Let me show you just how to make a tote bag with lining. I have to confess a tote bag is the style of a bag I reach for – I seem to have several versions to choose from! This tote bag pattern is fully lined and features two slip pockets plus a padded pocket designed for a tablet.
To make your DIY tote bag with lining you are going to need two contrasting fabrics or leather. You could upcycle an old leather jacket, or you could use jeans for the bottom section of the bag.
When selecting your fabric choices for your bag do think about the weights of fabric, a home decor fabric is going to be much stronger than quilting cotton – have fun selecting your fabric choices.
I am aware this is a long post! At the end are printable instructions for you.
The sturdy tote bag has three interior pockets, two slip pockets and a padded zipper pocket for a tablet – this will hold a tablet up to 10 by 7″ (25.5 by 18cm) in size.
Personally I am rather passionate about bag making – if you are new to bag making I have the perfect Beginners Bag Making Course for you which covers so many essential skills for bag making, and includes many free bag tutorials.
Before we start let’s talk about sewing leather, please do not be intimidated. Your sewing machine can cope with leather, let me show you some hints and tips in this short video.
I am rather partial to tote bag sewing patterns and have several free tutorials for how to make a tote bag with lining on the blog:-
- Ten Minute T Towel Tote bag, lining optional!
- How to make a denim tote bag with lining, repurpose your favourite jeans!
- How to make a large tote bag, using wools and various coloured denim
- Sashiko inspired tote bag with lining, this has to be my all-time favourite bag of all time!
How to sew a tote bag with lining and pockets
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Let’s get started making your DIY tote bag with lining. The finished DIY tote bag measures 15″ high by 10.5″ wide by 4″ deep (38cm by 27 cm by 10cm).
The seam allowance for this bag is 1/2″.
Outer tote bag
If you are using leather insert a leather needle into your sewing machine. Place the 16 by 14 1/2 ” length of leather over the edge of the fabric, overlapping the fabric by 1/2″ (1.3cm). Use double-sided tape to hold in place (if you pin the leather the pin marks will always show).
Machine stitch in place, using a leather needle plus strong thread such as upholstery thread or a top stitch thread. Repeat for the second side of the fabric. This gives you one continuous piece of exterior fabric for the outer bag.
Cut out your Annies soft and stable, spray fabric adhesive to the soft and stable, place glue side to the wrong side of the outer piece of fabric.
Fold the fabric in half, right sides of the bag together, hold the long edges with sewing clips then machine stitch the two side seams together.
Box the corner
Mark the bottom corner, 1 1/2″ (3.8cm) square.
Cut out this corner. Fold the fabric so the raw edges are together, forming the base corner of the bag. Remember not to use pins so as not to create holes in your leather.
Machine stitch, backstitching at each edge, thus finishing the boxed bottom of the bag.
Click here for a more detailed tutorial for boxing corners.
Iron heavyweight interfacing to the wrong side of the bag lining pieces, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Now is the time to add any pockets, if you prefer you can skip this step.
To make internal slip pockets
Fold the fabric in half, right sides together.
Stitch around two sides, trim the corners to reduce bulk, being careful not to cut the stitches.
Turn right side out then fold in the raw edge and press.
Place pocket 5″ (12.7cm) down from the top of the right side of the lining and 5 1/4″ (13.3cm) in from the edge. Ensure your unstitched pocket edge is at the bottom of the pocket.
Stitch the three sides of the pocket, doubling your stitching at the top of the sides for strength. check out my detailed tutorial for how to make a slip pocket.
To make the tablet zippered pocket
Iron fusible fleece to the wrong side of your zip pocket fabric. The fusible fleece adds some protection for the tablet.
Place the zip pocket piece 2 1/2″ (6.35cm) down from the top.
On the wrong side mark out a rectangle which itself measures 1/2 by 8″ (1.3 by 20.3cm) from the top of the piece, centrally.
Place onto one side of your lining fabric 4″ (10cm) from the top. Pin to hold in place. Stitch around your rectangle, secure your threads then cut as marked.
Pull the zip pocket through the opening. Iron a neat edge around your opening.
Place your zip so the right side of the zip faces the right side of the fabric. Tack in place. Some people prefer to use fabric glue to hold in place but I prefer hand stitching to hold the zip temporarily.
Turn over and topstitch around the rectangle to secure the zip. Then remove any tacking stitches.
Turn over, fold up the bottom of the zip pocket to the top to create an envelope. Stitch all round to finish the enclosed zip pocket.
Find a more detailed tutorial for how to insert zipper pocket in a bag lining.
Fit the magnetic snap
Measure out the placement of the magnetic snap, place it centrally ” down from the top.
Place a 2″ (5cm) square of fusible fleece on the back. Place the metal washer in position and mark the rectangles.
Cut the markings, I like to use a seam ripper.
Insert the snap, on the reverse place over the metal washer and fold the prongs outwards.
Iron a piece of fusible interfacing over the top, on the back. This will help prevent the magnetic snap tearing the fabric over time. Read a more detailed tutorial for inserting magnetic snaps.
Assemble the lining.
Place the right sides together and sew the two side panels and along the bottom, leaving a 6″ (15cm) opening along the bottom of the lining. This enables you to turn the bag right side out shortly.
Box the corners as you did for the outer fabric.
Assemble the bag
Press open the side seams of your outer bag, although not the leather part. Press open the side seams of the lining. Place the lining over the external bag so the right sides are facing each other. Pin all around.
Stitch along the top of your bag, all the way around. Trim the Annies soft and stable as close the seam as possible.
