Pleated Tote Bag Tutorial

Purses are like friends. . .
you can never have too many.

How are you on this last day of October,
my beautiful friends?
I trust each one of you are well.

Today I have fun sewing project just for you. . .
a cute pleated tote bag.
It's perfect for carrying your books,
knitting and crochet projects,
lunch, and a number of other things.
Shall we get started?

Supplies needed:
1/2-yard  each of two contrasting fabric
fusible fleece
and  of course sewing supplies

For the outer fabric cut 12 strips that are 3 x 9-inches
and for the inner fabric you will need 10 strips that are 3 x 9-inches.

You will use 6 outer strips on each side of the bag
and 5 strips of the inner fabric for each side.
Using a 3/8-inch seam allowance
sew the 6 outer and 5 inner strips together.
Alternate the colors as you go.

Once they are sewn together
fold the outer fabric into the center of the inner fabric.
If you make a notch at the two ends of each inner fabric
(right where my red butterfly pins are in the picture below)
this will help you keep things straight as you make the pleats.

This is what your pleats will look like
after making the folds.

Sew along the top edge with a 1/4-inch seam allowance
to hold the pleats down.
Press the pleats with a hot iron.

This is that the wrong side of the pleats
will look like.

Cut a piece of fabric that is the width of the bag
by 11-inches long.
The width should be 14.5-inches wide
so the piece of fabric will be 14.5 x 11-inches.
Place the pleats right side down on the fabric
and sew together.
Do the same with the other strip of pleats
and voila!
This is what you should have.
Press the seams down with an iron.

Cut a piece of fusible fleece that is 14 x 26.5-inches
and press onto the back side of the bag.

Fold the bag with right sides together
and sew both sides with a 3/8-inch seam allowance.

Push the corners outs and measure 1.5-inches.
Draw a line with a pencil and pin the corner.

Sew on the line and don't forget to back stitch at both ends.
Cut the corner just below the seam.

For your lining you will need a piece of fabric 
that is 14.5-inches wide and 27-inches long.
Fold the lining and sew along the two edges 
with a 3/8-inch seam allowance.
Leave a small opening on one side 
so that you can pull your bag right side out.
Make the boxed corners on the linging
the same way you did for the bag.

Now for the bag straps. . .
cut two pieces of fabric that are 14.5 x 3.5-inches.
With a hot iron, fold in the edges and press.
Then fold in half like so. . .

Stitch along both edges.
Press with an iron.

Pin the handles onto the inside of the bag.

Turn the lining right side out
and place inside the bag.
Pin the lining to the bag along the edge.

Sew along the top edge
and turn bag right side out 
by pulling it through the hole in the lining.

Close the hole by sewing it shut.

We're almost done. . .
your bag needs a special touch
so let's make a fabric flower.

You will need 6 fabric circles that are about 3-inches in size
and a strip of fabric that is 1.5-inches wide x 8-inches long.

Fold each circle in half. . .

Then fold it again.

Now sew a gathering stitch along the edge of each petal.

Once one petal is done 
simply add another to the length of thread.
When you have all 6 petals on the thread 
attach the first and last and knot together.

The strip of fabric will be used to create a rosette.
Simply knot the end of the strip
and twist the fabric around the knot.
Sew together
or apply a little bit of hot glue to the back side.

Use hot glue or fabric glue to apply the rosette to the flower.
You can also glue the flower onto the bag
as it will hold up well and stay put during washings.

Don't you just love seeing the inner fabric
peaking out?

Sew up some of these sweet pleated tote bags
for your family and friends.
They would be a wonderful birthday or Christmas gift.

*** A couple of notes worth mentioning ***
If you place the pleats on the bottom 
and add the strips of fabric to the top of the bag
(rather than the bottom)
the pleats will pop open more.

Also, I have made a few pleated bags without fusible fleece
and they turned out nicely
especially if you like a thinner-type bag.

Thanks for stopping by,
dear friends.
I am always blessed by your visits.
I have been missing in the blog community
because I've had my head buried in my craft room
getting ready for a craft show this coming weekend.
I look forward to catching up with many of you
and reading your lovely blogs.


Sylvia said...

Good luck on your Craft how, I love the tote bag.

Roosterhead Designs said...

Gorgeousness! The tote bag is amazing Stephanie~~ Simply beautiful.
You are so kind to take time to show us your instructions. I wish you many blessings in your craft show! Hugs, karen o

mamasmercantile said...

A wonderful creation, loved the fabric and the embellishment, its the little touches that make it so special. Wishing you a successful craft fair.

Debby Ray said...

Oh how lovely! I absolutely love the fabric choices and what a very cool design! Girl, you are so very talented!

Julie's Creative Lifestyle said...

Your tote bag you made is just beautiful. You are so talented with your sewing skills and make such wonderful and pretty things.
Hope you have a nice week and weekend.

