free-motion patchwork quick sewing project quilting

Charm pack tote bag with inside pocket tutorial

This tote bag is based on Mill House Inn Tote Bag. I used charm squares instead, adjusted measurements and added a pocket.

If you have made a tote bag using this tutorial, why don’t you share your pictures on this Flickr group? Or upload them to Instagram and tag me with @teresadownunder

16 charms – I used Verna by Kate Spain
1/3 yard matching fabric for the bottom of the bag and the handles
1/4 yard of matching fabric for the bow and the loop closure
1/2 yard of matching fabric for the lining
Scrap matching fabric for the inside pocket
1 self covered button with the bottom fabric
2 pieces of batting

Verna by Kate Spain for Moda

Stitch the charm squares in two rows and then the rows together.

You will end up with 2 rectangles measuring measuring 18.5in x 9.5in. Measure the width of the rectangle now before you cut the next rectangles for precision sake.

From the matching fabric cut 2 more 8in x 18.5in rectangles from the matching fabric to form the bottom of the bag and 2 pieces of 21in x 4in for the handles.

Stitch both the charms rectangle and the bottom of the bag rectangle together to make the sides of the bag.

Iron the handles in half all along and then fold each side inside and iron again. Stitch close to the edge of each handle.

Place the side of the bag on a piece of batting and quilt. I used stipple quilting. When finished trim batting off both pieces.

Place both sides of the bag right sides together and stitch around the sides and bottom. Make sure the charm packs corner are in line.

To make the bow, cut a 3in  x 42in piece of fabric from the bow fabric. Fold in half  with right sides together and iron.  Cut both ends off at a 45 degree angle and sew the sides and bottom leaving one of the angle cuts open to turn. Turn inside out and stitch the open side. Iron flat

This is what the strip looks like.

Attach to the bag placing the stripe in alignment with the bottom fabric but overlapping 1/4in with the charms side.

Find the middle of the stripe by folding the stripe in half length wise to find the middle and mark. Also mark the middle of the back of the bag where the second and third charm squares meet. Now fold the fabric in half length wise, this just helps with making sure it’s centered on the bag when you pin it.  Pin the stripe to the bag lining it up to the bottom fabric and overlapping the charm squares part by 1/4in.  When you get to the middle in the other side of the bag, tie a knot.

Sew the stripe on to the bag using a 1/8in seam allowance and sewing down the top and bottom of the stripe. Sew up to one inch before the knot.

Turn bag inside out and make a mark 2 1/4in on each side from the corner. Then fold the bag making both marks match. Cut across and stitch leaving a 1/4in seam allowance.

Pin at cut at the mark so it looks like this…………sew closed using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Do this on both right and left sides of bag.

Making the lining, pocket and loop closure

To make the pocket see How to sew a pocket tutorial.

Cut 2 17.5in x 17.5in squares.

Place both pieces right side together and sew around the sides and bottom. Leave 4in opening on one of the sides to turn bag inside out.

Cut a rectangle measuring 6.5in x 4in for the loop closure. Make as per handles instructions. Fold and stitch as per picture.

Attach the handles and loop closure

Pin handles on the middle of charm squares 2 and 3. Pin loop closure in the middle of the handles on the back of the bag.

Attach lining to bag

Put the entire tote bag inside the lining so that the right side of bag and right side of lining is together. Line up the tops of fabric and pin a few times. Now sew along the top all the way around using 1/4″ seam allowance.

Pull the outside of bag through the 4in opening in the lining.
Stitch the 4in opening in the lining. Neatly push the lining in the bag.
Now stitch all around the top edge of the bag leaving a 1/8in seam allowance.
Sew the button onto the front.
Knot detail
Back of the bag
Inside of the bag

See my new tutorial for a similar tote bag with charm squares.

Tote bag tutorial

Expandable tote bag


  1. This is REALLY pretty! Saw you on Craft Gossip this morning (I’m the H&G editor over there 🙂 ) I wonder if you would email me, i have a question for you 🙂


  2. Pingback: Anonymous
  3. Thanks for this pattern, I just tweaked this pattern for a bag that used one row of quilt squares around the top instead of two rows of charm squares and it turned out very nice. Thanks so much for a great pattern


  4. I tried to make this bag this weekend but didn’t have charm squares so I needed to cut blocks from fabric. However I didn’t get the maths to work. If I used 5″ squares I ended up with a rectangle measuring 18½” x 9½” and not 17½” as in your tutorial. What was the size of your charm squares?


  5. You’re right, if you use the correct seam allowances you should end up with 18 1/2 before putting the bag together. With my machine I’m always short. I’ll add a note to the tutorial. Thanks for pointing that out.


  6. Love this bag just wondering how do you print this smaller right now it is saying it would be 22 pages on my Mac thanks for your help


  7. Sorry but the printout will be long because of the many pictures. You could select the tutorial, copy it and paste it on a word processor such as Work or Notepad and remove the pictures before printing.


  8. I’ve been working on this tote bag off and on for awhile…I’m slow:) But I just realized I don’t understand the point of the button–how does the loop closure work? I thought you might put a buttonhole in the loop, but I don’t see that mentioned anywhere.


  9. Thank you! I guess I wasn’t looking closely enough to realize the loop closure already had an opening. Much easier than making a buttonhole!


  10. I am making this tote but it doesn’t say what you use as seam allowance when you sew the bag together. One of your other patchwork totes says to use 1/4″ seams. Is this one the same?


  11. Made this bag yesterday to practice some basic machine quilting skills. Came out beautifully. Thank you for the fantastic tutorial!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love this tote but must say I used the 5 inch blocks and my diminsions are not coming out correctly so I am totall lost…

    Liked by 1 person

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