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Make An All-In-One Gift and Tote Bag

Updated on June 16, 2017
RTalloni profile image

Robertatalloni means creativity. Whether in writing or in more typical art forms artistry (and a bit of fun) must be part of the work.

Make a Reversible Tote Bag to use as a Gift Bag and that can be used as a Handbag.  You'll have a Gift on a Gift!
Make a Reversible Tote Bag to use as a Gift Bag and that can be used as a Handbag. You'll have a Gift on a Gift! | Source

Got Leftover Fabric? Make a Gift or Tote Bag!


Making a tote bag then filling it with a special gift of home made treats, perfume, or other items is to give a double gift.

As well, the pleasure of designing and creating a tote bag for your own use is a twofold reason to begin planning this project today!

You can make reusable grocery bags as well as gift bags following this tutorial.

Think Outside the Box as You Plan to Make Your Gift or Tote Bag Project


This hub explains how I made my bag but the purpose of my posting this is to show you how to design your own tote bag to use as a gift bag. Do keep in mind that you can piece fabric together to make your own exclusive, multi-purpose bag of any size.

Think through the patterns and solids that you have on hand, as well as the colors and textures. Decide what size you want to make, or perhaps can make is better phrasing since the amount of leftover fabric you have will help you determine the size of your bag. Then go to work following the basic instructions below.


Design a happy project and make a bag out of the extra fabric you have stored away:

• Use simple sewing techniques to make a tote bag that will replace a disposable gift bag.

• Create a pretty tote bag to do your shopping with.

• Make sturdy reusable grocery bags that are multi-purpose.

• Mix and match bright fabric scraps to create a uniquely designed bag for someone special.

• Get pretty results by planning out your creation and piecing fabric to make the components that your bag requires.

Don't you think this all in one gift and tote bag is a great recipe for happiness?


As you consider making this project, be sure to envision how to design some for various holidays and occasions!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Shell Fabric Pieced TogetherLining Fabric Cut To Size
Shell Fabric Pieced Together
Shell Fabric Pieced Together | Source
Lining Fabric Cut To Size
Lining Fabric Cut To Size | Source

Let’s Get Started on a Gift Bag and/or Tote Bag Project!


As I mentioned, the amount of fabric scraps you have determines the size bag you can make. Select your fabrics and piece them together to make a rectangle. The rectangle shown in the photo is 12" by 22".

You will need one of these rectangles cut out of the bag's shell fabric and one cut out of the fabric you choose for the lining of the bag. I did not piece my lining fabric, but it would be fine to do so.


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sides of the Handles Have Opposite FabricsPulling One End ThroughPinning 3" From Each EndQuilted Effect On Handles
Sides of the Handles Have Opposite Fabrics
Sides of the Handles Have Opposite Fabrics | Source
Pulling One End Through
Pulling One End Through | Source
Pinning 3" From Each End
Pinning 3" From Each End | Source
Quilted Effect On Handles
Quilted Effect On Handles | Source


The handles for my bag were cut at 2" by 14". I used both the shell fabric and lining fabric to make these, but handles can be made in various ways. The photos have captions that I hope will be helpful.

These were sewn right sides together with a 1/4" seam, leaving the ends open. Pulling one end through I then pressed the seams flat, putting the seams in the middle and pressing a folded edge on each side.

I folded the handles in half at the center, pinning them at 3" from the ends, leaving the remaining 3" open. Sewing the length between the pins several times gave the handles a more substantial, quilted feel and appearance. I set the handles aside at this point.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Photo A Shows Fabrics Pieced Together For The Large PocketPhoto B Shows Green Rectangle Folded And Sewn To Large PocketPhoto C Shows The Lining For The Large Pocket Photo D Shows Layered Pockets Positioned And Pinned, Ready For Sewing.
Photo A Shows Fabrics Pieced Together For The Large Pocket
Photo A Shows Fabrics Pieced Together For The Large Pocket | Source
Photo B Shows Green Rectangle Folded And Sewn To Large Pocket
Photo B Shows Green Rectangle Folded And Sewn To Large Pocket | Source
Photo C Shows The Lining For The Large Pocket
Photo C Shows The Lining For The Large Pocket | Source
Photo D Shows Layered Pockets Positioned And Pinned, Ready For Sewing.
Photo D Shows Layered Pockets Positioned And Pinned, Ready For Sewing. | Source


Wanting to make layered pockets for my bag I first pieced contrasting fabrics to make a 6" by 8" rectangle, shown in Photo A.

