Gusseted Tote Bag tutorial…part 1

I wanted to show you one of the ways I make gusseted bags (gussets = flat bottom). Some of the steps are always the same, some of the steps can be tweaked. First, I will start with a basic tutorial, and then I will either explain the tweaks verbally or add another mini-tutorial later. Please try to ignore the quality of the photographs… it was really hard to control the light with my usual household chaos.

Let me know if anything is confusing or too vague.

Step 1: Develop the pattern. This is my basic bag pattern… a trapezoid. This pattern is 3 inches wider at the top than at the bottom. The top of the bag is 15 inches.  I always cut the bag liners using this pattern, and I use it for one-piece shells (shell = outside of bag). Since this is a gusseted bag, I added the bag height and half the bag depth to get the top to bottom dimension of the pattern (this bag: 12″ high, 3″ deep… so the pattern is 12″ plus 1.5″ = 13.5″). Add a seam allowance all around.

Liner patternLiner patternLiner
Tools that make this job easy peasy: a sharp rotary cutter and a long rigid ruler.

Step 2: I usually make bags with a contrasting bottom using a second 2-part pattern for the shell. It is the same size as the one-piece pattern, except you need to add a seam allowance all around both pieces.

Shell patternShell pattern

Step 3: Pick a coordinating ribbon… my favorite step.

Picking ribbon

Step 4: Sew together the shell pieces.  Sew the seam allowance between fabrics down.

Sewing shellSew down seam allowance
Here you see me sewing the seam allowance on each side… it is better to sew both allowances down toward the bottom piece of the bag because it creates a small ridge that will hold the ribbon in place.

Step 5: Press the shell and iron on the fusible interfacing.

Iron on fusible lining
I used fusible fleece interfacing on this bag. You can choose the type of interfacing depending on how “hard” you want the shell to be. You can also use a sew-on interfacing if you don’t like the fumes from the fusible (yucky stuff).

Step 6: Sew the ribbon onto the shell where the two fabrics are joined. Sew the shell together with right sides facing.

Finished shell
You can sew the ribbon onto the shell before you add the interfacing. I line up the ribbon on the join of the fabrics so it lays on the top piece of the shell. If you sewed the both seam allowances to the bottom piece of the shell, there will be a small ridge that will hold the bottom of the ribbon on the join.

To be continued…


16 thoughts on “Gusseted Tote Bag tutorial…part 1

  1. Thanks so much…it’s interesting to see the variations in tutorials (I’m just learning to sew). Looking forward to the next step!

  2. Pingback: Tote Bag Ideas & Free Patterns »

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  5. I love the gusseted bag tutorial, but how do I get tutorial #2? It gives me option tutorial #5 next. What am I missing here? I am teaching myself to sew therefore I can’t miss any steps. It is a beautiful bag. I want to make it so bad. I hope I can learn to sew like you do. I am so excited. Thanks for all your photos, that helps me so much.

  6. im looking foar a crocheted tote bag my puter lost its tote bag would nt you know the day after i printed the pattern and the pattern sprouted legs>>> it is gone also… please if you have the pattern it was white maybe cotton… all i can remember is that the tgirl had it posted on TIPNUT>COM>>>

  7. If you go to the archives and click April 2007 It will give all the entries for that month. The bag is towards the bottom of the page but it is in the opposite order . 5, 4, and 3. Then for more entries about it go to the link to older entries entries and it will show the first ones.

  8. Thank you SOOOO much! I was making a tote from directions in “Simply Irresistible Bags” and got horribly hung up on the gusset. There were no photos or drawings, other than the finished product and the written directions were minimal. Thankfully, after much screaming and pulling of hair, I found your tutorial (darling bag, btw) and was not only able to figure out how to do a gusset, but my tote turned out far better than the one in the book!
    Thanks, again! You rock!

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