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Sew a Beach Tote Bag

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Sew a Beach Tote Bag, Craft Project

This fabric was purchased from Ikea's sale last year. I didn't think of making a bag out of it initially although I was thinking of a design for a large beach tote. Browsing through fashion magazines, I notice how often stripes and beach/resort accessories always seem to go together. Why not a red stripe beach tote then?


I leave the dimensions and sizes of the pieces to creative initiatives. At times you may want to make a bigger tote for an adult friend or a smaller bag for a child.

Furnishing fabric for the bag
Lining fabric inner layers (I use cotton)
Batting (same size as the bag)

Snap button for the flap pocket in front

Zip for opening (This is optional. I made a without zip version in another project too!)

How I Sew the Bag:

Step 1:

Sew Bag Step 1

Cut out the base piece comprising the top, batting and lining layers. You will need a set of two for the front and back. It helps to round off the lower corners for the placement of the darts to make sewing easier. The deeper the darts, the bigger is the bottom of the bag.

Step 2:

Sew Bag Step 2

Sew the bag handles with the same fabric as the bag and include batting inside in a tube like manner. Topstitch lengthwise on the edges of the bag handles. If you are using striped fabric like I did for sewing this bag, you may want to vary the directions of the prints for contrast.

Step 3:

Sew Bag Step 3

Cut out four tiny patches; two for each front and back of the bag. Use these to attach and cover the raw edges of the bag handles. The patches should have a seam allowance of about 5 mm. Pin these on the bag with the bag handle slotted in. The idea distance from the bag opening to the top edge of each patch is about 25 mm (1”).

Step 4:

Sew Bag Step 4

Cut a rectangle piece for the pocket. You do not need lining for strong furnishing fabric such as the one I use for sewing this bag. However, provide seam allowances of about 30 mm for the opening and 15 mm for the sides.

Fold the seam allowance for the opening inward (triple folded) and flatten it with ironing such that the raw edges is hidden from the inside of the pocket as well. Topstitch lengthwise close to the edge once. Add another length of topstitching about 10 mm from the first to lock in and cover the raw edges of the opening. Attach one half of the snap button. Fold and iron the seam allowances for the sides inward, pin the pocket onto the front of the bag, topstitch lengthwise twice over the sides (refer to picture). Just make sure you don't sew over the pocket opening.

For the flap section, cut two triangular pieces with an extended rectangular section on the lower half. The picture gives a rough idea how these are shaped. Provide 15 mm seam allowances on the sides and iron these in place. Sew the flap pieces wrong sides together with topstitching just like what you will do for the pocket. Align the other half of the snap button with the one half that is already on the pocket. Attach the other half of the snap button on the flap.Pin and sew the lower edge of the flap to the bag at about 5 mm above the pocket opening.

Step 5:

Sew Bag Step 5

Sew the darts. Do these separately for the lining pieces and the outer layer. I have the batting fused to the outer piece before I sew the darts. There may be a better way but this works for me. Sew the bag right sides together and do the same for the lining. Turn the lining inside out and place the bag (still with the wrong sides out) inside the lining just like it's shown in the picture. Adjust for alignment and pin the two layers together.

Step 6:

Sew Bag Step 6

To cover the bag opening, sew a length of bias tape (cut from the same fabric) over it.

Step 7:

Sew Bag Step 7

This step will be optional if you prefer to leave the opening as it is. If I carry large items like beach mat or drinking bottle, I will omit the zip altogether.

Hand stitch a zip over the opening from the inside. Turn it inside out through the zip opening to complete the sewing project.

Happy sewing

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