Make a small tote bag with children’s artwork

When I was making my Winter Tree Tote, I set my daughter up with her own piece of fabric and paints. Before I knew it, she was working away printing her own little butterfly – how beautiful! So I offered to turn it into her very own mini tote bag. Read on for the full tutorial, and you’ll be able to transform your children’s works of art into their own lovely little bag…so cute.

Before we begin! Have you heard of the Creative Sewing Challenge? Its a monthly challenge that you can sign up to for free; receive monthly prompts, tutorials and ideas to inspire your sewing. All types of sewing welcome, and all types of sewing abilities. Find out more here or sign up below, we’d love to welcome you to our growing community:

And now on to the tutorial, you will need:

  • Plain fabric for your bag (nothing too thin or light – I used some navy linen)
  • Plain fabric for the artwork (I used calico)
  • Fabric paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Newspaper or similar (so your paints don’t mark your table)
  • Paper plate or similar (for mixing your paints)
  • Fabric scissors and pins
  • Thread to match your fabric
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and ironing board

Prepare your fabric; cut 2 rectangles from your bag fabric, 22cm by 25cm. Cut another 2 rectangles for the handles, 35cm by 6cm. Finally, cut a smaller square of calico for your child to paint on, approximately 14cm by 14cm.

First, the artwork! Set out your fabric paints on paper plates, and really its up to your little one as to what they want to paint. My daughter started with some brush strokes…

…then decided to fold her fabric in half…

…and found herself quite delighted with the butterfly that appeared!

Allow your child’s artwork time to dry, and then fix the paints following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Next, stitch the painting to one of your bag fabric rectangles.

Now pin the two rectangles, right sides together. Sew around the edges using a 1.5cm seam allowance. Leave the top edge of the bag open. Press your stitches and neaten the edges (I kept it simple and just used my pinking shears).

Press your handles in half length ways, pin and sew using a 1cm seam allowance.

Use a safety pin to turn each handle right side out, press again and put to one side to work on the body of the bag.

Keeping the bag inside out, fold over the top edge by 4cm and press.

Lift the top edge of the bag back up again, re-fold and press, this time to the fold-line you have just created. You should be folding over by 2cm.

Now fold your fabric back under, using the fold line you have just created. You will have a neat, 2cm hem with all your raw edges tucked under. Tuck your handles under this hem, approximately 4cm from each edge. Jiggle about as needed to make sure they look even, and pin in place.

Sew a line of running stitch around the top of your bag, as close to the inner side of your folded edge as you feel comfortable with. You will be securing the handles in place as well as hemming the top of the bag.

Turn your bag right side out. Fold the handles back on themselves so they are now in the correct position, and pin in place.

Stitch a small square at the bottom of each handle to secure them in place, using your line of existing running stitches to complete the bottom of the square if possible (this just keeps it looking neat).

Ta da! A gorgeous little tote bag, uniquely created by you and the little person in your life. Its a lovely way to showcase their artwork (after all, we only have so much wall space in our homes to display their creations!) And they get to carry around their treasures in a bag of their own design!

Have fun sharing some creative play with your little one. And don’t forget, sign up to the Creative Sewing Challenge today for regular ideas and inspiration to keep your sewing fresh.