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How to make a large denim tote bag

Create yourself a stylish large denim tote bag with this free tote bag pattern. The large handbag is made with a variety of upcycled materials, with hand stitching for embellishment, your own padded handles and a magnetic closure.

Sew up your own denim bag with this free, easy sewing pattern. Tutorial for a large denim tote, featuring padded handles, magnetic closure and internal zip pockets, upcycle your jeans #freebagpattern #totebagpattern


How to make a large denim tote bag

This bag is inspired by one similar spotted on Pinterest – unfortunately, I have no record of this bag. If you think it was your bag that inspired this one please contact me so that I can give proper credit for the inspiration.

How to make a large denim tote bag



  • 32 by 54 cm fabric (this is for the bottom of the bag)
  • 9 by 54cm 2 pieces of fabric11 by 54cm 2 pieces of fabric
  • 16 by 54cm 2 pieces of fabric
  • Fusible fleeceHandles
  • 2″ by 28″ twice for fusible fleece
  • 2″ by 30″ twice for the fabric

         Tab Closing

  • 15 by 11cm lining fabric with heavy weight interfacing
  • 15 by 11cm denim  with heavy weight interfacingLining
  • 54 by 94 cm lining fabric with heavyweight interfacing
  • 23 by 31cm lining fabric for pocket one
  • 36  by 46cm lining fabric for pocket two
  • 33cm zip
  • 20cm  zip

To make:

Outside of the bag

layer your fabrics as per your finished bag, creating one long rectangle, this will be approximately 92cm by 54cm. Stitch together allowing 1 cm seam allowance.

Fabric placement

Hand stitch with running stitch 3mm from the seam.

Embellish the front of your bag by placing your three squares of fabric as is pleasing to you. Stitch the squares on. Handstitch your own design onto your squares. I have used simple stitches and french knots for the design shown.

french knots

Iron on your fusible fleece on the back of your pieced bag fabric

Fold the bag fabric in half, lining up your fabric seams along the sides.

Align edges

Stitch the side seams.

Next create the base. Iron the fold at the bottom of the bag, this gives you a neat crease. Fold the side seam of the bag to the crease.

create bag base

Mark a 3″ seam with taylors chalk. Stitch and trim the corner off.

trim corners

Repeat for the other corner. Turn the bag right side out.

bag base

Create the flap closure. Mark the point for the magnetic snap 3.5 cm from short edge and centrally between the side edges on the lining (with heavy weight interfacing attached). Insert magnetic snap.

Place right sides together of fabric flap.

magnetic snap

Stitch three sides. Trim seam allowance.

trim seams of fabric flap

Turn right side out and top stitch round the edges.

fabric flap closure


Place centrally and baste into place along the top of the rear of the bag.

baste fabric flap closure

Mark the point for the magnetic snap on the front of the bag, and insert.

Bag handles – create you bag handles. See my tutorial on So Sew Easy. Place on the bag 8cm down from the top and 10.5 cm in from the sides of the bag. Sew on, I suggest sewing a a rectangle and sewing across it diagonally to add strength.


place bag handles

Lining – adhere heavy weight interfacing to the fabric. Create two zipped pockets. Place centrally 8cm down from each short edge.

zip placement

Join the sides of the lining together, and then create the corners for the bag base, following the instructions as for the main bag.

Place the lining inside the bag – right sides together. Stitch the top of the bag all round, except for a four inch gap for turning right side out.

attach bag and lining together

Turn right side out, and then top stitch along this seam. One finished bag:)

How to make a large denim tote bag Upcycled Tote Bag Pattern Step by step instructions to create stylish large tote

If you love repurposing denim as much as I then check out my popular sashiko tote bag pattern, or how about a small cross body bag emnbellished with hand embroidery? Check out my pinterest board for many free bag patterns.

This post is linked up on All Free Sewing –  do check out the website, its full of free inspiring sewing projects.

New to sewing bags? Would you like a prompt sheet for sewing through thick layers of fabric? Sign up to my newsletter for access to the free resource library.






