DIY Canvas Tote You'll Totally Love

I get really excited when I find cute printed fabric and can’t help myself but to buy a yard or meter of each print, which is usually just enough to be able to turn into a bunch of different things. I don’t always have a project in mind at the time when I buy it but it’s nice to have on hand when the time is right, and a project presents itself. So, I just happen to have such an idea now and just happen to have a cute fabric print to use it for. See? Isn’t that handy when that happens? I’m going to make myself a canvas tote bag with a really easy pattern I came up with that is so easy to put together. Super fun and colorful, durable and versatile, and no one will believe that this was homemade when they ask you where you got your tote from. Love that! I got this tote whipped up in a couple hours, mind you I was figuring out as I went too, but all together a quick little sewing project.


  • 1-yard upholstery or home décor fabric
  • Matching color thread
  • Sewing pins
  • Straight edge
  • Rotary cutter or scissors
  • Sewing measuring tape
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron

Cut list:

  • Solid color - 20 ½” x 10 ½” (x2) base 

                               3 ½” x 28 ½” (x2) handles

  • Pattern color - 40 ½” x 8 ½” body

                         20 ½” x 36 ½” lining


The entire bag can be cut out of 1 yard of fabric however, I like a little contrast to the bag, so I cut the base of the bag out a solid color canvas fabric. Canvas fabric or upholstery fabric works best for this bag because of it’s durability and strength and will give you a long life during the use of the tote bag.


The pattern is simple because it’s simply a bunch of rectangles sewn together that form the bag. I cut all my pieces out with a straight edge and a rotary cutter for perfect cuts. If you don’t have a rotary cutter, make marks on the fabric with the help of a straight edge and cut out with scissors.


Starting with the base, place the 2 pieces right sides together. Then sew together the sides and the bottom using a ¼” seam allowance. You can leave it as is, but I like to finish it off by running the seams through the serger to give it more strength and prevent fraying.


From the bottom seam, not the bottom edge, mark up 2 ½” on both sides and draw a line connecting the 2 marks. Fold the side seam in towards the bottom seam lining them up together and pinning in place. Then pin along the drawn line forming a triangle. Sew all the way across the line and repeat on the other side.

Iron the seams down to make them nice and crisp and hold the shape of the bag base.


Next, sew the body of the bag by sewing the 2 sides together with a ¼” seam and right sides facing together. Iron the seam flat and turn right ride out.


Place the bag body into the bag base so the right sides are together and center the body seam to the base pinning in place. Pin the 2 edges together all the way around the bag and sew together with a ¼” seam. Remove pins and iron seams flat.

Then turn the bag right side out.


Prepare the bag lining by folding it in half, right sides together, and the 2 - 20 ½” sides alighted. Sew down each side with a ¼” seam.


Mark 2 ½” from the folded edge up on each side and draw a line connecting the marks. Pin and sew the corners the same as the bag base. Iron the seams flat and turn right side out.


Place the bag lining into the bag with the wrong sides facing each other and the side seams lining together. Fold the lining top edge and the bag top edge separately, ¼” and pin together all around the bag. 


Sew the 2 folded edges together with a 1/8” seam.


All that’s left to finish the bag is the handles. Those are made by folding the fabric in half lengthwise with right sides together and sewing down the length with a ¼” seam. Turn inside out and iron flat with the seam running down the center. Repeat with the second piece.


On each of the open ends, fold the edge in ¼” and sew a seam running the width of the handle with a 1/8” seam closing each end.


Sew each handle to the bag, one on the front and one on the back, 2” from the bag edge and 3” out from the bag center.


The finished bag will measure 20” wide x 13” high x 5 “deep, making this canvas tote the perfect size to carry a whole lot of everything and even wide enough to fit a laptop. Got to love that!

Cami TannerComment