Pouch and Tote Bag – Free Pattern

Pouch and tote bag

Pouch and tote bag

This pouch and tote bag is something that I have wanted to make for a long time.  It seemed such a simple idea – but it took me about three or four prototypes before I was happy with the measurements.  Anyway, the idea is that the tote bag is attached along the base to a zipped pouch.  The tote bag can be folded up and tucked inside the pouch so it takes up no room at all in your handbag, but is always there if you need it.

I have made the pouch in cotton canvas for extra strength and the tote bag in poplin to reduce bulk.  You can buy the kit for two of the bags at this week’s special offer.

Cutting requirements for the pouch and tote bag

Pouch:  two rectangles 4″ by 7″, one rectangle 12.1/2″ by 3.1/2″, one 18″ open ended zip (the sort where the two sides of the zip can be separated from each other.

Tote bag:  two 12″ squares and two 2.1/2″ strips cut across the width of fabric in blue.  In yellow you will need three 12″ by 4″ rectangles and one 2″ strip approximately 30″ long.




Curve the corners

Curve the corners

Make the pouch

Using a plate or something similar, mark a curve on each corner of the canvas rectangles and cut the corners along the curves.  Having curves rather than straight edged corners makes it more easy to attach the zip.

Pin the rectangle to the zip

Pin the rectangle to the zip

Start off with the zip intact just to make sure that you have everything the right way round.  Place the zip right side down and one of the rectangles on it also with right side down – so the right side of the fabric lies against the wrong side of the zip.

Pin the zip to the rectangle

Pin the zip to the rectangle

Pin the zip all round the rectangle.  After the first pin or two you can separate the parts of the zip to make the pinning easier.  You need to ease the zip around the curves in the fabric.

Repeat with the second side of the zip on the second rectangle.  Again you want the fabric and the zip both right side down.

Connect the two sides of the zip up again just to make sure that the two sides of the pouch match up.  Then baste all round each rectangle.

Zigzag with black thread

Zigzag with black thread

Finally sew the zip and fabric together.  I used a black thread and a small zigzag stitch – about 2 both for width and stitch length on my machine.

You can now put the two sections of pouch aside while you make the next section.

Make the tote bag straps

Make the tote bag straps

Make the tote bag straps

Sew together two 2.1/2″ strips of blue fabric along the length 1/4″ from each edge with right sides together.

Top stitch the straps

Top stitch the straps

Cut in half and then turn the individual straps right side out.  Press and then sew a seam 1/4″ from each edge to hold the straps in place.

Layout for tote bag body

Layout for tote bag body

Make the tote bag body

I’ve used yellow for the gussets on this bag in the hope that it will be easier for you to see what I’m doing.  I’ve used a slightly different technique to make the tote bag so that I can keep fabric bulk to a minimum.

Sew the sections together

Sew the sections together

Place a yellow strip to the right of one of the blue squares with a yellow strip across the bottom  Place a yellow strip to the left of the second blue square.  Sew the two side gussets to the blue squares.

The top section will be the front of the bag, the horizontal yellow strip will be the base of the bag and the bottom section will form the back of the bag.  Sew the two blue squares to the horizontal gusset.

The back panel will be folded up to make the bag.  I made the mistake here of placing both squares right way up.  In fact I should have placed the bottom square upside down so that it would be right side up on the finished bag.  Obviously this only applies if your fabric is directional.

Join the top to the base gusset

Join the top to the base gusset

Place the corners of the side gussets to the corners of the horizontal gusset as shown in the photo.

Join the bottom to the base gusset

Join the bottom to the base gusset

This joins the two side gussets to the base gusset.

If you are confident enough, you could then pivot and sew up the side seams but I am showing this as a separate step for clarity.

Sew the side seams

Sew the side seams

Fold the back section up so that it is right sides together with the front section.  Sew the two side seams, taking care at the bottom that you don’t include extra fabric in the stitching.

Pin the straps in place

Pin the straps in place

Complete the tote bag

Place a pin half way across the blue square.  You can then use this to make sure that your straps are the same distance from the middle.  Pin the straps in place.

Pin the facing in place

Pin the facing in place

Use the 2″ strip of yellow fabric for the facing.  With right sides together, pin it around the top of the tote bag, covering the straps.

Sew all round the top, securing the straps, facing and tote bag together.

Flip the facing to the inside

Flip the facing to the inside

Flip the facing to the inside.  Sew a line of top stitching around the bag to hold everything together.  Turn under a small hem on the bottom of the facing and sew it to the inside of the bag.

