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Molly's Sketchbook: Everyday Tote

I’m someone who needs a large bag. I don’t understand how people can carry dainty little purses! Where do they put their stuff? My ideal bag needs room for a whole lot of life’s supplies: a sweater, wallet, book, notebook, cell phone, and laptop, plus some baby toys, my current craft project and tonight’s dinner. It also needs to be sturdy, easy to carry, and good looking! The Everyday Tote fits the bill… and all of my things as well!

I’ve made many bags for the Purl Bee, but I feel like they’ve all been leading me to this Everyday Tote. Using techniques honed on my 40 Minute Tote and Inside Out Bag, I think I’ve finally created my ideal carryall! Since it’s made from Cotton Duck, this bag is strong and utilitarian but also attractive with accents of Neon Bias Tape and yarn dyed fabric.

The Everyday Tote is a blast to sew. It uses lots of different sewing techniques so it’s never boring, and the result is so refined and professional looking, no one will believe you made it yourself!  Best of all, the finished bag is totally modern and totally functional. You really are going to want to carry it everyday!

The Materials

To make one bag you’ll need a Pink or Yellow Everyday Tote Kit containing…

The Pattern

Note: If you have never sewn with bias tape before you might want to review our recent Inside Out Bag story, which gives more step by step instructions and helpful tips!

Finished Measurements

20 inches wide X 12 inches tall X 6 inches deep


From the Bag Fabric:

Two 22-inch by 17-inch rectangles. These are the Bag Panels.

One 7-inch square. This is the Pocket Back.

From the Accent Fabric:

Two 22-inch by 10-inch rectangles. These are the Accent Panels.

One 7-inch by 5-inch rectangle. This is the Pocket Front.

From the Webbing:

Two 24-inch lengths. These are the Handles 

Sewing the Pocket

Cut a 7-inch length of bias tape and pin it over a 7-inch side of the Pocket Front. Using the Neon Thread, edge stitch it on. This bias tape edge is now the top of the Pocket Front.

Place the Pocket Front on top of the Pocket Back, right sides facing up and lining up the bottom raw edges. The top of the Pocket Front will be 2 inches below the top of the Pocket Back.

Cut a 22-inch length of bias tape and pin it around the sides and bottom of the two pocket pieces. To create neat mitered corners, fold the bias tape at the end of the edge in a 45-degree angle, as shown above.

Then fold the bias tape up the next side, maintaining the 45-degree angle and pinning the tape in place. Make sure the backside looks the same.

Using the Neon Thread, edge stitch the tape on all three sides, thus sewing together the Pocket Front and Pocket Back. Make sure you catch both sides of the bias tape.

This is now the Pocket.

Sewing the Bag Panels

Pin the ends of the Handles to the right side of a 22-inch edge of each Bag Panel, 7 inches from each corner. Make sure the Handles are not twisted.

Sew the handles in place with a 3/8-inch seam allowance using either the Bag Thread or the Neon Thread.

The edges with the Handles are now the tops of the Bag Panels.

Cut two 22-inch lengths of the bias tape and pin them to the top edges of the Bag Panels thus encasing the ends of the Handles. Using the Neon Thread edge stitch the bias tape in place.

Fold and pin down the top edges of the Bag Panels 1 inch towards the wrong side so that the Handles flip up and away from the Bag Panels. 

With the wrong side of one Bag Panel facing up, insert the Pocket, right side up, inside the fold between the Handle’s ends, as shown above. Pin the pocket in place.

Using the Bag Thread, sew down the fold with two seams, the first 1/4 inch from the top folded edge and the second directly above the bias tape, thus sewing the pocket in place.

Cut a 22-inch length of bias tape. Slice it in half lengthwise.

Align the raw edge of bias tape half to a 22-inch edge of Accent Panel. Pin it in place and using the Bag Thread, sew the tape to the Accent Panel with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Repeat with the other bias tape half and Accent Panel.

Fold this seam 1/4 inch towards the back side of Accent Panel and press the panel flat. There should be a small ridge of neon bias tape peeking out the top of the Accent Panel.

