She Sews! · Dec 28, 2016

How to Sew a Tote with Many Pockets! {free sewing pattern - Part 1}

This tote has to be your bag for 2017! It is just the right size for a purse, plus you can carry items that you want to keep organized and grab quickly in the 6 (yes six!) exterior pockets.

I took inspiration from the new Charlotte collection of fabrics from Anna Griffin. If you love florals like I do, ask your local quilt shop to carry Anna Griffin's fabrics (if they don't already). They are so gorgeous!

I also used Essex linen (linen cotton blend from Robert Kaufman) on the bag exterior.

This tote features a button and loop closure, and D-rings with swivel snap clips to attach the strap. If you want, you could skip the clips and sew your straps directly to the D-rings.

The boxy bottom of the bag and the interfacing that I used in most of the pieces give it great structure.

The finished tote is approximately 12'' tall x 12' wide and 3'' across the bottom. The lower pockets are 5'' deep, the top pocket is 8 1/2'' deep, and there are optional pockets on the inside too. You could also use my tutorial to put a welt pocket on the interior if you like.

So let's sew! To make this tote bag, you will need:

  • 1/2 yard fabric for the main exterior (mine was the Essex Linen)
  • 1/2 yard fabric for the lining
  • 1/2 yard fabric for the top pocket
  • 1/2 yard fabric for the bottom pocket, the D-ring tabs, and the button loop
  • 1/2 yard fabric for the slip pocket and the strap
  • 1 1/4 yards of fusible fleece interfacing (such as HeatnBond fusible fleece)
  • 2 yards of medium weight woven interfacing (such as Pellon ShapeFlex SF101)
  • 2 D-rings, 1'' wide
  • 2 swivel snap clips (optional, if you'd rather sew the strap directly to the D-rings)

Tote with Many Pockets Sewing Tutorial


For the bag exterior, cut:

(all of these measurements are height x width)

  • 2 rectangles 15'' x 14'' from the main exterior fabric
  • 4 rectangles 9 1/2'' x 14'' for the top pocket
  • 4 rectangles 7 1/2'' x 14'' for the bottom pocket
  • 2 squares 4'' x 4'' for the D-ring tabs
  • 1 strip 2'' x 6'' for the button loop
  • 1 strip 4'' x 40'' for the strap

For the bag interior, cut:

  • 2 rectangles 15'' x 14'' for the lining
  • 1 rectangle 11'' x 12'' for slip pocket

From fusible fleece interfacing, cut:

  • 2 rectangles 15'' x 14'' to go on the main exterior pieces
  • 1 strip 1'' x 37'' for the bag strap

From medium weight woven interfacing, cut:

  • 4 rectangles 15'' x 14'' for the top pocket
  • 4 rectangles 7 1/2'' x 14'' for the bottom pocket
  • 1 rectangle 11'' x 12'' for the slip pockets


Fuse the fusible fleece to the bag exterior pieces and the medium weight woven interfacing to all of the exterior pocket pieces and the interior slip pocket piece.

More Cutting:

1. Fold an exterior piece in half with the 15'' edges together. Make a mark on the fold 3/4'' from the edge.

2. Cut, starting at the mark and curving out to the corner, as shown above.

3. Use this piece as a pattern to curve the top edges of the other bag exterior piece and the exterior pocket pieces.

Note: This step is optional if you don't want the top edges of your bag and pockets to be curved. Or you could make a deeper curve, like 1 or 1 1/2''.

4. Use a fabric marking pen to mark 1 1/2'' squares in the bottom corners of an exterior piece. Cut along the lines.

5. Use one of the squares as a pattern to cut 1 1/2'' squares out of the bottom corners of the lining pieces and the lower pocket pieces only (not the 9 1/2'' x 14'' upper pocket pieces).

Sewing the pockets:

(all seam allowances are 1/2'')

1. Place two lower pocket pieces right sides together and pin.

2. Sew along the curved edge.

3. To make this curved edge look as smooth and professional as possible: Press the seam open. Clip along the seam allowance on both sides, about every inch or so.

4. Fold the pocket with the fabric wrong sides together and press the top edge. Topstitch around the top edge 1/8'' from the edge.

5. Repeat Steps 1-4 to make all 4 exterior pockets.

6. Fold the 11'' x 12'' interior slip pocket piece in half, right sides together (with the 11'' edges together). Sew around the three raw edges, leaving a 4''opening for turning.

7. Clip the corners. Turn the pocket right side out and press it flat. Topstitch along one of the long edges - this will be the top of the pocket.

8. Pin the slip pocket to one of the lining pieces, centered and about 3'' from the top curve.

9. Sew around the bottom and side edges of the pocket to secure it to the lining. Then sew up the middle of the pocket to divide it into 2.

Continue reading the Tote With Many Pockets Tutorial in Part 2

View original
  • Love
  • Save
    3 loves
    Forgot Password?
    Add a blog to Bloglovin’
    Enter the full blog address (e.g.
    We're working on your request. This will take just a minute...