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DIY Canvas Tote Bag

See this DIY canvas tote bag that I sewed up in an afternoon - it even has metal rivets! The pre-drilled leather handles make it super easy and look professional. Perfect tote bag to sew for beginners.

The last bag I sewed up was a gigantic carpet bag, and I use it all the time for road trips and library hauls. I’d been thinking about finding something smaller for myself, and tried this diy canvas tote bag kit out for size. I am happy with how it turned out but decided it was the perfect gift for a friend, so I guess I’ll need to make more.

Stitchcraft Marketing arranged for Crosscut Sewing Co. to send me a tote bag kit and fabric to try out and share – but as longtime readers know I am always honest and all opinions are my own! This is made from a free pattern on their blog, that I link towards the end of this post.

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The tote bag kit includes a printed pattern, the rivets, magnetic closure, leather handles, and base interfacing rectangle. I used the tan handles, but looks like they only have the black in stock right now. Although I have used grommets in the past, I had never tried rivets. The cap basically snaps on and then you bang it shut with a wax mallet. Super easy, and they look fantastic!


The pattern has a magnetic purse closure, which are simple to insert, and a small pocket. I left my soap line on there so you can tell where the dividing line is, but I’ll wash it off. Here you can see the lining fabric, which is Conservatory in plum*, designed by Heather Jones for Robert Kaufman and the outer fabric isΒ  Maker Maker cats fabric in black*, designed by Sarah Golden for Andover Fabrics

The pattern used fusible fleece and fusible interfacing to give it a really nice shape; I am super impressed with how the canvas and fusible fleece worked together.

The bag easily holds a standard size folder; you can see the nice solid bottom and a better shot of the rivets as well.

An action shot for scale! I feel like it is just big enough, without anyone exclaiming that I’m carrying a suitcase around, but still has a ton of storage.

Lastly, a totally natural, not at all awkward pose to show you the depth. It holds its shape really nicely without being stiff, and has tons of room.

Thinking about what I don’t love about the pattern- as much as I like magnetic closures, I don’t think this bag needs one and I would keep any future totes open. The pattern calls to add extra interfacing for stability by the magnetic closure after it is has already been inserted, and I prefer to add an extra square of interfacing before cutting through and inserting. I think on any future patterns, I would use a plain color for the lining that matched the outside; with how long the top of the tote is, it inevitably dipped and showed the lining more than I like.

The printed pattern was a breeze to follow, with color photos that are great for beginners. Two tools that made this bag much simpler were an awl* for punching the rivet holes and wonder clips* to hold the lining and outer fabric together! If you want to sew the bag up yourself, the free tutorial is on Crosscut Sewing’s blog here, and you can see more examples of the tote as well.

See this DIY canvas tote bag that I sewed up in an afternoon - it even has metal rivets! The pre-drilled leather handles make it super easy and look professional. Perfect tote bag to sew for beginners.

This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. oOOoo I saw your bag at Pam’s linky party and came for a quick peek – the cat fabric caught my eye immediately πŸ™‚ What a great bag – I haven’t done straps with rivets before but I’ve been seeing them around the web and I want to try them out. I like that you posted what you liked and didn’t like about the tutorial, but I’m on the other side of the fence with the lining print – I think it adds just the right pop of colour when it peeks out πŸ™‚

  2. I love the combination of the leather handles with the canvas. In a past life, when I had ready access to leather working tools, I created a few items made with leather. I’ve just given away one of the last to an Op Shop – a hand punched leather belt – think 70’s hippy style. Sadly, it no longer comes anywhere near fitting around my waist. It’s time I applied some of those skills to handbags, which will always *fit* me. I’ve featured your bag today, Stephanie.

  3. I’ve made lots of bags, but none yet with leather straps. So appreciate your clear photos and instructions, and love the fact that you’ve provided supplies information. πŸ™‚ Thank you!

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