  1. Elizabeth
    July 29, 2015 / 8:03 am

    I love this bag!! xx

    • Vicky
      July 30, 2015 / 4:22 pm

      Thanks Elizabeth:)

    • Vicky
      July 30, 2015 / 4:22 pm

      Thanks Pam – I enjoyed the handstitching, makes a change for me:)

  2. July 30, 2015 / 3:22 pm

    love this! what a great way to use up some of those old blue jean legs I’ve been stockpiling. This tote would be so versatile and handy. Thanks for the great tutorial!
    Linda recently posted…Hearts for Home Blog Hop – 7.30.15My Profile

    • Vicky
      July 30, 2015 / 6:06 pm

      Glad you like it – enjoying making your own version:)

      • Sharanda
        June 17, 2016 / 10:52 pm

        Hey love the bag is cm is measure as inches

    • Vicky
      August 1, 2015 / 7:02 am

      You are welcome Maria, glad you like it:)

  3. Emily Cadle
    August 4, 2015 / 2:20 pm

    This is great, thank you 🙂

    • Vicky
      August 5, 2015 / 7:21 am

      You are welcome:)

    • Vicky
      August 5, 2015 / 7:22 am

      Thank you:) – perfect for amy kids drinks, cardigans and everything else they wish me to carry for them!!

  4. mumsy
    October 5, 2015 / 3:56 pm

    sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo inspiring. God bless

    • Vicky
      October 5, 2015 / 4:28 pm

      Thank you so much:)

    • Vicky
      November 8, 2015 / 9:31 pm

      You could do:) I used a quilting thread as it was to hand!

  5. Ellie
    December 24, 2015 / 1:48 am

    Vicky it’s great to see up cycled items. We make woven rag rugs and they are a great seller. Keep up the great work . Ellie

  6. March 8, 2016 / 2:41 am

    That’s a super cute bag! I love it. I love the colors and I love that you used denim too. Job well done!

  7. June 1, 2016 / 2:16 pm

    Hi, Vicky! This is awesome – I really love the minimalist yet sweet design of the bag! Great tutorial, it is def something i want to try.

  8. June 2, 2016 / 2:37 pm

    Hi Vicky, this bag is beautiful and such great pictures to follow.

  9. khosi
    June 9, 2016 / 4:29 am

    I like the bag post other patterns in future

  10. June 27, 2016 / 1:38 am

    Great bag Vicky! Those simple little embellishments really do make all the difference!
    Jill recently posted…A Round Tuit 316My Profile

  11. Virginia Moar
    August 12, 2016 / 8:09 pm

    I make bags with this pattern but instead of cutting off the corners I sew the triangles along the bottom of the bag to make it a bit stronger.

    • Vicky
      August 14, 2016 / 9:31 am

      That’s a great idea:)

  12. December 2, 2016 / 7:53 pm

    Sure looks neat! How do I convert cm to yards/inches? Thank you!

  13. RWTreasure
    March 9, 2017 / 6:31 am

    LOVE this tote! I plan to make several, and to use them for grocery shopping bags!
    I’ll make wider straps for comfort carrying heavy loads, & longer too so I can sew them down all the way to bottom of the bag.
    ‘Don’t want handles to tear off under heavy loads.
    I may gift one to my sister for a beach bag, adding at least one outside picket.
    Yes, one of the things I LOVE abt this bag is how easily adaptable it is!
    Thank you c

  14. July 10, 2017 / 9:57 am

    This bag is very beautiful. The harmonious combination of ideas. I will make one myself.

  15. mary
    March 30, 2018 / 11:41 am

    love the bag how to convert cm into inches would love to make this bag thanks

  16. Betty Scott
    September 20, 2018 / 1:27 pm

    The Denim Tote is a great pattern. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with the metric system, and will not translate to English. Just a suggestion…put the metric and decimal dimensions in the pattern. I have a friend that might be able to help me. Thank you and God Bless

  17. RWTreasure
    September 20, 2018 / 8:47 pm

    I LOVE this bag. With a wider bottom, say 4”-5” instead of 3”, and with slightly longer handles with a wider padded area at shoulders,
    This is also an awesome bag for grocery shopping!! Sturdy, from the denim and linings, washable so it’s hygienic, recycling-green, and plain wonderfull cuz it’s denim.

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