Ruffled Tote Tutorial

Happy Thursday, everyone! I am so excited to share something that I created – and because it worked for ME, I want to share HOW I did it so you can see if it will work for YOU! Here is what we are going to make:

Here is what you’ll need to make it:
I found my fabric at a thrift store for $0.99! SCORE! I’ll have enough to actually make 2 bags, or ONE bag and one of something else. We’ll see 🙂 I chose the grey fabric for the outside of the bag, so I cut my 5 strips (for the ruffles) and the long strip (for the handles) out of the grey. If you want your ruffles out of a contrasting fabric, just cut those 5 strips out of that.


First we are going to work on the ruffles. Take one of the 5 strips of fabric and fold in the edges about 1/4 of an inch. Iron flat, then straight stitch down the length to secure the fold. Repeat on the opposite side. This is just to make the ruffle edges more finished. If you want your ruffles to be a little more “shabby” just skip this step and leave the raw edges on the strips of fabric.

Now we are going to turn this flat, straight strip of fabric into a ruffle by changing your machine to the longest stitch it can do. Then stitch straight down the middle of the strip of fabric. Do NOT backstitch!
Your strip should look like this:
Now, grab onto the end of the TOP thread and slowly start to pull the fabric so it gathers. It should look like this:
You will want to gather the full length of the strip, then pin one end to the edge of the RIGHT side of one of the outer bag pieces. Adjust the gathered strip so it fits the width of the panel with the ends of the ruffle sticking out slightly on each end. Pin all along. Oh, and repeat with the other 4 strips. Leave about a 1/2″ to 1″ space in between each ruffle.
When you are done with all five ruffles, your panel should look something like this:
Switch your machine back to a regular stitch and stitch along each ruffle, stitching it right onto the fabric beneath it.
Okay, the hardest part is done! Now, take that ruffly piece of fabric and pin it to the matching fabric panel with RIGHT sides together. Pin the two long edges and the bottom. Repeat with the 2 lining pieces. Then stitch along the sides and bottom.

Before we stitch the insides of the bag to the outsides, we want to finish off the corners so we get more of a flat bottom to the bag. To do this, simple pinch the corner about a 1/2″ to 1″  in like so:

Then stitch across. Repeat with the other corner of the lining, and the two corners of the outside bag piece.
Now we need to do the handle before we sew all of the pieces together. Iron the 44in peice in half (width wise) then open it up again so you can see the ironed crease:
Fold one edge in to meet the crease in the middle. Iron down.
Repeat with the opposite side so the two unfinished edges meet in the middle.
Now fold the entire thing in half again so that you now have a thin 44″ strip with no rough edges showing, like so:
Top stitch along each edge down the entire length of the strip. When that is done, cut the strip in half to form two 22″ strips. These will be  your handles!
Okay, this part is hard to explain, but easy to do. Trust me 🙂 Turn your lining “bag” right side out and slip inside the (still inside out) outer bag piece. Line up the seams as well as you can. Then, take one of the handle pieces, loop it into a “u” shape, and stick the curved part in between the RIGHT sides of the lining and the outer piece so it is in between, like so:
Then, take the two ends of that one handle piece and pin them about 2-3″ from each corner, with the edges slightly sticking out above the raw edges of the lining and outer pieces. Repeat on the other side of the bag with the other handle piece. Make sure the handle isn’t slipped into the MIDDLE of the four layers of fabric, but is in between the outermost layer and the lining piece on each side. I hope this makes sense. Now you will stitch along the edges- all around the bag – leaving about a 2″ gap so you can turn the bag right-side out again!
Turn your bag right side out. It should now look something like this:
Stuff the lining into the bag and carefully fold the edges in the gap. Iron the whole thing flat, then top stitch all around the top edge of the bag – stitching closed the gap while you are doing it.
Lastly, carefully pick out the basting stitch out of the ruffles with a seam ripper so you only have one stitch holding them on to the bag.
Voila! You are finished your cute ruffled bag! If you make one, I’d love for you to share a link so I can see it! You can change the dimensions of the bag by simply changing the size you cut the four larger pieces of fabric, then making sure you adjust the length of the ruffle strips to match 🙂 Happy sewing!


13 thoughts on “Ruffled Tote Tutorial

  1. I made this! I added a pocked for my phone and keys and I must have made my ruffles bigger than yours because I could only fit 4, but other than that I followed your tutorial exactly and it was so easy! You can see it at (I'm just starting my blog and this is the first post!)


  2. Hi! I found this via Pinterest and made one last night. I made it for my niece who is turning one on Saturday, so I shrunk it down to a 9×7 with only three ruffles, and made the handles slightly thinner. I LOVE it. I almost don't want to give it up! I can't wait to give it to her this weekend. Thanks so much for the great tutorial!


  3. I made mine using a jersey sheet from a thrift store (do not recommend this–way to stretchy!) and then double lined it in order to make it extra strong. I am student teaching so I have a lot of stuff to carry to school and back everyday. Here is the link for my Facebook photo of the exterior and interior visible lining. I dreamed about the lining fabric after I saw it for the first time and went back two weeks later to buy it. I am so in love!!!


    Hope you like it!


  4. I just made this bag for a friend and it came out perfectly! I used a cute black and white pattern fabric. I also added interfacing to give the bag a bit more structure. Thank you for such a great tutorial!!


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