Next I cut a single piece of green fabric into a 4" by 10" rectangle, then folded this rectangle in half, right sides together, and sewed a 1/4" seam on each side. After turning and carefully pressing the seams I top stitiched the green pocket.

Centering it and lining up the bottom edges to pin it to the larger pocket, I sewed the green pocket sides to the larger pocket--see Photo B.

I cut a white lining the same size as the large pocket and sewed it to the large pocket right sides together with a 1/4" seam, leaving an opening in the bottom so the unit of layered pockets could be turned. After turning and pressing the unit, I top-stitched the top edge, shown in Photo C.

Positioning the layered pockets about 2" from the top of the tote bag's lining, I laid it backwards, pinned it, and sewed a 12" seam across the bottom. Folding the unit of pockets back up I pressed the seam and pinned it in place.

Photo D is of the layered pocket unit folded up, pinned in place, ready to be sewn down one side, across the bottom, and up the other side.

You may wish to design other pocket shapes and/or make more or less than I chose to make for this bag.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Photo E Showing Bottom Of Bag Folded Flat Against Side SeamPhoto F Showing Triangle Folded UpPhoto G Showing Both Corners Folded Flat Against Side Seams With Triangles Folded UpPhoto H Showing How To Mark Sewing LinePhoto I Showing How To Sew Wide End Of Triangle.
Photo E Showing Bottom Of Bag Folded Flat Against Side Seam
Photo E Showing Bottom Of Bag Folded Flat Against Side Seam | Source
Photo F Showing Triangle Folded Up
Photo F Showing Triangle Folded Up | Source
Photo G Showing Both Corners Folded Flat Against Side Seams With Triangles Folded Up
Photo G Showing Both Corners Folded Flat Against Side Seams With Triangles Folded Up | Source
Photo H Showing How To Mark Sewing Line
Photo H Showing How To Mark Sewing Line | Source
Photo I Showing How To Sew Wide End Of Triangle.
Photo I Showing How To Sew Wide End Of Triangle. | Source


The next step was to fold the pieced rectangle for the shell in half, right sides together, and sew up the side seams.

Then I squared off the bottom of the bag by sewing a triangle across each corner. Flattening the bottom of the bag onto the side seam and folding approximately 1 1/2" up from the point, then marking at equal distances for sewing. See Photos E, F, G, H, and I to give you a better idea of this process.


GIft Tote Bag Lining With Side Seams And Bottom Triangles
GIft Tote Bag Lining With Side Seams And Bottom Triangles | Source


After repeating the same process for sewing the side seams and triangles, the lining was ready for inserting into the shell.

By turning the triangle corners of the shell and lining up each side I was able to use a quilting stitch called "stitch in a ditch" to tack the corners in place on the side seams. Another option would be to trim the triangle off at 1/4" and finish the cut edges, but I like the substance that the turned up corners give the bag, especially when I use lightweight fabric to make tote bags.


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tote Bag Handles Pinned To ShellSewing Handles To Shell
Tote Bag Handles Pinned To Shell
Tote Bag Handles Pinned To Shell | Source
Sewing Handles To Shell
Sewing Handles To Shell | Source


Pinning the handle ends at 2 1/2" from the shell's side seams, making sure the handles were not twisted, I stitched the handles in place along the top edge.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sliding Lining Into Gift Bag ShellTop Edge Pinned Pulling Lining And Handles Through Opening
Sliding Lining Into Gift Bag Shell
Sliding Lining Into Gift Bag Shell | Source
Top Edge Pinned
Top Edge Pinned | Source
Pulling Lining And Handles Through Opening
Pulling Lining And Handles Through Opening | Source


Keeping handles tucked in, I slid the lining into the shell with right sides together.

Matching the side seams of shell and lining, the top edge was pinned with a 3 1/2" opening marked on one side. Beginning at the first mark and sewing around to the second mark I backed stitched over the handles to give them extra strength.

