FREE PATTERN Summer Carry All Bag

This square-bottomed tote bag is fun and easy to make, and perfect for carrying your towel, bathing suit, water bottle, sunscreen, and book to the pool or beach.  It is also great for going to the farmer’s market, gym, or grocery store.  It is a perfect pattern for using up the single yards of fabric you have left in your stash!  The pattern is based off a similar bag in the Folkwear collection from India.  You can make it with a main fabric and lining or you can make it reversible (using two of your favorite fabrics).  The bag also has optional ties so that you can provide some closure to the bag to keep items upright or from falling out.  Instructions and pattern are below, but you can also download the zip file here.  


  • 1 yard each of an outer fabric and a lining fabric. The bag can be made to be reversible, but I am still going to use "outer" and "lining" fabrics in the instructions.  You can choose which of your fabrics that will be.
  • Coordinating thread
  • Pattern (can be found here). This is a zip file with the PDF pattern.  There si a tiled file that will print out on ten sheets of paper, as well as copyshop version.  This is a great pattern to get used to PDF patterns if you have not used them before.  You print the tiled version of the pattern at home and tape the sheets of paper together to make the whole pattern piece.  When printing at home, make sure you are printing "Actual Size" or "100%", and check that the test square is the correct size.

Cut out your pattern:

  • Cut two outer fabric and two lining fabric of the bag pattern
  • Cut one bottom square of each outer fabric and lining fabric
  • Optional: Cut two 10” (cm) by 1.5” (3.8cm) rectangles from main fabric for ties


1/2" (13mm) seam allowance is used throughout this pattern.

For regular tote bag with shell and lining:

Step 1.  With right sides together, sew sides of outer shell together at side seams.  Then, with right sides together, sew sides of lining together at side seams.

Step 2.  With WRONG sides together, put the lining inside the outer shell, matching side seams. 

Pin outer bottom square to outer shell at the bottom with right sides together, matching dots at corners of square to dots on bottom of the bag.  Pin lining bottom square to lining at the bottom with right sides together, matching dots at corners of square to dots of bottom of the bag.  The lining and shell will be sandwiched between the bottom squares.  Stitch between dots, back stitching at each dot.

Step 3.  Pin next side of outer and lining bottoms to bottoms of shell and lining, again matching dots and sandwiching the shell and lining between the bottoms.  Stitch between dots, backstitch at each end.

Do the same for the next side of the bottom pieces.  Try not to catch extra fabric in the stitches.

Step 4.  Turn bag right side out, then flip the lining out so you can sew the last bottom edge.  First, sew the shell pieces together (bottom piece to shell bottom) between dots, backstitching at each end. 

Slip stitch or machine stitch the lining opening of the lining bottom and bottom piece closed between dots.  If machine stitching make sure you catch both sides and back stitch at each end.

Step 5.  Sew top of handles together:  With right sides together, sew the outer handles together at top edge.  With right sides together, sew the lining handles together at top edge.

Step 6.  Turn under and press 1/2" (13mm) to wrong side the open edges of shell and lining. 

For optional ties: 

For each tie, fold and press ½” (13mm) to wrong side at one short end.  


Then fold in half lengthwise and press, wrong sides together. 

Open up and fold long edges toward center fold (wrong sides together).  

 Then, fold back together along center and press.  Stitch from folded under short end, turn and stitch along long edge, catching both sides of the tie. 

If using ties, pin them, with at least ½" (13mm) of the open end of the tie inside the areas between the outer shell and lining, centered at the lines marked on the pattern piece.  You only need one tie on one side of each side seam. 

Line up and pin the folded edges of the outer shell and lining (bag and handle) and top stitch close to edge.

For a fully reversible bag:  This bag does not have one bottom lining side top stitched together as the other bag does - all lining and outer bottoms are sewn with normal seams to the rest of the bag.  This one is made similarly, though, but the lining and outer fabrics are sewn together at the top first (not top stitched), then turned right side out.  It can be made with different fabrics that will look good no matter which side is out.  The lining and shell are not attached to each other at the bottom as the bag above is.  

Step 1.  With right sides together, sew outer shell together at sides.  With right sides together, sew lining together at sides.

Step 2.  With right sides together, sew bottom lining to bag lining between dots, matching dots and back stitching at each end.  Turn and match the next bottom edge to the lining bottom, matching dots, stitch between dots and back stitch at each end.  Continue around to sew all four sides of the bottom lining to the bottom of the lining of the bag. 
Do the same with the outer shell and outer bottom.

Step 3.  Turn lining right side out and put inside shell with right sides together. Match side seams.

Pin optional ties inside, between the outer shell and lining with ties hanging down between the layers.  

Step 4.  Stitch each side of the bag together, leaving a 3” (7.6cm) opening in one area on the lower area of one side of the bag handle.

Clip curves within the seam allowance.  Turn right side out through the opening in the stitching. 

Step 5. With right sides together, stitch outer handle side to other outer handle side, matching seam lines and stitching as far around as you can.  This will be like stitching a "ring" together.  You can stitch one side (lining or outer fabric completely together) and part of the other, but you won't be able to get all the way around the "ring".  Slip stitch the rest of the open closed.

Pocket:  If you want to add a pocket, it is easy to add a rectangular (or other shaped) patch pocket to the lining of one side before you put the lining and outer shell together.