Totally Totebag

by Leigh O’Brien

Create a darling little tote bag out of one sheet of cardstock.


  • One 8.5" x 11" sheet of cardstock
  • Scoring tool
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Large background stamp or stamps of your choice
  • Inkpad - color of your choice
  • Red Line Tape (or strong adhesive of choice)
  • 1/16" hole punch
  • 12 small brads
  • Brown or contrasting ink and marker for stitching and sponging edges (optional)
  • Embellishments


  1. Step 1

    Download pdf template file. Print directly onto cardstock or print on white paper and photocopy onto cardstock. (Template will print in a very light gray color and lines will not be seen on your finished project.)

    Totally Totebag Template

  2. Step 2

    Score template on all dotted lines.

  3. Step 3

    Cut out pattern on solid lines. Save scraps to use for bag handles and side straps.

  4. Step 4

    Turn pattern face down and stamp background on front and back sides as well as thinner side pieces.

  5. Step 5

    Fold down top 1/2" on both front and back of totebag towards stamped side of bag. Adhere with red line tape and crease fold with bone folder.
    You now have a contrasting top edge since it's plain and not stamped.

    Add stitch lines to edges as shown in the sample. Use contrasting ink to sponge edges of all sides. Set aside.

  6. Step 6

    From cardstock scraps, cut side straps - 2 pieces (1" x 2.5") and handles - 2 pieces (1/2" x 6").

    Add stitch lines to edges as shown in the sample. Use contrasting ink to sponge edges of all sides.

  7. Step 7

    Measure 3/4" from left edge of top front of bag and adhere one end of handle.
    Measure 3/4" from right edge of top front of bag and adhere other end of handle as shown in photo.
    Punch 1/16" hole and insert brad to decorate and reinforce handle. Repeat for the back to the bag.

  8. Step 8

    Measure 3/4" down from top edge of front of bag and put right end of side strap approx. 3/8" overlapping left edge of the front of the totebag.
    Punch 1/16" holes in corners of side strap and totebag front at the same time. Do not adhere at this time.
    Repeat this step for each side of both the front and back of totebag and for each end of the side strap.

  9. Step 9

    Fold small flaps on sides of totebag inwards as if your were now making the bag. Use punched holes to mark where holes need to be punched on those small inside flaps. Make sure to mark all four flaps. Punch 1/16" holes.

  10. Step 10

    Hold one end of side strap over edge of front side of totebag - lining up holes in side strap, front of bag, and inside flap. Insert brads.

  11. Step 11

    Repeat with other side of bag front.

  12. Wrap side straps around to back of bag, again lining up all punched holes - and insert brads.

    It will help if you crease the small inward "v" on the sides of the bag when inserting brads on the back side.

  13. Step 12 (Optional)

    Adhere photo turn, button, or buckle to top fold of front of bag as a clasp.

  14. Step 13

    Decorate straps of the bag with ribbon or add a big flower to the front. The decorating portion is up to you! Fill with raffia or goodies and have fun!



    Patterned Paper Tote
    Try the template with a two sided piece of patterned scrapbook paper for a cool look for holiday favors.

Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Totally Totebag. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

I was literally looking for this template 2 days ago. You must have read my mind! I LOVE this tote!!!!
Ann Marie  |  Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 2:49 PM
Love this bag!! Maybe you/I will be seeing one at Halloween? You have to find something to do with all that Halloween paper and this would make a really cute little candy holder or something. :o)
Lynn  |  Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 4:11 PM
I just love the totally-tote box,I want to make it with Thank U cards.
DeAnna  |  Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 5:09 PM
I went to the template but it will not print
It say adobe and then nothing is there any other way to sent the template I have never
had a problem before
Sandra Hines  |  Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 7:41 PM
Hi Sandra! I'm sorry you're having trouble. If you email me I will send it to you.

[email protected]
Lydia  |  Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 7:55 PM
Fabulous tote, thanks for the PDF and tutorial!! Can't wait to make one!
Sharon field  |  Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 5:35 AM
Real cute!
Lynda J. White  |  Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 6:12 AM
Super cute tote. I'll definitely give this a try. Off to download the pattern. Thanks for the tutorial.
Eveline van Heijst  |  Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 1:52 PM
This is freaking ca-ute! Definitely going to try this soon!
Ann  |  Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 4:08 PM
Not sure why some are having problems with the pattern. (My sister told me she could see the document but it wouldn't print.) Sorry, I'm not so computer literate these days and I can't solve any issues out there. Maybe Lydia can help...or Beate. Thanks for the compliments and giving it a try, girls!
Leigh OBrien  |  Thu Sep 30, 2010 at 5:25 PM
Could you tell me how to download the file for the template to do the darling Totally totebag? I love the bag and would love to make it. Thanks so much!
Judy Whitehead  |  Fri Oct 1, 2010 at 7:41 AM
Hi, pattern not printing at all for me, any ideah why. Would love to have the pattern, any other way to get it. Thanks
Letha  |  Fri Oct 1, 2010 at 7:05 PM
waar kan ik deze dounloaden
trijntje  |  Sat Oct 2, 2010 at 4:10 PM
why can't I get the template to print? Cute gift bag but can't make it w/o dimensions. Can anyone help??? Thxs
Pam Skidmore  |  Sun Oct 3, 2010 at 4:16 PM
Oh my goodness, this is the cutest bag, I Love It. I made one but I had such a hard time with the sides so I just used stick tape to adhere the sides together, then I added the paper and a brad after. So much easier for me. Thank you so much for the template. LOVE IT.
Lisa  |  Mon Oct 4, 2010 at 8:36 PM
Oh my gosh, this is adorable! I just came across it. Thank you so much for many talented people here!!
LoriL  |  Fri Oct 8, 2010 at 8:06 AM
when my daughter sees these she will have to have them for her wedding. now if she would only decide on her colors we could make them before the last minute
Carla Madden  |  Fri Oct 8, 2010 at 10:08 AM
LOVE it! Just tried it out while waiting for a painting project to easy & so cute!!!
debbie  |  Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 3:54 PM
where can i find the pdf template for this totally tote bag? I just love it-thanks ady
ady hales  |  Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 5:26 AM
Hi Ady,
Check the bottom of step one. Click on Totally Totebag Template and the pdf file will load.

Hugs and smiles
Beate  |  Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 8:01 AM

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