Here is another fun tote tutorial for you. I love simple totes that have the added sophistication of some interesting fabric and/or hardware! In this case I dressed this tote up with some faux leather for the base and black leather handles. The best part is that the handles are actually upcycled belts snagged at a thrift store for $3.00 each!
The upper fabric is a home decor fabric and the interior is made from canvas which adds some nice structure to the tote.
Are you ready to learn how to make this? Let’s get started!
- 2 Identical Leather Belts (mine were about 1/2″ wide)
- 1/2 yard of home decor or canvas fabric for the top
- 1/2 yard leather or faux leather for the bottom
- 1 yard of canvas (for the lining)
- You will also need 4 snaps and a snap setter. You can pick up a great kit HERE.
STEP 1: Cut Your Fabric
Cut one piece of leather/faux leather 16″ x 16″ square
Cut two pieces of your exterior fabric to 16″ x 10″
Cut one piece of canvas 34″ x 16″ for the lining.
If you have a serger, take some time and serge the edges of the canvas pieces. Canvas frays easily, and this will prevent that from happening.
STEP 2: Assemble Bag Exterior
Assemble the leather piece in the center of the two exterior pieces and sew them together using a 1/2″ seam allowance as shows below.
Press the seam allowances open with a hot iron (you may need to use a pressing cloth to prevent the leather from sticking).
Turn over and top stitch 1/4 from each side of all seam lines.
Fold the exterior in half.
Make sure the seam lines match up exactly and pin in place.
Sew down both sides of the tote exterior – use 1/2″ seam allowance.
STEP 3: Box the Corners
Now you need to box out the corners. Keep the bag inside out and pinch a corner, laying it flat, creating a triangle with the seam line on the bottom. You can clip the fold line of the seam allowance to let it open and lay flat.
Measure 2″ from the tip and mark across the triangle. Sew along the line.
Clip the tip off leaving about 1/2″ allowance.
Repeat this for the other side.
Turn right side out and you now have the exterior finished!
STEP 4: Make the Lining
Grab your 34×16″ piece of canvas. Simply fold in half length-wise.
Sew up the sides as you did the exterior, ONLY this time leave about a 2″ gap on one of the sides for turning.
Box out the corners just as you did for the exterior.
STEP 5: Assemble the Tote
Place the exterior of the bag inside the lining, right sides facing each other.
Align the seams and pin around the top.
Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew around the top.
Pull the exterior through the hole in the lining to turn right side out.
Close up the opening using an invisible (ladder) stitch.
Push the lining back into the exterior and iron the top so it sits nice and flat. Top stitch using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Now you are ready for the handles!
STEP 6: Attach the Handles
Grab your belts.
Decide how long you want them, and cut to length (I cut mine to 25″). Remember you will want to cut from both ends to get the hardware off and if you are working with a solid belt, you will want to cut off the holes too.
Grab your snaps, snap setter and a punch tool. I used a leather punch (shown below), but you can use an eyelet punch, a wide needle or even a sharp scissor point to make your holes. Just make sure you don’t make them too big….you want the stem of the snap cap to snugly fit through the hole.
Punch a hole (centered) about 3/4″ from the edge of each end of the belts.
Punch holes 3″ out from the center of the bag and 1″ down from the top on both sides of the tote.
Place the snap cap through the belt, then through the tote and then through the snap back. Use the setting tool to set in place (a couple of swift hammer taps should do it).
Now repeat this for all strap ends. Remember to check to make sure your belts sit right, and are not twisted BEFORE you set the snap. You don’t want to set the snap only to find out your handle is twisted!