Then, I gently pulled the lining out through the opening, along with the handles, being careful not to unduly stretch the cut fabric at the opening.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Lining Pulled Through Opening, Gift Tote Bag Ready To Finish!Opening Pinned Closed.Top Edge Top StitchedIt's A Sharp Bag Inside And Out
Lining Pulled Through Opening, Gift Tote Bag Ready To Finish!
Lining Pulled Through Opening, Gift Tote Bag Ready To Finish! | Source
Opening Pinned Closed.
Opening Pinned Closed. | Source
Top Edge Top Stitched
Top Edge Top Stitched | Source
It's A Sharp Bag Inside And Out
It's A Sharp Bag Inside And Out | Source


With opening edges carefully folded in I carefully pressed the top of the bag and pinned it for top stitching.

Once it was top stitched the bag had a nice crisp, finished look.


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Embellished Gift Tote Bag Is Ready To Give To My Second GrandaughterThis Bag's Pockets Will Hold TreatsAnd It Will Carry Special Gifts
Embellished Gift Tote Bag Is Ready To Give To My Second Grandaughter
Embellished Gift Tote Bag Is Ready To Give To My Second Grandaughter | Source
This Bag's Pockets Will Hold Treats
This Bag's Pockets Will Hold Treats | Source
And It Will Carry Special Gifts
And It Will Carry Special Gifts | Source


All this tote bag needed was a flower to polish it off. I chose to use some of the same fabric I pieced together to make mine, but a completely different color and pattern of cloth could be used.

I hope my second granddaughter enjoys carrying her little girl stuff and such in this gift bag for a long time.



Do you think the 2 in 1 gift/tote bags are a smart project?

See results
Gift Tote Bag Is Crisp, Finished, And Ready For My Second Granddaughter!
Gift Tote Bag Is Crisp, Finished, And Ready For My Second Granddaughter! | Source

Six Tips to Remember when Making Your Gift/Tote Bag Project:


• All measurements are approximate.

• For extra strength, back tack all seams that cross other seams, as well as seams that cross edges of layered fabric.

• Top stitch seams of pieced fabrics.

• Use a seam sealing product like FrayCheck to strengthen points of stress that would normally cause wear and tear on a bag. Be sure to follow manufacturers instructions.

• There are links below that have information on making a variety of fabric flowers, handles, pockets, and other details on making tote bags.

• Search the web for methods of making embellishments for your bags.

• Sturdy fabrics are best for reusable grocery bags.


Make A Drawstring Bag

Check Out These Other Projects if You Enjoy Creative Activities:


• Painting baby bibs could become an addictive project idea when it's this much fun.

• Two denim handbag projects #1 denim handbag and #2 made by repurposing denim skirts.

• Painting a dresser is an amazing creative project you can enjoy.

• This crocheted edge baby blanket makes a lovely gift, and it's just the right size for fitting into the all-in-one gift and tote bag.

• An easy paper craft project for making place cards for special meals.

No need to buy more fabric, upcycle!


Make A Tote Bag Out Of A Tank Top

Weave A Tote or Gift Bag

How Will You Use Your Gift and Tote Bag?

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    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      peachpurple:

      Thank you. I have considered that and if/when I do it I've already picked out the site I would use. You might like to check out my hub on Zibbet for buying and selling handmade art and craft items.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      You know, have you try sellibg your craft online? You are talented

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Mommy Needs a Nap:

      Thanks kindly! The ready made bags can be quite inexpensive for a large group, but making them out of pretty fabrics so they can have more than one use is a great deal, too. :) Planning now for next year would allow you to work with other ladies to get them ready and waiting for inserting next year's conference materials. So appreciate your visit and comment!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      lindacee:

      This really is a fabulous way to use up those extras. I'm making bags in all my spare time right now, looking to design the perfect one. :)

      Thanks so much for your feedback on this project.

    • Mommy Needs a Nap profile image

      Michelle Clairday 4 years ago from Arkansas

      Great idea. We used ready made tote bags as gift bags for our church's women's conference last week. I never would have thought of making our own.

