starting at one of the bottom corners of your bag, line up the side seam with the bottom seam as perfectly as you can, then iron a nice sharp crease and pin to hold.

You should have a cute little triangle with a seam in the middle.  Take your measuring tape and draw a line where the width measures exactly what you wanted the depth of your bag to me.  In my case, 6 inches.

Sew directly on the line you just drew to create a perfect boxed corner!  Repeat for the other side.

When you turn the bag right side out, you should have this:

See the nicer boxed corner here?  Iron it so it's nice and crisp.

I ironed on my fusible interfacing after I did the main construction of the bag, but you could do it before if you wanted.  I just cut some rectangles about half an inch shorter on 3 sides and an inch shorter on the top and ironed them to the wrong side of my exterior fabric, on all four sides.

Now box the corners of your interior fabric the same way we did the exterior.  Remember, we're leaving this one wrong side out so the inside will be nice and clean looking.

I also decided I wanted a pocket inside my bag for my keys, cell phone, whatever, so I took a scrap of the chevron fabric and ironed down 1/2" seam on all sides.

Then I sewed down the top...

Pinned it to the interior fabric where I wanted it...

...then sewed it around the remaining 3 sides.

Okay, so now we're ready to put the two pieces together!  Insert the interior into the exterior and pin the top of the two together, just so the interior doesn't slink back inside (remember, it doesn't have interfacing!).

With the two pinned together, turn the bag inside out, so the interior fabric is on the outside - careful not to poke yourself with any pins!  Turn down the top of the exterior fabric 1/2" and iron, then another 1/2" and iron.  Now all the raw edges along the top of the fabric should be covered.

This is where you can use a fun stitch - I chose a zig zag (for obvious reasons!).  Sew all the way around and you should have a pretty awesome looking bag!  But we still need handles.

Cut the yard of trim in half - each half will be one handle.  Find the center of the bag and pin your handles to the inside.  Once they're pinned, try on the bag to make sure they're not too close or two far apart and that the handle length is good.  Then just sew them on!  I used a zig zag stitch and sewed over my zig zag seam so that it wouldn't be too obvious where I had attached the handles.

The bottom was a little floppy for me, so I cut down a spare piece of foam core I had in my stash and put it in the bottom to give it some stability.

And there you have it - a finished square bottom bag!

What I Learned:
When ripping out seams, take extra care not to rip your fabric right along with the thread - whoops!

To read all 31 Days of Shut Up and Sew, click here.


  1. I love the shape of that bag! The pattern is supper cute too! I'm going to pin this! I'm having so much fun watching you sew I hope you don't mind if I mention it on my blog.

  2. This is really cute and looks easy enough, I'll have to try it! The fabric is way fun!

  3. Your bag is awesome! The fabric is so cheerful and it looks like a great size!

  4. I love all the instructions! I want to make one! I have a weekend party if you'd care to join in:


    Thanks, Bobi