Canvas Tote Bag with Pockets

Created By:

Trish Stitched

Skill Level: Intermediate

This canvas tote bag is a great afternoon project and wonderful to carry everywhere you go! This tote features a front pocket, two interior pockets, and a flat bottom. Tote bag is unlined (seams finished with serging!) and is made with pre-made straps, so it comes together quickly!

Janome Supplies Required

You will need:

  • ½ yard - Two coordinating canvas fabrics – I’m using “natural” and green
  • Fat Quarter Size - Printed cotton fabric for front pocket – I’m using cotton canvas which is a little thicker than quilting cotton.
  • 2.5 yards (90”) of 1 ¼” strapping or belting – I’m using “natural” to match my canvas (this is for 23” straps, may need more for longer straps)
  • Fabric marking tool
  • Other sewing tools including scissors, pins and clips, tape measure and ruler

This project is best made on a serger and sewing machine, but raw edges can be stitched with zig zag stitch on sewing machine.

Machines used for this project include the Janome AirThread 2000d and the Janome Memory Craft 15000.


Cut out Fabric Pieces

Below is a list of measurements and fabrics to cut out and number of pieces needed.

Body (Green Canvas): 15.75” x 11.75” (x2)

Bag Bottom (Natural Canvas): 15.75” x 9.75” (x1)

Interior Pocket (Natural Canvas): 14” x 9.5” (x1)

Exterior Pocket (Printed Canvas): 10” length x 9” height (x1)

Straps (Natural Strapping): 45” long (x2)

(Tip: 45” straps will make your straps 23” long. You can wait to cut the length of your straps until sewing them on to decide the best length for you!)



Serge raw edges

After cutting out fabric pieces, serge all edges on each piece. Be sure not to cut off any fabric, we are serging our raw edge to prevent fraying over time. Serging not necessary on straps.




Prep and Sew Pockets

Exterior Pocket:

On top edge of pocket, fold ¼” to wrong side (serged stitching). Press and fold another ¼” enclosing the serged edge. Stitch close to bottom fold on sewing machine.





Mark center bottom on front pocket (5”) and center bottom on one body piece (7 7/8”). Match markings and baste pocket on bottom and sides at ¼”, leaving top of pocket open.



Interior Pocket:

On one short edge, fold serged edge ¼”, press, and fold again. Stitch close to bottom fold on sewing machine.


On each long side, measure 5.5” from folded edge. Fold up using the markings as your fold line. Press the fold and baste sides.




Fold sides to wrong side at ¼” and stitch. (Optional: fold sides again to enclose serged edge, depending on fabric weight. If you are using canvas for your interior pocket, it will be made thicker and harder to stitch).





With an erasable fabric marking tool, mark center on pocket and stitch to create two pockets.




Fold top of second body piece down ¼” to inside. From folded edge, mark  ½”.




Measure midpoint of line on top edge of body and midpoint on top edge of interior pocket. Match midpoints and fold top edge on ½” line, enclosing serged pocket edge. Stitch close to bottom folded edge.




Repeat top hem on front of bag.



Add Straps

I’m using pre-made strapping that is 1 ¼” wide. Test length by pinning one end of strap to bottom of body and measure ideal length for your tote. Cutting a 45” strap will leave 23” free to wear. When you decide on ideal length, cut 2 pieces of strapping in the same length.

On the front of body bag piece, measure and mark 2” from the short serged edge sides.


Lay one piece of strapping along line, covering the serged front pocket side. Match edge of strap to bottom edge of bag body on each side of pocket. Topstitch strapping from bottom of body to top of body, and back to the bottom on each side of the front. Repeat for strap piece on the other side of pocket.

TIP: Keep bobbin thread the same color as your bag body so stitching is not as visible on bag interior.



Repeat strap steps on bag back, again measuring 2” from each side. When sewing the back strap on, watch your pockets don’t get caught in your stitching!





Add Bag Bottom

With right sides together, stitch one long edge of bag bottom to lower edge of bag body. Sew at 3/8”.


Repeat for other side of bag exterior.


Press seams towards bag bottom and topstitch seam.


Stitch Sides

Fold bag in half, right sides together. Pin side seams, matching bottom bag seams and tops.


Stitch bag sides at 3/8”. Reinforce stitching 1 1/8” from bottom of bag.


Make Bag Corners

With bag still wrong sides out, cut bag corners to create flat bottom. Mark and cut 1 1/8” x 1 ½” at each corner.



Create corner by matching side seamline with folded bottom. Stitch seamline at 3/8” and serge the raw edge. (Tip: Reinforce center of seamline, where the side seam lays for extra strength.)






Remove any basting stitching you can see from sewing your front pocket. Turn bag right side out and give a good press. You are finished!

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