Introduction: Duct Tape No-Sew Tote

Picture of Duct Tape No-Sew Tote

Make this unique duct-tape and fabric tote with absolutely no sewing - no kidding!  This project, inspired by the awesome book Simply Sublime Bags by Jodi Kahn, takes less than an hour to whip up, and will garner oohs and ahhs from all who see it!   

With a few simple supplies (get your stapler loaded!), a little time, and absolutely no prior experience needed, you can make your own gorgeous custom tote bag today!

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
You'll need:

  • Fabric - something a bit sturdy works better. I used a donation scrap of what I think was upholstery fabric. I made the bag as big as the scrap would allow, which turned out to be 10"x18"
  • Duct tape - get a color you like to coordinate with your fabric. This was my first go, so I just used what was around. The next one will get something fancy!
  • Scissors to cut your fabric
  • Stapler + staples (oh yes)
  • *Optional (but awesome) - two tiny strong magnets

Step 2: Cut Fabric

Picture of Cut Fabric
Whatever size you decide to go with fold the fabric in half vertically.

  • Cut two squares out of the bottom corners, about 1" high and 1 1/2" wide. If you make a bigger bag, or want it to be wider at the base, increase these measurements.

Step 3: Tape

Picture of Tape
  • Open the fabric, party side down.
  • Start layering strips of duct tape over the wrong side (inside) of the fabric, slightly overlapping each strip.
  • Continue until piece is covered.
  • Trim away excess tape

Step 4: Cut Handle Opening

Picture of Cut Handle Opening
Now you're going to mark where the opening for your handle will be. In this instance, I made a 4"x1" opening, centered near the top. This is how:

  • Fold the fabric in half, party sides together, to mark the center on the tape, 1 1/2" down from the top.
  • Draw a line 2" to each side of this mark, and 1"down on each side. Finish the box by drawing the bottom line.
  • Mark a line horizontally across the center of the box.
  • Make a mark 3/4" in from each side on this line.
  • Draw diagonal lines from the corners to these marks.
  • Repeat on other end.

These are your new cutting lines.

If you ever have sewn, you may recognize how much these look like welt pockets or bound buttonholes.

Step 5: Make Handle

Picture of Make Handle
Now we make the handle.

  • Cut carefully along the new lines you've made.
  • Fold back the flaps and secure with pieces of tape
  • Repeat on other handle

Step 6: Finish Top Edge

Picture of Finish Top Edge
You want to turn the top 1/2" of fabric to the inside and tape down. I did it this way:

  • Lay a piece of tape to cover 1/2" of the top edge on the party side of the fabric.
  • If you're using magnets as a latch, insert them under the tape in the center of the top edge
  • Fold this edge over to the inside and tape down.
  • Trim away the tape covering the handle opening.
  • Repeat on other side, making sure magnets are in correct alignment.

Step 7: Staple Together

Picture of Staple Together
Now we make the "seams."

  • Fold fabric in half, right sides together
  • Staple the sides of the bag 1/2" in from the edge.
  • Clip the corners at the top.
  • Repeat on other side.

Step 8: Tape Over Edges

Picture of Tape Over Edges
Now we'll seal the raw edges.

  • Using a block or book inside, press the seam allowance open with your fingers.
  • Cover the edges with tape and trim.
  • Repeat on other side.

Step 9: Close Bottom Corners

Picture of Close Bottom Corners
Close the bottom of the bag at the corners by matching up the raw edges.

  • Staple together 1/2" in from edge.
  • Fold seam allowance toward the bottom of the bag and cover with tape.
  • Trim and fold edges for a clean finish.
  • Repeat on other side.

Step 10: Turn Tote Right Side Out

Picture of Turn Tote Right Side Out
Well, that's pretty self-explanatory.

  • Turn bag right side out.
  • Test out your awesome magnets.
  • Fill it with goodies.
  • Send some to me.:)


sdpiphi (author)2012-10-03

I loved this pattern, especially since I don't really sew. The fabric I used was just jersey knit scrap, but I loved the duct tape I had, so I just didn't turn it inside out at the end. This was an awesome idea; thanks for sharing.

