Mini Tote Bag Tutorial

Hello.  The sky is covered with dark menacing clouds. The thunder is roaring and roaring and roaring.  But no rain.  Adding another bit of nastiness is VOG; a volcano smog from the active volcanoes on the "Big Island".  Here's a pic of the VOG I took the other day.
Oh yeah; it blocks out the sun big time.  The VOG covers the entire island chain and gets this bad when there is little wind to help blow it away. 

It's perfect weather to stay in and work on .... my blog post. heh.

Since sewing, I take more notice of women's bags and totes.  You might also find me in Walmart (they have some really cute fabric handbags!)  handling a bag; trying to figure out its construction.

In my last post on interfacing, I mentioned this mini styled tote bag that I noticed was popular with Japanese women on the train in Tokyo area.   (OH the RAIN just started pouring!) 


The construction is fairly basic but I do want to share the dimensions. Sometimes just finding the right size causes major grief so I hope this size is perfect for you!

Preparing Fabric

  • Cut one piece for the exterior : 20" length x 11" width  (if your fabric has a directional design, cut 2 pieces)
  • Cut one piece for lining : 19" length x 11" width
  • Cut mid weight woven interfacing : same as exterior
  • Optional : cotton batting; cut same as exterior fabric or fusible fleece for a soft padding
  • For Handles : Cut 2 cotton webbing pieces; 13" long (finished size is 11")
 Construction
  • For seams : I used my sewing foot; lined up with the edge of the fabric; as a guide for the seam. Or use 1/2" seam
  • Place cotton batting wrong side of exterior fabric, pin in place
  • Fold exterior fabric in half; right sides together; sew sides.  Trim cotton batting away from seam to lessen bulk.


  • Fold lining in half; sew sides together; leaving a 3" gap on one side for turning bag
  • Box corners; measure 4 inches across; sew and trim.
  • For Handle Placement : Find middle of exterior fabric and mark.  Measure 3 inches to the right of the center and mark. Measure 3 inches to the left of the center and mark. Do on both sides of the bag. Place webbing as shown in picture (the needle is the 3" mark).  I left a 1" allowance on the handle. Baste in place.
  • Place bag inside lining; right sides together. Pin along top edge. Sew lining and exterior pieces together with handles sandwiched in between. Trim the handle allowance about 1/2".
  • Turn bag inside out through gap.
  • Sew gap close.
  • Enjoy
Pick your favorite fabric to make this bag...the cuter the better...Here's a shinzi katoh alice in wonderland mini tote bag (top left) design...Cute huh? 
pic from this shinzi katoh site

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