• Tara Deighton

The Totes Ruffled Shopping Bag ~ Free Sewing Tutorial


An easy, free stash busting Pattern Drafting & Sewing Tutorial to make your own glamorous Tote bag for shopping, beach days or over night stays.....


We all need simple carry all bags and totes and they're super simple to make, requiring little in the way of fabric or equipment. I seem to have a collection that I've picked up along the way but I wanted something a little more glam and stylish so what could be more glam than a tote bag WITH RUFFLES?!

I doodled the design as it came to me on a stray piece of paper which happened to be from Liberty London and gathered my fabrics and components. I used a vintage rose print furnishing cotton and some gingham from my stash {Did I mention this is the perfect stash or scrap busting sew?}, a zip I had already and the only thing I had to buy was the bag strapping so I bought the cotton webbing from Jacob's Haberdashery As you can see. I've gone completely Pretty in Pink for this project!

Although I used a cotton gingham for the inner zipped pocket, I would actually recommend a sturdier cloth, such as a canvas so that it sits better in the bag ~ the gingham is a little limp, which is never helpful.... And I used a 36 cms zip as that's what I had, but I'd use a 38cms zip next time I make this tote {because there will be a next time!}

Follow the guide above to cut out your bag pieces ~ All seam allowances are included!

First, prepare the mini pocket by pressing the top edge over by 1 cm twice, then press the sides and lower edge by 1 cm. Topstitch the top edge in place.

Next, position the mini pocket on one side of the zipped pocket pieces ~ you can have the pocket inside the zipped pocket if you prefer but I placed it on the outside. It should sit with 10cms either side and be roughly halfway up. I also pinned the zip in place to this side of the zipped pocket.

I topstitched the mini pocket in place, then using a zip foot, sewed the zip. Then I pinned the zip to the other side of the pocket and sewed it in place.

When the zip is sewn, flip the pocket through the right way. You will have wrong sides together but the pocket will show with right sides out and there will be a raw edge all round apart from the zipped top edge. You can tack the edges together if you prefer but I just pinned the zipped inner pocket to the outer bag.

Make sure the inner pocket is pinned or tacked to the WRONG SIDE of one of your panels! Sew in place.

Next step, and possibly the most tricky if you're new to sewing, is to make the ruffle. I have a little Instagram reels tutorial to help you with this if needed. I'm not really one for gimmicky sewing accessories but my bamboo point turner is a favourite tool of mine ~ a highly recommend bit of sewing kit.

Press the top edge of the outer bag under by 1 cms then again by 2 cms. I find it easier to do this before sewing the entire bag together as it's much less fiddly.

Pin your ruffle around both sides and the bottom of the side without the zipped pocket ~ I found this easier than dealing with pockets and ruffles! Make sure you leave the 3 xms seam allowance at the top and try to get the ruffles as evenly distributed as possible ~ I like to accompany this little bit of the project with a cup of tea. Then I edge stitched the ruffle in place.

With the ruffle facing inwards and right sides of the bag together, pin and then sew the sides and bottom together ~ including the seam allowance that will form the top edge of your bag. You could neaten the edges by either overlocking or bias binding but I left mine raw.

We're very nearly there! Turn your bag through and trim any loose threads. Now you can turn the top edge seam/hem down and topstitch in place. I did 1 side at a time as the ruffle was in the way.

Cut your strap webbing to your required length. I suggest 55 ish cms for each strap as this is long enough to put over your shoulder without constantly falling off but amend as you see fit. I pinned it roughly 6 cms from either each side and I lined up the lower edge of the strap with the topstitched edge. I recommend using a fray stop or similar to prevent your strap from fraying but I was too excited to finish my bag and may come to regret this ommission!

I secured my straps sewing first in a square around the lower section of the strap and then did a cross to make the strap extra secure. My machine didn't like the webbing hence the messy stitching, so you may want to use a size 14 or 16 needle for this part ~ I used a size 12 needle throughout this project.

Ta Dah ~ your Totes Ruffled Shopping bag is ready for action.


I'm looking forward to styling this version up with my Summer wardrobe but I'll be making another one for later in the year. And this tote will make a perfect gift for friends and loved ones if you want to do some selfless sewing ~ a handmade gift is always appreciated.

I hope you enjoy this free tutorial ~ my thank you to you for your continued support! And please tag me on Instagram if you do ~ use the tags #taradeightonatelier and #totesruffledshoppingbag.


Enjoy the sunshine and Happy Sewing,


Tara x

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