Sewing a tote bag is a basic sewing craft for beginners. Take two equal-sized pieces of fabric, sew three sides and attach on two straps. Voila! With little to no creativity, we have crafted a handmade tote bag. But let us not be so quick to denigrate the humble, handy tote. Indeed, the tote bag can be a blank canvas to express personality, politics and even priorities.
Simple (Reversible) Tote Bag
For those nervous but wanting to dip their toe into the world of tote bags, start here. The Simple (Reversible Tote Bag) by Skip to My Lou
is an easy yet unique bag with simple and easy-to-follow steps. Use bright print and geometric fabrics to stop simple from becoming boring.
Fused Plastic Tote Bag
Eco glam takes center stage with this creative use of under-appreciated materials. Using a method for fusing plastic bags, create a sheet of fabric with old bags, wax paper and a hot iron. Use flat seams to line the inside of a pre-existing tote, now making it water resistant. Being green never looked so good! Get free tutorials for fusing plastic for a tote bag from ThreadBanger!
Felt Game Tote Bag
The felt Game Tote Bag is a great project that the young gamers in your life will appreciate. One side of the tote offers a matching game while the other features tic-tac-toe. Customize the felt tote bag by attaching a white board to the front and adding a pocket inside for markers and erasers.
The "I Hate Meat Eaters" Tote Bag
Here’s where you can really stick it to the man. Using your opinions or art, individualize a basic tote with iron-on transfers. This might mean a few bucks for tools that aren’t already in your arsenal: an inkjet printer compatible with iron on transfers as well as iron-on transfer paper (one for light fabrics and one for dark). You will also need some design software, like Photoshop or Illustrator.
Get free instructions for using iron on transfers with tote bags from HP. Or, buy the “I hate meat eaters” tote bag from Angry Little Girls!
iPod Tote Bag
If you’re one who can’t be separated from your music, then this tote is a perfect match. A common alteration — sewing on pockets to a pre-fab tote — is updated here by using plastic mesh as a speaker screen.
Gift Tote Bag
This clever usage of old brown bags and some wrapping paper offers a lot of room for creativity. Print out antique wallpaper patterns, stamp with ordinary objects like apples or even line your gift tote with old magazine clippings. These added touches will show the receiver how much you value them.
Get the free Gift Tote Bag pattern from eHow!
Tank Tote Bag
Upcycle old clothes into an awesome handbag! A discreet snip in the bottom hem of a shirt serves as an opening for a braided nylon cord or an unpaired boot lace. A safety pin makes lacing the cord through the hem much easier. After sewing a few stitches to secure a drawstring toggle, you're done. The cord can be pulled tight as shown in the picture or loosened for washing.
Get the free Tank Tote Bag pattern from All Crafts.
Photo credits (from top): Jupitar Images, skiptomylou.org, thegreengals.co.uk, barefootchildhood.com, angrylittlegirls.com, instructables.com and allcrafts.net