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How to Sew a Quilted Tote Bag that’s Perfect for Spring!

Learn how to turn a few pieces from a fabric panel into an adorable, feminine, quilted tote bag perfect for all your spring and summer adventures! Follow along with our easy-to-follow step-by-step sewing directions to create your tote bag!

woman holding blue and white tote bag outdoors

In the last few fabric collections I’ve designed, I’ve included a panel specifically designed to make tote bags.

Two previous collections were Halloween collections, and the panel intended to make a trick-or-treat bag.

I thought, why stop the fun at Halloween? Wouldn’t having a cute tote bag for any season be fun?  Especially Spring and Summer! 

About the Fabric on the Bag

My most recent fabric collection, Tulip Cottage, contains a panel printed on lightweight home dec fabric that is perfect for tote bags. 

The fabric is like a soft canvas. It’s not too heavy or too stiff—it’s a beautiful weight fabric.

The Tulip Cottage fabric panel includes four panels sized for a tote bag and four panels sized to turn into simple zip pouches.

The panel includes directions on creating the tote and zip bags, but I thought it would be fun to show you a few other things you can create with the panel.

Today, I’m sharing how to turn the pieces from the fabric panel into a quilted tote bag!

woman holding blue and white tote bag outdoors

Quilting the fabric gives the tote a bit of extra texture and makes the bag a bit heavier (in a good way).

A Few Things to Note

I chose to use fabric to bind the raw edges of my tote bag. If you don’t want to do that, add a lining using a method similar to this simple tote bag tutorial.

I just stitched the handles into the tote bag (making sure the ends of the handles were well finished off with fray check.

If you don’t like this look, you can add Leather handles instead using our “How to add leather handles to a tote bag” tutorial.

I carried this bag around with me all day. It had tour books, my heavy DSLR camera, and other daily necessities. The handles were sturdy enough to hold all of my stuff!

Tote Bag Supplies

In addition to basic sewing supplies, here are the things you will need to sew this tote bag.

SUPPLY LIST

  • One Tulip Cottage Panel for the bag front and bag straps – available in our shop
  • 3/8 yard fabric for lining (I used Boy Blue Sparkler)
  • 1/2 yard fabric (or one fat quarter) for the bag back; if you use a fat quarter for the back of the bag, note the direction of the fabric. The tote is 13” wide by 15” tall.  
  • You can also use another piece from the panel and have your bag double-sided!
  • 100% cotton batting,
  • 1 1/2 yards of 1” wide cotton webbing

Directions

woman holding blue and white tote bag outdoors

Fabric Panel Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Melissa Mortenson
Learn how to turn a few pieces from a fabric panel into an adorable, feminine, quilted tote bag perfect for all your spring and summer adventures! Follow along with our easy-to-follow step-by-step sewing directions to create your tote bag!
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Active Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes

supplies

  • 1 Tulip Cottage Panel for the bag front and bag straps
  • 3/8 yard fabric for lining I used Boy Blue Sparkler
  • 1/2 yard fabric or one fat quarter for the bag back; if you use a fat quarter for the back of the bag, note the direction of the fabric. The tote is 13” wide by 15” tall. You can also use another piece from the panel and have your bag double-sided!
  • 2 pieces Cotton batting at least 14” x 17”
  • 1 1/2 yards 1” wide cotton webbing
  • 1/4 yard fabric or one fat quarter For tote top binding

Instructions
 

Cutting Instructions

  • Cut out the piece you want from the Tulip Cottage Panel.
    Cut out the two pieces for the straps (if you're not using the panel, cut 2 pieces of fabric 3" x 24" for the bag straps)
    From Bag Back fabric cut: 1 piece 13” x 15”
    From Bag Lining fabric cut: 2 pieces 15” x 18”
    For Binding Inside: 3 pieces 2” x 16”
    From Quilt Batting cut: 2 pieces 14” x 17”
    From Top Binding fabric cut: 1 piece 2” x 28” (if you purchased a fat quarter for this binding, cut two pieces 2" x 14 1/2" and sew together along the 2" side)

