Pleated Tote Bag – Free Pattern

Pleated tote bag

Pleated tote bag

I made this pleated tote bag because I feel that it is more secure than some of my tote bags.  The opening at the top is narrower than the rest of the bag.  It’s also very pretty and is very easy to make.  The body of the bag measures roughly 16″ wide at the bottom and about 10″ wide at the top.

The bag is 14″ long.  I made the first prototype 18″ long, but it didn’t look right.  That’s why I went for 14″ long.  I’ve used 1/4 yard of lilac fabric with 1/2 yard each of blue and of the lining fabric.  I’ve also added an applique butterfly peeking out from within the pleat.  You can buy these fabrics and the butterfly at a discount in this week’s special offer.




Use as a handbag

Use as a handbag

Or a shoulder bag

Or a shoulder bag

The bag can be used as a hand bag or as a shoulder bag.

Cutting requirements for the pleated tote bag

14″ by 6″ rectangles:  four blue, two lilac

14″ by 17″ rectangles:  two in the lining fabric

2.1/2″ strip cut across the width of fabric:  one blue for the strap, one lilac for the binding

Make two panels

Make two panels

Make the body of the bag

Sew together two panels of blue, lilac, blue rectangles.  Lay them with right sides together.  Line up the edges and sew round three sides to create a pouch.  This will be the body of the bag.

Sew the bag lining

Sew the bag lining

Lay the two lining rectangles with right sides together.  Once again line up the edges and sew them together on three sides to create a pouch.

Turn the outer bag right side out but leave the lining bag wrong side out.  Push the lining inside the outer bag.

Push the lining inside the bag

Push the lining inside the bag

Line up the edges around the top of the bag and baste all round to secure the outer bag and the lining fabrics together.

Make the pleat

Make the pleat

Create the pleats

Make a mark half way across the lilac strip.  This should 2.3/4″ from either side.  Take the blue/lilac seam on the right hand side and pull it across until it rests on the mark.  Put two pins in to hold the layers together.

Now grab the blue/lilac seam on the left side and pull it across to the midway mark.  The two seam lines will now rest against each other, covering the lilac at the top of the bag.  Pin in place.  Repeat on the other side of the bag so that you have a pleat on the front and the back of the bag.  Sew all round the top of the bag to secure the lining and the outer bag together and to secure the pleats.

Sew the strap

Sew the strap

Make the strap

Cut the 2.1/2″ strip of blue in half to make two lengths about 21″ long.  Place these with right sides together and sew a 1/4″ seam down each side to create a tube.

Turn the tube right side out by pulling one end down over the tube until the whole strip is right side out.  Press and sew a 1/4″ seam down each side again to hold the strap in place.

Pin the strap

Pin the strap

Pin one end of the strap to each side of the bag.

In order to do this, place the raw edges of the strap in line with the raw edges of the bag top.  At this stage the strap will be lying down the side of the bag on each side.

Make the binding

I often use facing at the top of a bag.  This doesn’t show on the outside of the bag.

Add the binding

Add the binding

For this pleated tote bag I decided to use binding instead.  That gives a good finish to the top of the bag.

Fold the 2.1/2″ lilac strip along the length and press.  Lay around the top of the bag with the raw edges of the binding and the bag together and the fold of the binding lying on the bag itself.

Sew all the way round, taking care to catch all layers of fabric in the stitches.  Join the two ends of the binding as for any quilt binding.

Flip the folded edge of the binding to the inside and sew it to the lining.  As an embellishment I sewed an applique butterfly to the lilac rectangle so it seemed to be emerging from the pleat.  That completes the pleated tote bag – I hope you like it as much as I do.

Here’s the video:

Unusual scissors

Unusual scissors

Last week I found a lovely museum not far from here.  It’s in a beautiful 17th century building and is called Oak House Museum.  These unusual scissors were among many delightful treasures within the house.  You can read more about my trip by clicking on the photo or click here.