Chris Lally said...

That's my bag!! It is even more beautiful in person, Stephanie!

Though your tutorial makes it look easy to construct, my sewing skills would never rival yours. I am thrilled to own an "Original by Stephanie."

Wishing you the best with your craft show! Hope you can persuade your hubby to take some photos.

Creations By Cindy said...

So very pretty! Girl, you are so good at this stuff! I admire you so much. I am just your basic sewer and so wish I could make things like you do. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

Marilyn McLeod @ Pink Paper Cottage said...

That is one darling bag!!! Love the pleats.. have never seen one like this with the pleats. And Thank You for the tutorial.. right when you are getting ready for your craft fair.... I know tutorials can be very time consumming! And the fabric flower.. just darling. Best of luck to you at your craft fair this weekend. They are fun but I get very stressed the week before! It's that time of year. I've debated whether to join our fairgrounds Christmas bazaar, but I think it just makes me too stressed out. sigh. Have a great time and I bet you have all sorts of goodies for your craft fair! Hugs.... Marilyn

Carla from The River said...

I love the bag and the quote you shared too. My husband always laughs about my love for purses.

Good luck at the sale.

fiona said...

What a lovely bag Stephanie :) the colours are perfect for this time of year.

My sewing machine is calling to me...

Hope the craft show goes well for you x

Debbie Harris said...

My dear, your tutorials always leave me in awe!
You make it all look and sound so simple, yet it just can't be!
Pretty combination and a beautiful job.

Looking forward to the craft fair. :)

Margie said...

Very nice, Stephanie! Tote bags are very useful for shopping, since more and more stores are now charging for plastic bags.

Vee said...

That is adorable! All the best with the Craft Fair!

Gina said...

So pretty, Stephanie! I love the flower!

krishna said...

Wow! so cute!

Kate Yetter said...

A beautiful tote bag, Stephanie. I love the fabrics that you used and the fabric rosette. So cute.

Sherida Stewart said...

This bag is so pretty....and the flower adds an adorable touch. Thanks for the instructions! May you have a great time at the craft fair!

hobbyloes said...

What a pretty bag, you made it so beautiful and it looks so simple on the pictures.
Especially the flower is amazingly beautiful!♥

Kerin said...

Thanks so much for the great tutorial!
I love the details and you've made such a nice post for anyone that wants to make a cute bag of their own.
Cute, cute, cute!!

Have a great day and best of luck at the craft show!!

~Smiles :)

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

Oh my, how cute is that pleated tote bag, my friend??!! You are so talented and so giving in sharing with us your tutorial.
Best of luck at the craft show!! xxoo

Conniecrafter said...

Beautiful bag, I use mine every week still. thanks for sharing how you did it.
I hope you have a great craft show this weekend!

Christine said...


It's really beautiful! Thank you for showing us step by step.
I'm thinking of Christmas gifts! So thanks!

Mrs. Laura Lane said...

Oh yes I pinned it! It's so pretty. Thanks for the tutorial. Now. To get to it and all the other things I pinned!

Glad I dropped by tonight.
Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

Kelly-Anne ♥ The Diary of a Country Girl said...

Oh, dear Stephanie... How lovely to stop by for a visit with you...it has simply been too long and for that I apologise. You see, I too have had my head buried in the craft room in preparation for a big craft show we have coming up in December...{{smiles}} Thinking of you and hoping that your market goes well! Your handmade items are perfectly gorgeous and oh! This is a stunning bag - I adore the colours and patterns! I am always so inspired by your creativity... Blessings and love to you!
P.S. I hope to your sweet email soon!

Marilyn @ MountainTopSpice said...

Oh my, another delightful tutorial, you have me itching to get busy with my sewing machine! Now is the time of year I can enjoy some sewing with gardening chores done for the year. I absolutely love the charming look this tote has with the pleats, and you make it sound so easy! As always, your tutorials are amazing! I am praying the craft fair was a blessing for you, and that you were able to bless and be blessed. I find interacting with other sweet ladies to be most rewarding at these events. Appreciate your dear friendship so very much! Love and hugs :)

AnnMarie aka Vintage Junkie aka NaNa said...

What a sweet bag! I hope your craft show went well. I am sure your pretties were well received!

Anne Payne said...

I think it's fabulous that you share with us how you make these GORGEOUS tote bags...BUT...I am HAPPY to pay you to make them for me!!! hahahaha

I love everything I have bought from you, and my sister is so happy with her purchases too!


Lowcarb team member said...

I love the bag and an excellent tutorial.
Hope the Craft show goes/went well.

All the best Jan

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Nice! I especially love the added touch of the flower.

Linda Walker said...

What a sweet bag! You did such a wonderful job pleating it! Those flowers make such cute brooches too! They can really embellish anything! I've even used them on wrapped gifts instead of bows!!!

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