Simple Oversized Tote Bag with French Seams

The warmer weather we have been enjoying has reminded me that summer is coming fast, and I have a few projects to knock out before it arrives.  This easy, jumbo tote bag was first on my list.  Last summer, whenever we went to the pool, I had to stuff all of our towels, goggles, water bottles, etc. in several different bags because I didn't have one that would hold everything.  It drove me crazy!!  This year, I determined that I would make a large tote that could hold all we need for a trip to the pool.

I had some leftover upholstery fabric from my toddler bed project, and figured that it would make a pretty good tote.  I decided to make this tote unlined, but with french seams for a nice, finished look inside.

Here is what I did:

Cut two pieces of fabric 5" x 28"
Cut one large piece of fabric 26" x 40"

 Press the 5" x 28" pieces of fabric in half, lengthwise

 Unfold, and press each side to meet the center line.

Fold in half, along original pressed line, and press again.
Stitch down both sides.  Clip threads.  These will be your handles/straps.

Take the large piece of fabric and fold down the short edges 1/2 inch to the inside.  Press.

Fold over 1/2 " again and press.  Use steam if possible, this will help the folds stay in place.

Measure in about 7" from the outside and insert one side of the strap underneath the fold.

Flip the strap up and pin in place.  Repeat on the other side with the other side of the strap.  Then, repeat on the opposite side with the remaining strap.  I like to put a couple of extra pins in along the fold to keep it in place while sewing.

Stitch along the bottom edge of the fold and then the top edge.  This will finish the top of the bag and secure the straps in place.

Fold the bag in half wrong sides together, so the top edges and handles meet.  It will look something like this.    Pin in place along the sides making sure that the top edges meet exactly.  Clip all threads.

Now this is where we do our french seams.  If you have never done french seams before, don't let them intimidate you.  They are very easy, just a little counterintuitive at first.

Stitch a 1/4 inch seam along the sides of the bag starting from the top.  Clip threads.

Turn the bag inside out and work out the corners and the seam as well as you can.  Press.

Stitch along the sides using a 1/2 " seam, making sure you backstitch at the beginning and ending of both seam lines.

Turn the bag right side out, work out the corners and press.  The bag is now complete.

And the inside has a nice finished look with no ragged edges.

All our big beach towels fit in there with plenty of room to spare.

Just what I needed and so easy!