How to Make a Tote Bag with Laura Ashley Fabric

Who doesn’t want a handmade tote bag, right?

This simple craft tutorial was taught to me by the lovely ladies at R&B Designs and organised by the awesome Laura Ashley team at The Manor (the Laura Ashley hotel in Elstree.)

For the first time I used the ‘french seam’ to create a neat bag and even tried out some decoupage with added embroidery. We were given a few hours to design and craft a tote bag and a few ladies never sewn before either, so it’s definitely a good sewing project for beginners!

What You Will Need:

  • Fabric – I used Laura Ashley fabrics
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle & threads (threads for embroidery as well as for sewing machine)
  • Scissors, markers and pens etc
  • Fabric glue or iron-on bond (I used a light bond iron-on adhesive)
laura-ashley-hotel

Laura Ashley Hotel in Elstree

randbdesigns-ladies

Amanda & Juliet from R&B Designs

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Laura Ashley’s beautiful fabric

How to Sew a Tote Bag – Step by Step Tutorial

Cut up your material. You will need two pieces of fabric, either identical or I used 1 flower patterned and one bold red. Cut these into rectangles measuring 25 inches by 27 inches.

Choose your design. Use online or get creative and think of the design that will go on the front. I decided to create a circle in the centre (which looks a bit like a Ying Yang) and added flower fabric using iron-on bonds and then embroidered it, adding ‘Once upon a time’ quote at the top. Note: it might be easier if you sketch something out beforehand using a pen and paper so that you know what it might end up looking like.

Tip: Remember to add your design the right way up. The longer length needs to be vertical. needle-and-thread-sewing-tote-bag-ideas decoupage-embroidery-fabric

Sew the rectangles. Once you’ve finished with your design it’s time to make the tote bag. Use a french seam to sew three sides of your rectangle, leaving your design the right way up and only one short side open. To french seam you will need to sew the fabric together with wrong sides together, then cut the seam in half leaving 0.5cm all around. Now turn it inside out and sew a cm around the edges again. Once you’ve done that, turn it inside out again and you will find that the seam is covered up. Neaten the edges if need be with scissors (if you have visible frayed bits coming out.)

tote-bag-embroidery

Neaten the top of your tote bag. Fold the top edge of your bag twice (1cm each fold) and sew. I used a fun stitch as it’s visible on the exterior.

Create two straps. Cut 2 pieces of fabric, measuring 3 inches by 27 inches. I chose material that matches my design. Then, lengthways fold 0.5 cm of both edges, then put the two together, doubling up the material and so you are left with a strap that’s an inch thick. Roughly tack or pin.

how-to-fold-a-strap

Now sew two straight lines on either edge (0.5cm from edge) of the strap’s length.

how-to-sew-a-strap-for-bag

To sew the straps onto the bag, simply fold twice (1cm each fold.) Take care to sew where your other seam is for a neat finish. I measured about 3 inches from the side of the tote bag to sew my straps for comfort. Tip: one strap for one side, and don’t forget to check that it isn’t twisted.

sewing-a-strap-to-a-bag

Once that’s done it’s time to enjoy your tote bag or gift it!

This sewing idea makes a perfect Christmas gift or birthday present 🙂

fairytale-tote-bag-design-sewing-idea how-to-sew-a-tote-bag

Will you be making your own tote bag?

And if you are, what design would you have at the front?

Many thanks to Laura Ashley for inviting me and offering more sewing ideas to keep my hands busy. #LAcrafting

Writer / Blogger on The Fairytale Pretty Picture. Currently working in the head office of a large retail company in London, UK and living in Essex.

15 Comments

  • September 30, 2016

    Ana SAV

    I cannot believe that is handmade.
    Looks so good.

    And what a brilliant post! Loving all the details and step by step instructions.

  • September 30, 2016

    Dean of Little Steps

    If I had the materials and the talent, I’d love to make my own tote bag too. Loving the Laura Ashley fabric 🙂

  • September 30, 2016

    Charlotte

    This is such a cute activity to do! And so handy with these 5p plastic bag charges 🙂

  • September 30, 2016

    Ayesha Farhad

    Oh my! the prints are gorgeous and the bag does not look hand made at all! What a beautiful piece! and it won’t even look out of place for quick trips to the mall!

  • September 30, 2016

    Rachel

    This is just amazing and it is a great tote bag x

  • October 1, 2016

    Natalia

    this is a lovely DIY, I’d love to try it! I think that bag can be useful to carry my folders to work x

  • Oh this looks lovely! What pretty fabric.
    Might give this one a go 🙂

  • October 1, 2016

    Laura H

    I made one of these at school when I was studying art and it’s surprisingly simple! These ones look much nicer than my attempt though 🙂

  • October 1, 2016

    Fashion and Style Police

    Wow this is so beautiful. Would love to try making mine.

  • October 1, 2016

    five little doves

    Wow this is fab! How talented you are! I love Laura Ashley fabrics but I cant sew to save my life, I’d definitely buy one of these if you were selling them!

  • October 1, 2016

    Amy Treasure

    Oh my goodness I LOVE it. How clever are you?

  • October 2, 2016

    MELANIE EDJOURIAN

    I love this, what a super idea. And very well done. I doubt i f I did it it would look this good 😉

  • October 3, 2016

    Ravi Roshan Jaiswal

    Hi Elina,

    Wonderful tutorial to make good looking and trendy tote bag. The color and design of this bag is quite lovely which makes it beautiful. It will be easy to design and make it by going through your making steps which is defined here. Thanks for promoting the home made things, people will feel comfortable doing such business at home.

    After learning, anyone can start the making a tote bag. Because women love this bag and have a suitable price in market. I have bookmarked this page to show women who are always interested in sewing. I have seen many women who love sewing by taking time. It is best for the creative mind people.

    Thanks.
    – Ravi.

  • October 3, 2016

    clairejustine

    What a great event, love how your bag turned out. I have never made one before as I would not be able to do a good job, your looks great 🙂

  • October 3, 2016

    Kara

    I love Laura Ashley prints, you have your own original bag there