Lining up their bottom and side edges, pin the top edge of the Accent Panel to a Bag Panel, right sides facing up. Make sure to not pin the pocket. Repeat with the other set of Panel.

Using the Neon Thread sew each Accent Panel into place along the top pinned edge. Sew just along the bias tape edge, being careful not to sew onto the Accent or Bag Fabric. Again, make sure to not sew the pocket.

Sewing Together

Pin the Bag Panels right sides together along their three raw edges.

Using the Bag Thread, sew the Bag Panels together along the pinned sides with a 3/8-inch seam allowance.

To make the boxed bottom of the bag pull the two Bag Panels apart so that the bottom seam and a side seam are directly on top of each other and the corner forms a 90-degree angle. Press the corner in this orientation.

Mark a line perpendicular to the two seams, 3 inches from the corner. This line will be 6 inches across. It is the Sew Line.

Mark a second line 3/8-inch above the Sew Line.

Cut off the corner of the bag along this second line.

Repeat for the other bottom corner of the bag.

When both corners are cut, open the bag and press it flat once again. It will have two notches taken out of the bottom corners, as shown above.

Edge stitch bias tape onto the sides and bottom of the bag, leaving the notched sections alone. Tuck the raw end of the bias tape inside itself at the top corners before you sew it down.

Press and pin the corners back into their boxed orientation, with the side and bottom seams matching up. Face the bias tape on the bottom in the opposite direction of the bias tape on the side, to reduce the bulk of these seams.

Using the Bag Thread, sew the pinned sides together along the Sew Line, giving you a 3/8-inch seam allowance.

Edge stitch bias tape onto the boxed corner seam, tucking the beginning and end of the tape into itself to hide the raw ends.

You're all done sewing!

Turn the bag right side out, press it and you're ready to go!

Reader Comments (14)

This is BEAUTIFUL...I want one ! Mother's Day is coming up fast......
May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJosie
i really like that bag. can't have enough totes as far as i am concerned. i have two that i carry around daily!
but i really don't understand the obsession with neon everywhere lately. am i showing my age?
May 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbritt
So cute. Looked for the navy and black and didn't see either of those options though. ???
May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohanna
I love the combination of the duck with the yarn dyed fabric and pop of neon. They play so well off each other!
Hi Johanna-

The black and navy fabric is sold out but it is available in the Everyday Tote Kit that you can find here:

Or, if you'd like to buy the fabric separately please email customerservice AT purlsoho DOT com and they'll let you know when it comes back in stock.

May 2, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
So great! I love this bag, you couldnĀ“t have chosen better fabrics.

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIsabella
How fun! Love the neon touch!
I love the pop of neon in your totes! Neon is where it's at. ;) Like you, I'm all about big bags. Clutch-style wallet + small accordion couponing binder + stashing my son's iPad in my purse half of the time = need for something roomy!

P.S. I found you via Blog Inc!
May 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenn
So good-looking! If you were to feel extra crafty and wanted to add instructions for extra internal pockets it could make a great diaper bag!
May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulieta
May 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFLOLW
I made one using left over upholstery fabric from another project and it looks great!!
June 12, 2013 | Unregistered
This tote is great and very well constructed!

I don't know what kind of sewing machine you are working with, but I have a Bernina and bought the Bernina Binder Attachment a year or two ago and it would make this bag SO MUCH EASIER. I promise you! I am sure that whatever machine brand you use also has a similar attachment and it would make projects like this a BREEZE!

Thanks so much for the tote!
Hi Molly! I'm a Grade 11 student in Australia and our next project is to make a tote bag to replace the use of plastic bags while grocery shopping (we have an accompanying assignment about how plastic bags are affecting our environment). Anyway, I'm not sure how long we will have to finish the bag, so I was wondering roughly how long it takes to make this tote? We have two 80-minute lessons and two 40-minute lessons per week, however I think that some of these will be used for theory work rather than practical. Do you think I'd be able to complete this design easily? Thanks!
September 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmma Lucas
HI Emma-

I would say this will probably take 2 hours to complete.

Thank you for your question!

September 3, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

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