Large Zippered Tote Bag, free PDF pattern

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Large Recessed Zippered Tote Tutorial, Free Bag Pattern #largezippertote #largetotebag

Recently I was offered some of Tilda’s new Autumn range of fabric to play with, I knew immediately I would make a bag but spent ages contemplating different designs.  Not only is there a new range of fabric but also an inspiring book Sewing by Heart, which is coming out on the 25 September. There are some stunning makes in the book. If quilting is for you you will be inspired. I must admit I am tempted to make the bunny for my niece for Christmas.

After some deliberation between a large shoulder bag or a small messenger bag I have made a large recessed zippered tote bag. A casual wander round department stores had me admiring the large roomy bags for sale, particularly a folded design of corner. Here is my version of the large roomy bag with a zip closure.

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Large zippered tote bag


            Outer Bag

  • Two pieces 7 1/2 by 18″
  • One piece 18 by 21″
  • Contrasting fabric one 8 1/2 by 18″ (pale turquoise in the instructions)
  • Second contrasting fabric 8 1/2 by 21″ (pink flowers in the instructions)
  • Third contrasting fabric  two pieces 5 by 8 1/2″ (deep pink)
  • Piping two pieces 18″
  • Fabric to cover piping two pieces 18 by 1 1/2″
  •    Lining fabric
  • Two pieces 18 by 21″ (main lining)
  • One piece 13 by 8 1/2″ (slip pockets)
  • Two pieces 9 by 12″ (zip pocket pieces)
  •   Contrasting fabric for recessed zipper –
  • Four zipper panels 15 1/2” x 2”
  • One zipper tab, 4” x 2-1/2


  • Fusible fleece
  • Heavy weight iron on interfacing
  • Magnetic snap
  • Zip 16″ (recessed zipper closure to bag)
  • Zip 10″ (internal pocket)
  • Bag handle webbing 1 meter

Front central panel

Let’s start with the front central panel of the bag. Iron on fusible fleece to the reverse of the first contrasting fabric

Iron on heavy weight interfacing to the wrong side of the second contrasting fabric. Fold this in half.  Insert magnetic snap 1″ down from this folded seam, centrally. Insert the snap only through the top layer of fabric.

Top stitch across the top of your folded fabric.

Create the pocket closing flap. Iron interfacing. Place pieces right side together. Using a mug, a roll of sellotape (anything circular you have to hand) mark rounded edges on two corners. Trim the curves to your mark line.

Stitch around the curved line. Clip into the curves and then turn right side out.

Press. Pin your pretty pocket fabric onto the central panel, bottoms aligned. Baste in place. Place your flap onto the central panel so that the flap aligns over the pocket, work out the placement of the other side of your magnetic snap, insert through one layer of fabric on the back of this flap.

Fold the straight edges in of the flap and top stitch close.

Place the flap back on the central panel, with the magnetic snap closed. Pin and then top stitch along the straight edge.

Assemble the outer bag

Piping – place your piping into the contrasting fabric, pin then stitch in place with a zip foot (so you can stitch close to the piping).

Iron on fusible fleece to the wrong side of each denim piece.

Now let’s join the front pieces of the bag together. Place the raw edge of the piping along the raw edge of your decorative front panel. Place the denim on top raw edges matching so your piping is as cheese in bread! Stitch the seam close to the piping. Repeat for the other long side of the decorative panel.

Place the front and back of the bag right sides together. Stitch a seam along the bottom of the bag. Fold this seam inwards 2 1/2 inches, pin in place.

Stitch the side seams of the bag.

Lining pockets

Iron heavy weight interfacing to the wrong side of each lining piece.

Slip pockets- turn over and press twice raw edges of the slip fabric. Place on the lining 4″ up from the bottom of the bag centrally. Stitch around the three sides of the pocket.

Mark a central line, dividing the slip pocket in half with tailors chalk. Stitch, creating two slip pockets.

Zip pocket

Place your zip pocket fabric  5 1/2″ in from the side and 4 1/2″ down from the top, right sides together.

Mark a rectangle 9 by  1/2″ as your stitch guideline.

Stitch round the rectangle. Cut along the middle of the fabric as marked.

Turn the lining fabric through to the wrong side. Press the edges of the opening.

Place your zip behind the opening and tack in place.

Machine stitch in place. Turn your fabric over. Place the second piece of the fabric pocket, right sides together.

Stitch around the pocket, being careful not to capture the main lining.

Recessed zipper

Place one of the zipper panels right sides facing you. Place your zipper right side down along the top long edge, 1/2″ from short end. Place second zipper panel wrong side facing you on top, therefore sandwiching the zip.

Using a zipper foot stitch along your pinned line. Fold the fabric over, and press away from the zip. Fold the raw edges in 1/4″ all round and press. Top stitch.

Fold in half over the zip end, pin and stitch.

Assemble the lining.

Place lining right side up. Place the zipper panel 1 1/2″ down centrally. Pin and sew align the edge of the zipper panel.

Repeat with the other side of the lining.

Pin the two sides of the lining right sides together.

Stitch down the sides of the bag and partially along the bottom. Do not stitch several inches along the bottom of the bag, this will enable you to turn it right side out later.

Fold the side seam to the bottom seam, creating a triangular shape. Mark across at right angles creating a 5″ long seam. Stitch and trim the seam.

Add the bag handle to the main bag, stitch in place.

Place the right sides of the main bag and lining together.

Stitch around. Turn right side out, top stitch round the top of the bag.

Slip stitch to close the gap in your bag lining. You’ve done it, one large zippered tote bag!! Step by step it’s not complicated, if like me you are put off by recess zippers they really are OK!

Large Recessed Zippered Tote Tutorial, Free Bag Pattern #largezippertote #largetotebag

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Here are links to all the other stops on the blog hop

Monday 4th September – SewandSo
Tuesday 5th September – Helen Philipps
Wednesday 6th September – Sew Sweet Violet
Thursday 7th September – Tea and a Sewing Machine
Friday 8th September – Vicky Myers Creations
Saturday 9th September – Little Black Duck


  1. Gail
    September 8, 2017 / 8:56 am

    Thanks for this great pattern and easy instructions.

    • Vicky
      September 10, 2017 / 7:42 am

      So glad the instructions make sense:)

  2. September 10, 2017 / 1:22 am

    Beautiful bag for stunning fabric…love my Tilda too! xAli

    • Vicky
      September 10, 2017 / 7:41 am

      Thank you Ali,I am pleased with the finished bag:)

  3. Cindy Hoover
    September 26, 2017 / 10:03 pm

    Vicky, I can’t find the PDF for the bag pattern. I subscribed, but nothing changed. HELP!

    • Vicky
      September 27, 2017 / 7:15 am

      I have emailed you to resolve this. I’m so sorry this was your experience. Vicky

  4. October 7, 2017 / 12:21 am

    I love this tote bag – the bigger the better! The outside pocket is a cute and functional accent and those folded corners are great. Thanks for sharing the tutorial.

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