5 sewing tips make a quilted tote bag perfect

The pieces are quilted, the embellishing is done and now it’s time for this tote bag to take some shape. Today I’ll give you 5 tips for sewing the designer tote bag together.


Since the batting and stabilizer were cut smaller than the outer bag the sewing process will go much better than if everything was the same size. If by chance your pieces are all the same size like mine were for this bag then I recommend decreasing your foot pressure to allow it to go over the bulky fabric better and make nice even stitches. If you don’t change the foot pressure then you’ll end up with uneven stitches and skipped stitches. You may have to experiment with how low you need to go. When you’re all done remember to set it back to normal. You’ll also need to decrease the foot pressure when the inner and outer bags are sewn together as there is bulk then and when the top stitching is done at the very end.


Use a walking foot or a dual motion feed foot to help with moving the fabric layers under the foot and over the feed dogs.


Use polyester thread such as Gütermann as it’s stronger than cotton thread and you don’t want your designer tote bag falling apart anytime down the road.


Back tack all seams so that the pieces do not come apart as it’s being made and manipulated under the machine. As you get more pieces sewn together and the bag grows there’s a lot more manipulation.


To make perfect bottom corners start and stop ⅜″ from the edge of the piece – this will allow for the 3 pieces to fit together perfectly and smoothly.

Armed with these tips let’s get going on sewing this designer tote bag together.

Sewing the bag together

Step 1: Sew the bottom panel to the front and back panels starting and stopping ⅜″ from the beginning and end of the seam. You’ll have one big rectangle. Press the seam towards the front and back panels. When I looked at this big rectangle it gave me another idea for a quilt. Isn’t it interesting where inspiration comes from.

Bottom panel added between front and back panels

Step 2: Sew a side panel to each side of the front panel making sure to stop ⅜″ from the bottom. Press the seam towards the front panel.

Side panels added to the front panel

Step 3: Sew the side panel to the bottom panel making sure to start sewing where the other two seams end. Don’t forget to back tack. Pinning with flower headed pins does make this a bit easier and I place a pin where I have to stop so I don’t go to the end and off the edge.

Pinned side piece to bottom piece

Now that there are more pieces together it’s a bit harder to get the bag under the machine but the fabric is malleable so it can be folded to making sewing easier as I have done in this photo below.

Fold bag back for easy sewing

Side panels attached to the bottom panel. The bag is taking shape.

Side panels in place

Step 4: Sew the two side panels to the back panel – pinning does help everything stay in place. When done you’ll have a bag with shape. The side panels need to be trimmed otherwise it’s ready to be turned right side out.

Outer bag sewn together

Turn the bag right side out and it looks so much better. Great corners too using tip #5.

Outer bag complete and right side out

Step 5: Repeat steps 1 – 5 for the inner bag making sure to leave a 10″ opening in the bottom panel to pull the bag through once the two bags are sewn together. If you want pockets in the inside of the bag then they should be added to the front and back panels prior to sewing the inner bag together. I chose not to put any pockets in mine.

Inner bag sewn together

Now that we can see progress in the bag and have had these 5 tips for sewing the designer tote bag together it’s time to add some handles tomorrow. Happy Quilting!

This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3:  How Fray Stop helps your quilting projects

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