Turn the bag right sides out. Press the seam. Pull the lining down into the bag, pin along the top of the bag holding the lining in place.
Topstitch all around the top edge of the bag. Due to the thickness of two layers of Annies Soft and Stable it will help your sewing machine if you place two layers of Annies soft and stable parallel so your machine foot is even horizontally.
If your machine struggles with the layers of fabric I suggest a long stitch and travelling slowly.
Pull out the lining of the bag, fold in the open edges along your 6″ (15cm) opening, pin.
Topstitch to close the turning gap.
Attach bag handles
Cut bag handles 1″ by 32″(2.5 by 81cm) – I sourced this leather at a car boot sale, as it is thin so I have stitched two pieces together.
Place the leather straps 2 1/2″ (6.35cm) in from the side of the bag and 1 3/4″ (4.5cm) down from the upper edge.
Check that your double cap rivet is the right size (depth for the bag).
Hole punch two holes at each end of the handle, you may need to punch the hole in the bag first and then in the handle.
Place the male cap rivet through the handle and fabric, press the female side on.
Place the rivet so that the bottom cap lays inside the dip of the round portion of the rivet tool. Align the dipped-in portion of the rod on top and give it a good hit with a hammer (ensure you are on a solid surface!).
If you have not inserted cap rivets before check out my how to put rivets in fabric post which includes a video.
I hope you have enjoyed learning how to sew tote bag with lining. Congratulations – I hope you love your multipocket tote bag as much as I love mine.
If your appetite is sparked for sewing leather check out my 21 free leather bag patterns post.
This tote bag pattern is available as a free PDF in the newsletter resource library or alternatively, you have the opportunity to say THANKYOU by paying £2 UK pounds for PDF download plus printable pattern pieces in my Etsy shop (less than a coffee).
THANKYOU for your support! I love making these tutorials to inspire others to take up the craft of sewing by making it as easy and step-by-step as possible. It may seem silly putting this out there, but one day it may enable me to make this my day job!
Remember, you can download this sewing pattern for FREE as well, just sign up to the newsletter. Or print the card below.
- One leather piece 16 by 14 1/2" (or contrasting fabric) (40.5 by 37cm)
- Outer bag fabric, two pieces 16 by 12 1/4" (40.5 by 31cm)
- Two fabric pieces 13 by 12" for slip pockets (33 by 30.5cm)
- One piece of fabric 24 by 12" for zip pocket (66 by 30.5cm)
- Fusible fleece for zip pocket 24 by 12" (66 by 30.5cm)
- 8" Zip (20cm)
- Two pieces of Lining Fabric 16 by 19 1/2" (40.5 by 49.5 cm)
- Internal slip pockets cut out 13" by 6 1/2" per pocket (33 by 16.5cm)
- Annies Soft and Stable 16 by 38" (40.5 by 96.5cm)
- Heavyweight iron on interfacing 16 by 19 1/2" (40.5 by 49.5)
- 2 Leather bag handles 1" by 32" (2.5 by 81cm)
- Four 8mm double cap rivet
- Magnetic Snap
- Sewing Machine
- Leather needle
- Leather hole punch
- Rivet tool
- Spray fabric glue
- Cut out the fabric and interfacings as per materials list
- Sew the leather and main fabric together to create outer sides of the bag
- Apply the pieces of Annies Soft and Stable to the wrong side of the bag fabric, using spray adhesive
- Place the outer bag pieces right sides together, stitch down the sides and along the bottom.
- Mark a 1 1/2" square in the bottom corners. Cut this square out.
- Fold the edges of the square together and machine stitch, this forms a boxed corner of the bag, repeat for the other corner.
- Apply heavyweight interfacing to the wrong sides of the bag lining.
- Fold the slip pocket fabric in half.
- Machine stitch the side edges.
- Turn right side out and press, turn in raw edges and press. Machine stitch to close
- Place onto lining 5" from side and 5 1/2" from the top. Machine stitch pocket to the lining, taking care to backstitch at top corners.
- Iron fusible fleece to the wrong side of zip pocket
- Place your zip lining fabric, right side facing the right side of the lining, 2 1/2" down from the top edge of lining.
- centrally mark a rectangle 1/2 by 8", with the top edge 4" down from the top edge of the lining.
- Machine stitch this rectangle.
- Cut into each corner diagonally and down the middle of the rectangle. Pull the zip pocket through the hole to the back and press.
- Place your zip do the right side of the zip faces the right side of the fabric. Tack in place.
- Machine stitch zipper in place.
- On the wrong side fold up the zip pocket fabric so edges match and machine stitch all around.
- Insert magnetic snap 2 1/2" down from the top edge, centrally.
- Place the right sides of the lining fabric together and sew the two side panels and along the bottom, leaving a 6″ (15cm) opening along the bottom of the lining.
- Box the corners as you did for the outer fabric.
- Assemble the bag by placing the lining over the external bag so the right sides are facing each other. Pin all around.
- Stitch along the top of your bag, all the way around. Trim the Annies soft and stable as close the seam as possible.
- Turn the bag right sides out. Press the seam. Pull the lining down into the bag, pin along the top holding the lining in place.
- Topstitch all around the top edge of the bag.
- Pull out the tote bag lining, fold in the raw edges along your 6″ (15cm) opening, pin. Topstitch to close the turning gap.
- Attach bag straps. Place the leather bag straps 2 1/2″ (6.35cm) in from the side of the bag and 1 3/4″ (4.5cm) down from the upper edge.
- Hole punch two holes at each end of the strap, through the strap and the bag. Insert double cap rivets through the hole and hammer to close.
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