Shopping Tote Bag | Free Pattern

Perhaps not the most exciting sewing project, but certainly a practical and worth while one!

I try to be environmentally but I’ll be honest, the real catalyst for this project was the introduction of the 5p charge for plastic carry bags!  It’s easy to see that is having an effect on people’s reliance on plastic bags, I see people juggling loose shopping in their arms on the way out of the shops (they obviously for forgot their ‘bag for life’ to!).  Whether it’s our annoyance and protest at having to pay for a bag or increasing the public’s awareness of the harm the cause it’s certainly working!

I’m rubbish at remembering to take my old carrier bags (I also slightly dislike being a walking advertisement for the stores) but putting the energy into making a much prettier ‘bag for life’ is certainly helping!

I used half a metre of ‘Street Life’ by Jessica Hogarth for Dashwood Studio plus some leftover fabric from a patchwork quilt (which I’ll post soon!).   This pattern has a little design feature that gives the bag a boxed bottom, so the bottom of the bag is flat, which makes it stands up (when full) and opens the bag up so you get more in it!

Shopping Tote Bag | Free Pattern | BonsaiHewes

There are a few ways to box the bottom of bags, So Sew Easy has a great video tutorial showing how to do it.  Personally I find cutting out the corners easier to do, but use whichever method works best for you.  (If you use the other ways shown in the video, don’t cut out the corners and used in this pattern!)

To make the bag:

  • Print out the pattern  and cut the fabric.

Shopping Tote Sewing Pattern Bonsai Hewes

  • Line up the top panel and main section the bag, right sides to together and sew.  Do the same for the bottom panel with cut out squares at the bottom. Repeat for both sides of the bag.

Shopping Tote Bag | Free Pattern | BonsaiHewes

  • Make the straps with left over fabric from the main panel.  Fold in half lengthways, right sides together and sew just the long edge.  The ends will close when sewed to the bag. Then pull the right way round (this can be fiddly so just be patient with it)
  • Hem the top of the bag by folding the edge down twice, about a cm metre each.
  • To attach the straps tuck the edges under the fold with straps hanging down towards the bottom of the bag and sew straight across.  Now fold the straps up, so the handles are the right way up, just be careful not to pull the hem line with them. Then sew a little box around the edges to hold them in place and make them nice and strong! I realise I forgot to mark on the pattern where to place the straps – measure 5cm from the centre fold on the pattern and line the inside edge of the strap.

Shopping Tote Bag | Free Pattern | BonsaiHewes

  • Now, to sew two sides of the bag together.  Places the pieces right sides together, making sure the all the edges line up.  Sew down each side and the across the bottom, but do not sew the two edges of the cut out squares.
  • Once the edges are sewn, pinch the corners of the cut out square and pull, the straight edges with come together, sew them together, trim any excess.

There you have it, your every own shopping make.  Just remember to take it with you – I’m trying to get in the habit of hanging the bag on the handle of the front door so I remember to take out the car with me!

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