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      What a great idea for those of us with scrap fabric lying around. Your finished tote bag is beautiful! I love sewing projects like this--easy to follow and fun. Voted up, awesome and shared. :)

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      beingwell:

      How kind--thank you! So appreciate your visit and generous feedback on this tote bag tutorial.

    • beingwell profile image

      beingwell 4 years ago from Bangkok

      Very useful, indeed. It's just ingenious. Thanks for this brilliant idea. Voted useful and shared to my hub followers.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      vespawoolf:

      Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed this project hub! I hope your friend enjoys creating her own bags. It is an easy way to use up extra fabrics or to repurpose an old garment made of unique fabric.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      Your instructions are so clear, I'm sure I could follow them if I knew how to sew! I'm going to pass this along to my friend and neighbor who sews. The bag is adorable and what a nice gift idea, too. Voted up!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      bettybarnesb:

      Thank you very much! I greatly appreciate your visit and feedback on this project.

    • bettybarnesb profile image

      bettybarnesb 4 years ago from Bartlett, TN

      Something to think about. You are very creative. Enjoyed the article very much. Thank you for sharing.

      be blessed....

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Nicole S:

      Thank you! They are quite sturdy and could be design to be used for a wide variety of needs--gift bags to groceries, what more could we ask of a bag? :)

    • Nicole S profile image

      Nicole S Hanson 5 years ago from Minnesota

      So creative! These are bags that will never get thrown away. Props!!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks very much. I'm glad to know you enjoyed seeing this gift/tote bag. The happy colors helped make it a fun project. :)

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      Great looking bag. Love the colors you used. Voted up

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      PenHitsTheFan:

      I'm glad to hear that you like this little bag--thank you.

      I've made larger ones out of sturdier fabrics such as denim and twill. Smaller/tighter stitches should hold them together very well with some serious grocery weight in them.

      You could design your own personalized set in so many fun ways!

      Thanks much for stopping in. Hope you let us see your project in hub!

    • PenHitsTheFan profile image

      Amy L. Tarr 5 years ago from Home

      Oh, that is so adorable. I may try it to replace the generic looking cloth bags I go grocery shopping with. Have you tried that? If so, how would you recommend strengthening the bottom so it doesn't break?

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      cloverleaffarm:

      So glad you enjoyed seeing this gift/tote bag how to! Hope it will be helpful to you when you start sewing again. :) I'm wanting to get back to my machine, as well, and am looking forward to designing new bags this summer.

      I appreciate your visit and input very much!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      bizwin:

      Thanks kindly for your visit and your comment on this tote bag! I'm planning to make more this summer, and am hoping to design some unique ones to share with everyone.

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Great hub. Came across it, and just had to read it. I love sewing, and as of late, don't do it enough. I spent one fall making handbags, and totes for everyone on my Christmas list. They loved them. You now have made want to get back to my machine.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • bizwin profile image

      Christabel Evans 5 years ago from England, UK

      Great hub on how to recycle and to make this bag. Really useful information.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Londonlady:

      Why thank you, both for the compliment and the vote. :)

    • Londonlady profile image

      Laura Writes 5 years ago

      This actually looks really nicely put together! Voted UP :)

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      art purses:

      So glad you liked the looks of this happy bag. It is very satisfying to make the gift bag for a gift so that it is a tote bag--a gift in itself!

      Appreciate your stopping by--your name is calling me to check out your work! :)

    • art purses profile image

      art purses 5 years ago

      What a friendly tote! I love the colors and the idea behind it. Nothing beats creating something you love and sharing it with those you love. Beautiful.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks Ashlea B! You might like to skip the piecing when you try your first one, and there are even simpler bags to make for your first project. No matter what, you can do it, and the girls would love the learning and knowing of it all. A really super-fast easy bag is shown in the second video. It might get your girls interest up and spur you all onward. :)

      So appreciate that you stopped in with your comments.

    • profile image

      Ashlea B 6 years ago

      What a cute bag and craft! I am not much for sewing, but I really wish I could sew with ease. Maybe someday I'll try to tackle this project. I could see this being a neat thing to make with my girls when they get older.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Hi tebo, thanks kindly! Hope you enjoy making your bag--it would be lovely see your project when you get it done! Appreciate that you came by and left a note.

