The "Biggie Bag": a vinyl and fabric tote turorial

Brought to you by my lovely mom-BuzyBette, a genius sewist... and by hungryhippie, the enthusiastic-wanna-be-genius-someday-sewist.

This is a longer tutorial than my norm. Keep in mind it only takes about an hour to 90 minutes to make this tote. My goal with making tutorials is to help the beginner sewist make every day items without the frustrating heartache I once suffered.  :)

Now let's get sewin'!

1.Cut your fabrics and vinyl.
                  *two pieces outside fabric 22x22 inches (I used heavier weight canvas.)
                  *two pieces interior fabric 22x22
                  *two pieces vinyl 22x22
                  *two pocket pieces (mine are half moon shapes-5 inches across at the top and 6" deep)
                  *one half moon shape vinyl for pocket-same size as pocket pieces.

2. Purchase (or make) extra wide double fold bias tape. I used almost all of one package of Wrights Bias Tape. Find it at Joanns or Hobby Lobby.  If you decide to make it yourself, go ahead and pre-make 3 yards worth.

3. Purchase two pieces of 77 inch long webbing--I always use heavy duty cotton webbing, as I find the polyester webbing can be thinner and cheaper feeling. (Total - 140 inches or almost 4 yards).

4. Find the sewing machine's teflon (NONSTICK) foot, a pair of heavy duty scissors, and matching threads.

Use clamps or clothes pins to hold the vinyl to the fabric without piercing it with sewing needles. Needle holes don't disappear on vinyl, be mindful of this. Sometimes I don't care and use needles anyway--but just a word of warning first. :o)

Here we go.

1. Clamp your vinyl piece to a outside fabric piece and sew it on. Do this for both outside fabric pieces.


Don't forget to change your sewing foot--it will help SO much when dealing with vinyl.

2. Unfold two pieces of binding tape and attach to the top of the outside pieces, over all layers. (In other words, sandwich the bias tape around the vinyl and fabric, this encloses the raw edges nicely.)

Sew along the bottom edge, catching both layers.

Now sew on the webbing. I cut two pieces of 70 inch webbing. (Measure against your own body to confirm proper placement.)

 Measure four inches in from the left side, four inches in from the right side. These are the measurement lines the webbing should line up with to be centered. (Make a tiny mark with a marker, covering it up as you sew on the webbing.)

 Line up the end of one piece at the very bottom of the bag side you're working with.  Pin in place, and sew. Be mindful the webbing is not twisting in any way. The webbing ends must be to the very bottom of the bag pieces. (See pictures.)

Set these pieces away for now, and let's make the mobile phone pocket.

Here I'm cutting my pocket pieces out. I fold the fabric piece, and cut this shape:
cut two pieces

Now you will have two pieces shaped like this:

Pin them right sides together and sew along the curved edge. Leave the top open for flipping right side out.

Pink the curved edge so it will sit properly.

 (Or you could "notch"--but that takes longer.)

Flip right side out again:

Press firmly.
Pressing helps make seams "sit down all pretty-like". 

 (Like that English? ha)

Don't be like me and skip this step--it took me a couple years to realize the importance of pressing.
 Not to be confused with ironing.

Place Vinyl piece on top of pocket, the side that's facing OUT. Pin bias tape over this, carefully, around the curved edge. Hold in place with clamps while sewing.
(Yes friends, I took this picture before placing the vinyl on..oops!)

Once the curved edge is finished, place bias tape over the top edge and encase the entire pocket. Tuck in the end bits for tidiness.

Measuring to center the pocket-pin in of the front side of the bag piece and sew on carefully.
Go slow-it's a lot of layers to be sewing through.

Ok...deep breath. Grab a coke.

Place the two outside pieces of the bag RIGHT sides together and clamp or pin in place. We are sewing the side seams here, as well as a bottom seam.

Be sure you have the top--at the top.

Sew down each side and across the bottom. Use 1/2 seams at a minimum. It's probably a good idea to double stitch these seams if this bag is going to carry books or heavier items.

Now for the boxing. (ugh-difficult to explain, but I'll try!)

Pinch in 2 inches from the bottom and side seams on one end. Pin, then mark. Sew this several times for a strong corner bottom end. Do the same with the other side.

Confused? Look at these close-ups:

After sewing this, trim off the excess.

Repeat this step for other box corner. We will visit this step again for the interior of the bag.

Grab the two pieces of interior fabrics and pin them right sides together. Sew down each side and across the bottom.

Fold down one inch on the top portion and press.

Make the boxed corners just as we did for the exterior part. Measure in two inches, mark,sew,cut.

Pin this carefully inside the bag, wrong sides together and sew slowly.

Trim threads--and give a whoop!


Great job, thanks for staying with me.


  1. Oh my..did you just upload this post THIS SECOND?? haha..just finished reading your peg bag one...LOVED the fabrics in there Nat (do you like Nat? ;))...gorgeous! And this bag is super cool!
    well off to bed...it's 12.44am!!!
    ITALY IN TWO DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!
    PACE FUORI..hehehe
    jess xx

  2. Cute! Looks like you could swap out some materials and make an approximation of this bag that's been making the blog rounds.

  3. Coming from a fellow sewer...sewist?! I am looking for some "refresher tips" before I start on my own "made up" bag! You gave Excellent instructions. Simple, clear, concise! And reasons why, is a nice touch! So many online tutorials omit steps like interfacing, even though a fellow sewer can "see" they did certain steps to make their product look "nicer" in a way. Thank you for being complete! PS - glad you noted it's pressing, not ironing! Too cute!!

    1. Thanks so much Cathy! :D Always lovely to hear from a fellow sewist. xoxo


I appreciate every comment, thanks so much for taking the time. It means A LOT to me. :)