Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Carry Everything Tote Tutorial - Melly Sews

Back in January when I went to Alt, I ended up carrying this leather tote around a lot.  Which is why today I’m sharing this tote tutorial. You see, that leather tote, though I love it for library books and laptop carrying, led to some embarrassing situations, where I felt like I spent most of the conference digging through my bag and causing awkward silences with people I had just met. Because whatever I needed – a card, a media kit, my phone, gum – it was never close at hand. So the day I was supposed to be packing for SNAP, I decided to sew this tote. The good news? It worked great to keep me organized, and since I was able to sew it and still catch my flight, you know it’s something you can make quickly.

An easy to sew tote that keeps everything you need close at hand - Melly Sews

The picture above is how I carried it around SNAP – business cards and phone  in open pockets at the top, media kits in the bottom, iPad for note taking and a notebook in case I needed to give notes to someone else.

Want to make your own? You’ll need about 3/4 yard of lining fabric and 1/2 yard of the main fabric. Unless you decide to make yours bigger, which you could totally do. Here’s what I cut (measurements in inches); you’ll also need about 1 1/2 yards of cotton cording for the straps.

Materials - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

To start, take two pocket pieces and sew them together along one long end. Then turn right side out and press. Topstitch the sewn end if desired. Repeat with the other two pocket pieces.

Step 1 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Place each pocket piece on an outside piece, lining up side and bottom edges. Stitch along the red line to dived the pocket into two.  On the reverse side of the bag I divided the pockets so that one was 2/3 of the width and the other was 1/3 instead of 1/2 and 1/2 as shown below.

Step 2 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Take the two inside pocket pieces and put them right sides together then sew the long edges. Turn this right side out and press.

Step 3 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Place the pocket on one of the lining pieces and sew across the bottom, then sew lines to divide it into 3 pockets.

Step 4 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

I also added an inside zipper pocket to hold personal stuff. Place the zipper pocket right sides together with the other lining piece, about 1″ from the top edge. Sew a rectangle 8 1/2″ long by 3/8″ wide about 1″ down from the edge of the pocket. Cut through both layers of fabric down the center of the rectangle, cutting Y shapes into the corners.

Step 5 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Turn the pocket to the wrong side of the lining, revealing the hole for the zipper and press.

Step 6 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Position the zipper centered in the hole. You can use a couple pieces of transparent tape to hold it in place.

Step 7 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

On the right side, topstitch around the zipper to secure it.

Step 8 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Fold the rest of the pocket up, then sew around the three raw edges to complete the pocket

Step 9 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Sew the two outside pieces of the bag right sides together, pockets and all.


Step 10 -Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Repeat with the lining, but leave a hole in the bottom for turning.

Step 10-1 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Fold the corners of the bag, matching the bottom seam with the center seam. about 1 1/2″ in from the corner point, stitch straight across. Repeat with the other corner and with the lining corners.

Step 11 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

This is what the bag looks like once the corners are stitched.

Step 12 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Make the straps by folding the leather around cotton cording, and sewing with a piping foot, getting the needle as close to the cording as possible. For more help, see this post.

Step 13 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Turn the bag right side out. Pin the straps to the outside of the bag. Make sure to pin within the seam allowance so that the pin marks won’t show in the finished bag.

Step 14 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Place the lining wrong side out over the bag, matching seams and sandwiching the straps. Match the raw edges and stitch around the top of the bag.

Step 15 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Use the hole in the lining to turn the bag. Stitch the hole shut using a blindstitch. Push the lining into the bag.

Step 16 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

Topstitch around the top of the bag.

Step 17 - Carry Everything Tote Tutorial

You’re done! I carried this bag not only to the conference, but also all around California when we were on vacation and now it heads to the pool with me on a regular basis. I think I need to make more of these…or maybe just a similar lining to add to my leather tote.

Pockets  to keep you organized - sew a toe bag to carry everything with this tutorial by Melly Sews


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  1. Kristie says

    Thank you for putting this tutorial together! I need to make me a new purse, as the one I have is gigantic and I loose things in the bottom all the time. Usually my phone because it is in a black case! I love the pockets on the outside! Thanks!

  2. Stephanie says

    Love this tote! Would you mind sharing where the leather you used for the straps is from? Thank you!

    • says

      Thanks! Sure, I used more of the hide I got from Leather Hide Store. It’s actually from the same hide that I used to make the leather tote I linked at the beginning of the post.

  3. Jackie Butterill says

    Thank you for one of the best tutorials I have seen. Using the red line in the photos made it so easy to follow.

  4. Rona says

    I also think this is the best tute I have read. Very clear step by step pics and the red line makes the difference. Is it possible to print this tute as I dont have a device in my sewing room to follow each step. I look forward to more tutes on bag making. Do you have a carry-on travel carry all? Many thanks!

  5. says

    Love the tote bag, it’s great that you’ve added all those pockets. Too often bag patterns just don’t feature any and I hate having all my stuff in just one cavernous space. Definitely going to have to make this one, off to pick some fabric now :)

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