    • tebo profile image

      tebo 6 years ago from New Zealand

      This bag looks great and it is a very good idea for a gift/tote bag. I must have a go at it. I do have a few scraps too that I could put to good use. Thanks for idea.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Movie Master:

      So glad you find this project interesting! Hope we can see your bag when you finish it. :)

      Thanks bunches for coming by and for commenting!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      carriethomson:

      Thank you! Yes, you are right, the bag is easily made to be reversible. I did not do so with this one because of the fluffy, ruffly flower on the outside and the large pockets on the inside. I would use flat decorations and smaller pockets if I were making a reversible one. So appreciate your visit and input!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Nice easy instructions, I love this bag and the flower is a nice touch.

      I keep all my left over fabric and am always looking for new ideas to use it.

      Many thanks for sharing this I have bookmarked it and am looking forward to making.

      Voting up and useful.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      kerlynb:

      This type of bag does indeed have lots of potential. They make great gifts all by themselves and make great gift bags for special occasions. I'm looking forward to making some out of Christmas fabric.

      Thanks kindly for stopping in with your comments. :)

    • carriethomson profile image

      carriethomson 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      lovely bag, and the finishing seems to be great, the lining fabric is also nice.. can use it as a reversible bag with that kind of finishing and fabric i guess.

      carrie

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Phil Plasma:

      Well, here's how it works. Go buy fabric to make a dress. When you are done with the dress you will have leftover fabric. Do this a couple of times. Then you will have enough left over fabric to design a tote.

      So appreciate your visit. :) Thanks kindly for the comments!

    • kerlynb profile image

      kerlynb 6 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      Nifty! We can make smaller or bigger versions of this bag depending on the occasion. We can give it out as favors to girlfriends or young girls. Thanks for this step-by-step guide RTalloni.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      marellen:

      Thanks kindly for your visit and input!

      I hope to see some of your bags in a hub...let me know if you write one so I can link it to this hub. BTW, I also have visions of tote bags dancing in my head... :)

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      A.CreativeThinker:

      Yes it is! I used leftover fabric, but am thinking through some recycled vintage clothing designs. How I wish I had all my old "shifts" from high school in the 60s! ;-)

      Thanks bunches for visiting and commenting.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      randomcreative:

      You are welcome. Thank you for dropping by with your comments!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      ChristineMargaret:

      So glad you enjoyed seeing the project.

      Thanks much for stopping in!

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 6 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Great hub, now if only I had some spare fabric. Voted-up and useful.

    • profile image

      marellen 6 years ago

      I love everything about this project. I bookmarked it so I can refer back to it. I see Xmas gifts.......Thanks for sharing....Voted Up..

    • profile image

      A.CreativeThinker 6 years ago

      This is a great hub for leftover materials or to recycle

      old clothes. I love the pattern. Thanks for sharing! :)

      Regards

      A.CreativeThinker

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Nice! Thanks for including so many pictures with your instructions.

    • profile image

      ChristineMargaret 6 years ago

      I love your bag. It's a great project and nice choice of fabrics, too.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      pedrn44: You are welcome--thank you for visiting this hub. Let me know if you do make a bag!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      So glad you enjoyed seeing it, Phoebe Pike.

      Appreciate that you stopped in!

    • pedrn44 profile image

      Sandi 6 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

      Thanks for all the great step by step directions. Sounds like a fun project! Great hub.

    • profile image

      Phoebe Pike 6 years ago

      I love these kind of projects! They are always so much fun.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      iZeko: Thanks kindly for stopping in! I liked that the tank tote had a built-in pocket when it was finished. Hope you can enjoy using a tote of your own sometime.

    • iZeko profile image

      iZeko 6 years ago

      Reusable gift bag is a great idea! This one turned out beautiful. I also like the tank top bag idea. Nice job!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks much, cardelean. I hope it will be helpful to you.

      I have a party favor project in mind that I want to do a hub on sometime... :)

      Appreciate that you are the first visitor to this hub!

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      Wow, this is a great step by step guide complete with great photos. I am definitely bookmarking this one for future use. I can see a smaller version of this being used for favors for guests at a birthday party!