Wednesday, April 5, 2017

How to sew an Insulated Tote bag

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With Spring and Summer approaching, I always feel the need for an insulated tote bag for the groceries especially milk and yogurt. When the temperature gets warmer and hotter in summer, we couldn't stay out for long or add unplanned spots(Usually craft stores :P) to our grocery shopping trip as we feel milk and yogurt will go bad in the heat so we always come home to unload the groceries and then continue with our other shopping trips. You may wonder but our grocery trips usually include two to three shops and they are usually around 15 to 20 miles around the town(with each shop on either side of the town sometimes i.e Target around 3 miles from home on the east and Indian grocery shop around 7 miles to the west) with 3 to 4 hours. So, I decided to sew an insulated tote bag with leftover fabrics from Floor lamp makeover and How to sew oven mitt. Let's see how.

Materials Required:
Printed cotton for outer - approx 3/4 yard
Interfacing - approx 3/4 yard
Nylon (I used sports nylon breathable fabric from JoAnn fabrics) -approx 3/4 yard
Insul-bright - approx 3/4 yard
Cotton webbing for handle - 4 yards
Zipper(Two-way) - 22"
Hand sewing needle
Sewing machine
Matching thread

Step 1: Measure and cut the fabrics according to the desired size. I cut the fabrics (Outer printed cotton, interfacing, nylon, and insul-bright) about 20" X 21". Iron the interfacing onto the outer fabric.

Step 2: Attach the insul-bright to the inner nylon fabric. To so this, just make random stitches both horizontally and vertically to secure the insul-bright layer to the inner nylon fabric. You can also measure and make perfect quilt-like fabric but I just went with the random look. 

Step 3: This is optional. I thought I will add a small pocket in the front of one of the outer panel. To do this, cut 7" X 10" fabric from the printed cotton, fold and Iron the sides and top part. Stitch the top of the pocket and then attach the pocket fabric to the center bottom of the already prepared front panel and sew the sides to attach the pocket. 

Step 4: Cut the handles for each side and sew them onto the each of the outer panels by centering them. One one of the panels where the pocket is attached, place the handle in such a way that the sides of the pocket are covered. Stitch around 12" to 14" inches from the bottom and make a 1" square with a cross on the top for strong hold. I also added a zig-zag stitch for added strength at the top of the each side of the handle. Repeat the same on the other side. 

Also, make sure the handle is aligned properly without the twist so that when you lift the bag it is perfect and not twisted handles. 

Step 5: Attach the zipper, with right sides facing each other and the zipper is sandwiched in between make a stitch. Repeat the same on the other side. Once it is done, do a top stitch to secure. For the detailed picture of this, you can refer to the Step 5, here

Step 6: Now, combine the outer panel together and the inner panel together so that each of the right sides is facing together and the zipper is facing towards the inner panel. Stitch along the corner with 1/2" seam allowance starting at the inner panel and ending at the inner panel with around 5" of the gap. Refer step 5, here for the pictures. Make sure the zipper is open before you do this step. 

Step 7: Square the bottom bag around 4" on both the sides of the outer and inner panel. Cut the excess and turn the whole thing inside out. Sew the gap using the ladder stitch with hand sewing needle. And then the bag is complete. 

What do you think? This is so simple and easy to sew and it is perfect for the tasks like grocery shopping, picnics and Instant pot parties(Trending nowadays). You can see how well this big bag holds the rice cooker perfectly. I do not have an Instant pot so for your reference I have shown a 12 cup Aroma rice cooker for the size reference. As I have used two-way it is so easy to close the bag with the rice cooker inside. And also it is easy to carry a lot of grocery items inside so the loading/unloading the groceries from car to home is much easier. 

Share what you think in the comments, As always I will be happy to hear from you. 

Other Bag projects you might like:


  1. Love that bag! Adding to my Pinterest queue. I'd love for you to join our link up To Grandmas House We Go. It opens Tuesday nights around 11pm ET.

  2. Oh, yes!!! I will definitely be making one of these. Thanks for this great pattern and tutorial! Have a great weekend, Sahana!

  3. Just adorable Sahana! Thanks for sharing at #homemattersparty

  4. This DIY insulated tote bag is a great project to make and use this summer. #HomeMattersParty

  5. That is such a nice bag! I wish I could sew that good! #homemattersparty

  6. You will get a lot of use out of that bag. Great project and adorable fabric. #HomeMattersParty

  7. I have some of that insulated stuff, I just haven't gotten around to doing anything with it. Thanks for the instructions. #HomeMAttersPArty

  8. Practical and pretty, too, Sahana. As always, a great tutorial.

  9. Like the idea of an insulated bag for those cold or frozen foods or transporting a pot. I have some insulate fabric. Think I will try this. I give you 5*****.

  10. The How to Sew an Insulated Tote Bag tutorial is a gem for craft enthusiasts. With clear, easy-to-follow instructions and accompanying visuals, it guides users through the process of creating a practical and stylish insulated tote. From selecting materials to sewing techniques, this guide is a must-have for anyone looking to craft their own functional and eco-friendly bag.
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