DeandrasCrafts (author)2012-06-10

Thank you scooch! I love this instructable and will be making so many more of these! I've been giving them out to my friends and they cannot believe what it's made of.

curlyFSU (author)2012-01-10

Thanks for such a fun project. Here is my first attempt and I think I will try to make it in different sizes for my mom and sister.

isandy (author)2011-07-07

This is what I made for tote bag and zipper pouch with scrap fabric. Will do the wallet card next weekend. Thank you for this instruction. By the way, I mentioned your instruction on this

scoochmaroo (author)isandy2011-07-07

Gorgeous!!! Really well done. I'm glad you had success with it!

masynmachien (author)2011-02-09

Hi, thanks for this great Ible!
I made one for my good friend Kleenie's birthday. I added some duct tape roses (she's very fond of red roses). I wrapped the roses on some M3 nuts mounted on a bolt, removed the bolt and cut a flat bottom end to each rose. Then I attached each rose to the back of a snap fastener half with the bolt. I put in a washer in between an carefully added a drop of superglue to lock the thread and add strength to the attachment.

scoochmaroo (author)masynmachien2011-02-09

Wow. Awesome work!

piccolo1979 (author)2010-12-21

Finally had a bit of time on my hands & gave this one a go. I must say I am very happy with the way it turned out. The big red & black bag was made last night along with it’s matching zipper pouch(used your no sew zipper pouch ‘ible for it). Then today I got really inspired & made the matching card holder from another one of your no sew duct tape ‘ibles(1st attempt was too small, so I turned it into a contact lens case holder). I also made the skull bag today. Love your instructibles! :)

scoochmaroo (author)piccolo19792010-12-22

So Awesome!!! Great work!

alix-cool (author)2010-11-18

I love this! I tried it, it was so handy cos i dont have a sewing machine- thanks for the idea!!

scoochmaroo (author)alix-cool2010-11-18


crzychique (author)2009-05-01

I made a larger version totebag approximately 2x the size and the results turned out pretty good considering it was my first instructable project.

scoochmaroo (author)crzychique2009-05-01

Sweet!!! I love it!

DawnD42 made it! (author)2016-03-27

Fun. I added decor with hot glue. I used a table runner that was the thickness of a placemat. It was hard to staple so next time i'll go with something thinner.

LornaD8 made it! (author)2016-03-21

I had some duct tape left over from other projects and some material so I decided to make these for my nieces to use a book bags to the library. Can't wait to see what they think!

trepanier.carole.7 (author)2014-12-30

I AM obviously clumsy! I just did not read it 'till the end! GREAT tutorial! I'm making one... at least!!!! Thank you!

trepanier.carole.7 (author)2014-12-30

I adore this idea! Maybe i'm a bit clumsy but... Where do the staples come in?
Thank you!!!

tonyssn639 (author)2014-08-20

Excellent idea and directions. Makes a dad feel like he can sew. Thanks for sharing!

marydecorator (author)2014-03-25

Thanks for sharing. These are look really neat! I'm a big fan of duct tape and I'm sure to try it out soon. :) I read in another comment about sewing instead of stapling and you advised against it because it could jam up the machine. How about hand sewing then, do you think that could work?

creative_aarya (author)2014-02-06

I have been to instructables numerous time before. But only today created an account just to let you know that I love this tutorial and I am sure I'll be trying it pretty soon.

I love the idea of duct tape as lining. If done neatly, this could be a convertible tote - for beach, for shopping or just as a stylish bag to carry your stuff around.

Well that is just so sweet. Thank you!

sprekeges (author)2013-08-10

I love it! I kept mine duct tape side out and it's great! I'm giving it as a gift!

MYT CR8TiV (author)2013-02-20

Could you sew the seams up with a sewing machine instead of using a stapler ? I kinda wanna try making one but a very large one that would hold groceries and I want it to be able to withstand the weight of the items that are going to be placed into it. Love this idea though. Thanxs for sharing !!

scoochmaroo (author)MYT CR8TiV2013-02-20

You definitely don't want to sew over duct tape - it will jam up your sewing machine something awful. But skip the duct tape step, and you're good to go!

acejoker_01 (author)2012-10-09

First day on this site. Lets see how I do. lol These are so awesome !!

