How to make a large denim tote bag

July 29, 2015

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.

If you love bag pattern check out all my free bag patterns and tutorials.

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Are looking for further ideas for what to do with your old jeans? Check out my 25+ craft ideas for old jeans

How to make a large denim tote bag

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  • 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.

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39 comments so far.

39 responses to “How to make a large denim tote bag”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I love this bag!! xx

  2. Love the combination of fabrics and the hand stitching, Vicky. A great bag!!!

  3. Linda says:

    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!

  4. Vicky, I love this bag and you write a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Emily Cadle says:

    This is great, thank you πŸ™‚

  6. Julie says:

    Beautiful bag Vicky, love the mix of fabrics and the sweet embroidery embellishments .

  7. Jemma Fifield says:

    Brill tutorial, thanks! It’s a good-looking bag. And I also adore all of the tweedy bits and pieces in your Etsy shop!

  8. mumsy says:

    sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo inspiring. God bless

  9. Gina says:

    Love this bag! The handstitched details make it especially precious. Would you use embroidery thread for those?

  10. Ellie says:

    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

  11. Shelly says:

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

  12. Michelle says:

    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.

  13. Emma says:

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

  14. This looks so stylish and I love your instructions. Please do pop over and join me for #Trash2Treasure it is a great way to upcycle fabric.

  15. khosi says:

    I like the bag post other patterns in future

  16. Jill says:

    Great bag Vicky! Those simple little embellishments really do make all the difference!

  17. Virginia Moar says:

    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.

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

  19. RWTreasure says:

    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

  20. Tony says:

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

  21. mary says:

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

  22. Betty Scott says:

    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

  23. RWTreasure says:

    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.

  24. Vickie says:

    Why do you use cm in instead of inches some people have to take the time to convert to inches and that takes time. Thank you.

  25. Vicky says:

    Hi Vickie, I am live in the UK where we work in cm’s – I would love to find the time to convert all the bag patterns into both inches and cm’s so that everyone could easily use them.

  26. Nannieannie says:

    I live in uk but as we only did feet and inches at school I have no idea of the size in cm.

  27. Nannieannie says:

    Thank you.

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A passion for sewing, upcycling and caring for the environment - the perfect excuse to haunt charity shops for bargains!

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