Step One: Quilting

  • Make a quilt “sandwich” with the bag lining fabric, quilt batting, and tote bag front outside piece. All of the right sides of the fabric should be facing out.
    stack of fabric and quilt batting on blue cutting mat
  • Quilt the bag as desired. I quilted a grid on the diagonal 1” apart.
  • Repeat with the tote bag back outside piece.
  • Trim all of the quilted layers even.
    (reminder, the second piece in the photo is from the patchwork version of this tote bag, tutorial to be shared at a later date).
    two quilted pieces of fabric on blue cutting mat
  • Cut out a 1” square from the bottom corners of the front and back bag pieces.
    blue fabric on blue cutting mat
  • With the right sides facing, baste the bag front to the bag back, down the two sides, and across the bottom seam.

Step Two: Binding

  • Sew one cut 2” x 16” binding strips to the bag’s side seam, with the fabric’s right sides facing. Sew with a generous 1/4” seam allowance.
    blue fabric on blue cutting mat
  • Bring the binding around to the other side of the bag.
    blue fabric on blue cutting mat
  • Fold under the raw edge so that it’s flush with the side seam, and press.
    blue fabric on blue cutting mat
  • Fold this piece again so the folded edge covers the bag’s seam.
    blue fabric on blue cutting mat
  • Use a bit of glue to secure in place.
  • Sew along the folded edge.
  • Repeat for the other side seam and bag bottom.
    blue fabric on blue cutting mat

Step Three: Straps

  • Cut two pieces of 1” webbing the same length as the cut strap pieces from the panel.
  • Sew the webbing to the strap fabric piece with a 1/4” seam allowance, as shown in the photo.
    fabric under sewing machine foot
  • Bring the fabric around to the other side of the strap and turn the fabric under 1/4” on the raw edge.
    bag strap and fabric on white cutting mat
  • Pull the folded edge of the strap and secure it with binding clips and glue.
    bag strap and fabric on white cutting mat
  • Sew on the sewing machine along the folded edge on both sides of the strap.
    fabric under sewing machine foot
  • Finish the ends of the strap with fray check and zig-zag the ends several times to prevent from fraying.

Step Four: Finishing

  • Pinch the bottom corners of the bag so the side seams are on top of each other. Sew in place with a 1/4” seam allowance.
    blue fabric on blue cutting mat
  • Bind the seam edges the same way you did in Step 2. This time, turn under the binding’s raw edges to create a clean, finished edge.
  • Using the bag top binding fabric, bind the top of the bag using the same method in step two.
  • Start the binding on the back of the bag, bring it around to the front, and then return to where you started.  Mark the overlap point.
  • Cut the binding 1/2” on EACH end longer than the binding point, and sew together with 1/2” seam allowance.  Finish sewing the binding to the top of the bag.
  • Turn under the raw edge 1/4” and press. Bring it inside the bag and secure it in place.  Sew in place on the outside of the bag, making sure to catch the fold in the binding as you go.
  • Pin the straps to the inside of the bag 2” from each side seam.
  • Stitch in place close to the bound edge. Sew over this seam 3 or 4 times to secure it in place.
  • Give the bag a good press, remove any stray threads and enjoy!

Notes

Helpful Resources
If you’re new to quilting or bag making the following articles on our site may be helpful to you as you construct your bag.
How to Machine Quilt on a Home Sewing Machine
How to Add Leather Straps to a Tote Bag
Bag Making Tips & Tricks
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Love this tutorial? Get the behind the scenes on Instagram

Last summer, I created this tote bag to “tote” all my necessities while we toured the Rhode Island mansions.  A fancy place felt like it needed a ‘fancy” tote bag!

woman holding blue and white tote bag outdoors

I have used this pattern to create two bags—one with the panel and a patchwork one with fabric squares.

To keep things from getting confusing, I’m sharing the directions for the quilted tote today and will share the directions for the patchwork version next week.

woman in blue and white dress holding bag

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! If you create a tote bag using our pattern, let us know! Tag me on Instagram, @polkadotchair

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