Ahelmil (author)2012-10-01

If, like me you use the really cheap duct tape, which shrinks a little after application. Cut your strips of tape long, and set them aside to shrink back to normal before applying to the fabric. Gives a less wrinkled look. Or go for the wrinkles - it's quite arty!

Ps great design, on about my 5th variation.

fugazi1967 (author)2012-09-13

WOW I found this site today & am already addicted. I have just bought a fat quarter of fabric from ebay just so I can make this bag!!!!

scoochmaroo (author)fugazi19672012-09-13

Fantastic! Welcome :D

jessyho862013 (author)2012-07-26

that is so cool i love it

bitsy113 (author)2012-02-03

OMG, I'm so inspired!! AWSOME PROJECT!! I can't wait to show my daughter she's been bugging me to buy her some colored or patterned duct tape, now I have a reason to get some. We both like projects, hopefully we can try it this weekend!! I have one of those "as seen on tv" kangaroo pouches to keep all my stuff in when I switch purses, it should fit perfectly in one of these!! Thanks so much for the cool ibble!!

jennie92248 (author)2011-12-18

WOW! I have never thought of making that! I will have to try it sometime. =)

porcupinemamma (author)2011-07-12

Fab-U-Lous ! ! would also love toknow how to make the duct tape roses

isandy (author)2011-06-27

This rocks! Will try to make one this week. Thanks to share the instruction here! Will read the zipped version too!

md4v3 (author)2011-06-22

This is sooo cute. Imma try to make this one. Thanks!!!

tking-3 (author)2011-05-20

This is really awesome!! I think I will make a few for different days of the week :) Thanks so much for sharing.

GIHODGE (author)2011-05-11

Tried this for the first time last night. Used an old pin stripe twin sheet and made a huge beach bag. Took it to work today and everyone wants one now. thanks for the awesom instructions! I think I will make smaller ones for a Relay For Life Fundraiser.

scoochmaroo (author)GIHODGE2011-05-11

Fantastic! It would be awesome if you could share some pictures too.

terriann (author)2011-04-08

I can imagine modifying the dimensions and shape of this and making an awesome trash can for a bedroom. The duct tape can be wiped down but the fabric is much more lovely than a rubber bin!

Alberta Leong (author)2011-01-24

I really like this eco tote bag idea. will try crafting one soon! :)

WickedSpindle (author)2010-12-30

I love the term "party" side for the right side of the fabric. So adorable.

cheese10 (author)2009-04-28

This is a GREAT idea! One question: Is there any way you can think of to add a pocket or two on the inside? Just curious. Thanks!

scoochmaroo (author)cheese102009-04-28

aww, yeah. I was thinking the same thing.
Stay tuned for more duct tape instructables, with pockets coming soon!

spoiler alert
the next one uses a zipper! subscribe to me to stay on the cutting edge!

southbaysue (author)scoochmaroo2010-11-22


How do I subscribe to you?

I'm going to make one of those today and post a very first ible!


scoochmaroo (author)southbaysue2010-11-22

You can subscribe by clicking the button next to my picture where the rating stars are. Can't wait to see your pics!

southbaysue (author)scoochmaroo2010-11-22

i'm sorry, but i can't see the rating stars...i see your pic, and a hand with '114' where i hover and see some stats, but no stars!

this is strange...usually i'm asking for help because i AM seeing stars...hmmmm

acexkeikai (author)scoochmaroo2009-04-30

Yes please do one with a zipper. I think it's also a GREAT mother's day's gift... I didn't know what to get for my mother now I know THANKS!

acexkeikai (author)scoochmaroo2009-05-01

thank you very much :)

donteatsoap7 (author)2010-11-21

Thank you, so much. I could not think of a gift for my friend for Christmas. Now I have the best idea!!

b1russell (author)2010-03-12

Oh, cool, Scooch!  A tote to put the No-Sew Duct Tape Zippered Pouch IN.  Why didn't I think of that?  Love it!

About This Instructable




Bio: Former Living & Food editor here at Instructables, now running! Follow me @sousvidely
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