Book Tote Style Bag – Free Sewing Tutorial

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Said to have originated from the tote bags at bookstores, the secret behind the popularity of the book tote is its wide gusset and structured form. The design of the featured bag is inspired from such book totes. It is attractive because it can be used for a variety of occasions and purposes. You can carry not just books but also a laptop or even change of clothes for an overnight trip.

The fabric used for this bag is from the “KONiTT” series, a textile brand that was born from listening to firsthand ideas of handicraft artists. For outer fabrics, “Happa” with sprinkles of leaves, flowers, and berries is used, while “Shima Shima” with loose-looking stripes is featured as the lining fabric and handles. The “Happa” is sheeting and the “Shima” is oxford. These 100% cotton fabrics are both easy to cut and sew, perfect for bag making.

Design & Work:Satomi Takei

Fabric shown for this sample: (Panel Outer Fabric)YK-11030-1A
(Lining Fabric, Handle Outer Fabric)YK-11040-1B


  • Fabric (Panel Outer Fabric):90cm×30㎝
  • Fabric (Lining Fabric, Handle Outer Fabric):100㎝×80㎝
  • Fabric (Bottom Outer Fabric, Opening Fabric, Handle Lining Fabric(#9.5 Canvas)): 55㎝×80㎝
  • Fusible Interfacing: 90㎝×55㎝
  • Rivet: 0.7cm diameter x Eight pairs
  • Tag: One piece

about 24cm (l) about 32cm (w) 10cm (gusset)

We interviewed Satomi about her creation:。
Kokka Fabric (KF): What did you think of the fabric you used for this project?
The beige color of both “Happa” and “Shima Shima” gives a soft and gentle impression. By adding the dark beige of No. 9.5 canvas, it sharpens the look and creates a gradation of beige tones.

KF: Can you tell us any special elements or ideas that you incorporated into this creation?
For the handle, the light blue lines of “Shima Shima” were specifically selected so that it matches the blue berries of the “Happa” fabric. With vertical stitches on the gusset, it helps to create a stylish square shape.

KF: What are some tips for making this bag?
Heavy weight interfacing attached on a thin fabric changes the look dramatically, so choose the thickness you like for the interfacing.
When stitching the gusset, you may find it difficult depending on the thickness of the fabric. In that case, turn the pulley slowly by hand to advance the needle.
Attaching a magnetic button at the opening or creating a pocket on the lining bag will make this bag even more convenient.

KF: How should we incorporate this bag into one’s styling?
This versatile tote bag can be matched with a casual wardrobe or for a formal look. The size is perfect for the upcoming season when you have more chances for outings. Enjoy working on this project.

KF: Thank you very much, Satomi! Here are sewing instructions along with step by step photos from her. Enjoy crafting!



Cut the fabrics and prepare the materials.
※ Adhere fusible interfacing on all the body fabrics, KONiTT “Happa” and “Shima Shima” pieces, except for the handle.


With the front sides facing each other, sew together the handle on one side. Turn it over as shown and fold the other side. (All seam allowance – 0.7cm)

Fold it carefully. Hold it with the clips and apply edge stitches.


Handles are ready.


With the fronts sides facing each other, sew together the body and opening fabric.

Apply stitches from the front. Repeat the same process on the other side.


Attach the handle along the dotted red line.


With the front sides facing each other, sew together the body and the bottom.

Apply stitches from the outer side on the front and back of the bottom fabric.


If you are attaching a tag to the body, please do so at this stage.


Fold in half and sew both sides.


Make a 10cm gusset. Cut off the seam at 1cm from the stich line.


Sew together the lining fabrics at the bottom. Press the seam open and apply two lines of stitches from the outer side.
Make a bag following the same steps for the outer bag as in Steps 8 and 9. ※ Don’t forget leave an opening for turning!


With the front sides facing each other, put together the outer bag and lining bag as shown. Sew them together at the top opening.

Turn it inside out using the opening and align the shape. Apply stitches all the way around the top. Close the opening for turning on the lining bag.


Fold the gusset and hold it with the clip.

Apply stitches on the folded portion.


Fold the center of the handle in half and sew together for about 10cm.


Attach the rivets to finish!

◎Sewing Tutorial

◎Sewing Tutorial(PDF format / A4 size)

KOKKA’s official online shop information

Kokka Fabrics is the official online store run by Kokka USA, Inc. We specialize in printed fabrics but also have a wide range of high-quality solid textiles.
We ship to the United States and Canada from our warehouse located in Torrance, California.

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