Kids' craft: How to sew a tote bag

Looking for a fun craft for the kids? A simple tote bag is perfect for a first sewing project.

By Austen Gilliland
Photography by Ryan Brook

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Simple shapes, straight lines and straightforward construction make this tote bag the ideal project for a kid – or anyone – who is just learning to use a sewing machine. Choose your favourite fabric, or make one in plain white or cream canvas, then decorate it with fabric paint or iron-on image transfers.

Take a look at a larger image of the finished tote bag.

You need:
0.5 m (193/4 inches) printed cotton, such as quilting cotton or lightweight canvas
Thread
Rotary cutter, acrylic ruler and self-healing cutting mat
Pins
Pinking shears

To make:
1.
Prepare fabric. Cut two 10 x 50 cm (4- x 193/4-inch) strips, for handles, and one 38 x 76 cm (15- x 30-inch) rectangle, for bag.

2. Make handles. Fold one strip lengthwise in half, wrong sides together, and press. Open up; fold edges to meet in middle and press. Refold along original crease and press, completely enclosing raw edges. Pin; then stitch, 6 mm (1/4 inch) from edge. Repeat with second fabric strip. Set aside.

3. Hem bag. Fold one short end of large rectangle 2 cm (3/4 inch) to wrong side; fold 2 cm (3/4 inch) again to enclose raw edge. Pin; then stitch, 6 mm (1/4 inch) from bottom edge. Repeat on other end.

4. Pin handles to bag. Place one end of handle strip on wrong side of hemmed edge, 7.5 cm (3 inches) from side of bag; pin. Repeat with other end of handle on opposite side. Sew handle to bag, backstitching to reinforce. Repeat with second handle on opposite end of bag.

5.
Sew bag together. Fold rectangle in half, right sides together and matching short edges; press. Using 2 cm (3/4-inch) seam allowance and backstitching at beginning and end, sew along long edges. Trim seam allowances with pinking shears. Turn right side out; press.

Designer's note: Always supervise young children when they're using sharp tools, such as scissors or a rotary cutter, and appliances such as a sewing machine or hot iron.



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