The Oversized Tote

To recover from my rayon dress experience, I made a tote bag.  Easy, quick and perfectly practical–the best kind of sewing project.


I realized I needed a giant tote bag when my husband and I went to Lake Belton.  I didn’t have a tote large enough to hold 2 towels (make that 3 because the dog needs her own!), a water bottle, my phone, wallet, etc, etc.  (I didn’t want to carry my purse and another bag).  I really needed a giant bag to put everything in one place.

So, I whipped up this tote using materials I had in house (except I decided I had to have web handles that I picked up at my local Hancock’s).  I based the size off of two towels folded and stacked, plus a little more room for all my extras.

The exterior fabric is a heavyweight home decor type fabric that was given to me.  I applied fusible interfacing to give it a little more body.  The interior fabric is a quilting cotton.


The straps are attached about 2″ below the bag opening and across the bottom of the bag.  I used a full 3 yards of the webbing material for the straps, bringing the two ends together on the bottom of the bag.

I was debating whether to sew them in place all the way around when my husband noticed that by leaving the straps loose, I could fit a yoga mat under the straps.


I’ve never needed to carry a yoga mat, but I like the option!  It seemed like a practical design feature as well as an excuse to be lazy and leave the handles as they were.

Honestly, I attached the handles last, as an after thought.  I originally planned to make fabric handles and only attach them at the top of the bag.  But I decided a contrasting color as well as the strength of webbing would be better suited to the size of this tote, so I added them on last.  If I make another such tote bag (or if you, dear reader, should like to make one), I would attach the straps to the outer fabric before sewing up the bag.  It would be so much easier to ensure the straps were properly centered on a flat piece of fabric.

I took my tote down to the pool for a photo sesh, and I loaded it up with all the goodies one might take to the pool, lake or beach:  two towels, yoga mat, water bottle, sunscreen, sunglasses, ipad, phone, keys, camera, and room for snacks.

The bag easily accommodated all I needed (plus the yoga mat that I didn’t need!)


An interior pocket would be a nice addition, now that I think about it, to keep my smaller items from getting lost in the bottom of the bag.  But I’m really happy with my new bag, and I can’t wait for the next trip to the pool or lake.  I’m ready now.


Where do you go to cool down on a hot summer day?


  1. What a perfect bag– it’s so cute and just the right size! I think I would give just about anything for a dip in that lovely pool on a hot New York day!

  2. Qui, that is the most beautiful bag!!! Those handles are so awesome, I’m totally going to copy you if that’s ok :)

  3. I LOVE the bag!!!! I second the idea of the interior pocket. I have made something with a panel-organizer-style-pocket with different sized slots for cell phone, keys and a couple pens…a must with a large bag. Great pictures, too!

  4. Cool bag! I’ve got three kiddos and all their stuff, along with sometimes an extra friend or two, so I’m usually hauling several bags, coolers, etc…

    I bought some lovely off-white cotton duck to make a BIG bag from, but I haven’t figured out where to start. As soon as I get an idea set, I keep changing it. Also, I’m afraid of wrecking my sacred machine because I’d like to sew pockets on the front, back, and sides, and I’m afraid that might be more layers than my machine can handle.

    Did you have any problems sewing with what looks like thicker fabric you used for your bag?

Please leave me a comment and let me know you stopped by!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s