Pin the pouch lining to the tote bag

Pin the pouch lining to the tote bag

Join the pouch lining and tote bag

Pin the pouch lining to the base of the tote bag, right sides together.  I haven’t sewn them together across the entire length because I didn’t want to sew across the seam. Instead I have sewn these sections together by means of a square of stitching at each end.

Sew a square at each end

Sew a square at each end

The weight of your shopping will be on the base of the bag, not the pouch or its lining, so there’s no need to worry about the stitching not going the whole way across.  In the photo you can see roughly where I put a square of stitching.

Join the two pouch sections

Join the two pouch sections

Join the pouch lining and the pouch

Final steps now!  Zip up the pouch and mark a point where you can sew the two pouch sections together.  You need to have the zip done up to be sure that you get two points that lie next to each other.  Put a couple of stitches in to hold the two sections together.

Lay the pouch lining (with tote bag attached) on top of the pouch and pin in place.  Turn under a small hem and sew the lining to the pouch.  Here again I have not sewn right the way across because I didn’t want to get in the way of the zip.

Sew the lining to the pouch

Sew the lining to the pouch

I sewed around the short edges at either end and a short way along the length.  Then I just used a running stitch to hold the seam allowance in place across the middle. After that I resumed slipstitching around the other short edge.

The photo shows how the lining doesn’t reach to the edge of the pouch.  If I hadn’t been so short of time I would probably have made a new, larger lining.

You can now fold your tote bag up, tuck it into the pouch and do up the zip.  Ready to use.

Here’s the video:

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle

Last week I visited Kenilworth Castle.  This began life as a medieval fortress and then became a castle that Queen Elizabeth I gave to her close friend Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester.  He made huge developments to it in his efforts to please the Queen.

Windows

Windows

Although it is mostly ruins now, it has a real presence and you can just imagine it full of Elizabethan figures.  It happened to be the day that here in the UK we had a red sun so that really added to the atmosphere of the place.

My camera is refusing to give up the photos that I took, so I have used the English Heritage images from their site.

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Comments

  1. Sandra McClellan says:

    This is such a clever idea . Thank you so much . Love all of your patters so much

  2. It is a fantastic idea, I have one with similar pouch but without zipper. I really like your commets about your trips too.

  3. Penny Novarro says:

    just wanted to let you know how very much I appreciate your generosity! You share SO much….others want to charge for everything!!! Thanks.

  4. Sandra Barnett says:

    Oh Rose,
    Another great idea. You are one busy person. I have not been doing much sewing as I have had a procedure done to my left knee. They found skin cancer. The doctor got it all out but now I am left with about 15 stitches and will have a scar at least 21/2″ long. Just glad I went when I did. Will get back to sewing maybe next week.
    Hope you enjoy the George Michael tribute Have a great weekend Thank you for the pictures.
    Happy Quilting.
    Sandra

    • Hi Sandra. So sorry to hear about your knee surgery. As you say, very lucky to catch it early. Hope your recovery goes well – definitely a time to take it easy.

  5. Thanks for the great pattern Idea. More and more Canadian stores are doing away with plastic bags so we need fabric bags. I hope to make some as Christmas gifts. Love seeing your Pictures, Good luck with your camera.

    • Thanks, Elizajane. We have to pay for plastic bags in the UK, so I always take my own tote bags when I’m shopping. These would make great gifts – especially if you need to post them.

  6. These instructions for the tote are particularly helpful as you have included your thoughts on what might work better next time. I might have the perfect zipper in my cache of my Mums salvaged zipper collection so will take a look this weekend. Spare totes are so useful to keep project components together.

    • Hi Dawn. I always think a pattern is more useful if it includes extra tips. Like your mother, I also have a cache of salvaged zips – unfortunately none of these were open ended!

  7. Hi Rose,
    I have a few of these bags but they’re nothing like the one you made i.e. no zipper but velcro that I always have a problem aligning. Yours is a lot more practical.

    Thanks for sending the link to the castle. I also found another link http.//www.historic-uk.com/HistoryMagazine/DestinationsUK/Kenilworth-Castle/ll. (copied) It shows an interactive map of castles in England and a short synopsis of each of the castles. I never imagined that England had SO many castles.

    • Hi Claire. Thanks so much for the link. I didn’t realise that there were so many castles either! I can see I’ll have my work cut out trying to visit some of them. I also noted a section on Secret London which looks well worth looking into.

  8. Gwendy Burtz says:

    What a clever idea!!!!!

  9. Really practical and useful – especially in these days of doing away with plastic bags. Love that it can be folded and zipped up to make it smaller. Once again, I’m thoroughly enjoying your adventures.

    • Thanks, June. I thought it looked really simple when I first saw one in a shop – but when I came to make it up I kept sewing the zip to the wrong sections!

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