Introduction: How to Sew Quick and Easy Party Favor Mini Tote Bags

About: Originally from Michigan, I am currently living on the Spanish Riviera with my Spanish husband, our toddler, two dogs and four hens. I love to make fondant cakes for special occasions, but try to keep proces…
Now that there is a little less than a month left before my son's birthday, I have started to give more thought to how his birthday party will be. I decided to choose Cars for this year's theme because I had impulsively bought some cute, inexpensive Cars watches for party favors a month or two ago, and know that if the batteries go out, it will cost more for me to replace them than the watches cost in the first place.

Instead of buying some cheap, plastic Cars favor bags, I decided to make my own out of cloth.  They actually ended up being cheaper and I think they look a lot nicer.  Plus, they should last longer.

I wanted a design that would be quick and easy to make because I planned on making at least a dozen of them.  I had originally thought of making drawstring pouches out of t-shirt sleeves or kids t-shirts, but decided that, even if they are quick to make, pulling that many drawstrings through could take quite awhile, and they might not be as cute as a mini tote.

What you will need:
  • Cloth
  • Thread
  • Ribbon, cotton ribbon tape, or something similar for the straps
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine
  • Overlock Machine (optional)
  • Iron-on Transfers or fabric paint for decorating them (Optional)

Step 1: Step One: Sew the Strap Loops to the Top Length of the Fabric

The problem with making a tote is that sewing the straps on the side of the bag can also take quite awhile.  So I decided to sew the straps into the top seam of the bags instead.

To be honest, when I began I had no idea of how they would turn out, but I had an idea and just went with it. 

I took a long strip of fabric and used my overlock machine to sew down the top edge, adding loops of ribbon wherever I wanted a strap to be.  (You could use a regular sewing machine, of course, I just find the overlock machine to be quicker and neater.) 

Keep in mind when spacing that you need to leave twice the space that you want between the strap and the edge of each bag because you are making several bags at once.    You will later be cutting down the center of the space between loops and that cut will end up being the edge of your bag. 

I hope that makes sense.

I didn't measure, but kept a mental image of the size, more or less, that I wanted my bags to be when forming and sewing on the loops.  I tried to keep all of the loops the same width and length. 

Step 2: Step 2: Fold Over and Sew Down Top Seam (Pull Strap Loops Upward)

After serging down the entire top edge, you will have to move back to a regular sewing machine to sew down the top hem and sew the strap loops upwards into place.  I doubled the top over in such a way as to hide the overlock stitches. 

Whenever I came to a strap, I would pull them upwards and sew them into place using the same seam.

Step 3: Step 3: Cut Vertically Down the Middle Between Loops

Having added the straps that way is what makes these bags quick and easy; you make them like you would in an assembly line.

Once you have your straps in place, you can form your bags.  The bags are nothing more than a tube of fabric with a seam at the bottom.  Then, to be able to make them stand up, you later cut the corners off and sew across the edges as I will show you.

So, start by cutting out your individual pieces for your bags by cutting down the center of the spaces between each strap.

For my first prototype bag, I left two pieces together and only sewed down one side.  For all of the rest of the bags, though, I sewed down both sides because it gave a more balanced look to the bag.  So, I would just cut down the center here, too, forming 2 pieces of fabric with only one loop on them.

Step 4: Step 4: Sew Down the Sides and Across the Bottom

After pairing up similar panels, you sew them together down the sides and bottom, making sure that wrong sides are out (right sides facing each other.)

Here it is done in black to show the seams better- later, I made them with white thread, and sewed down both sides to make it look even.

Step 5: Step 5: Make the Bag Stand Up

Keeping the wrong sides out, flip the bags in such a way that both side seams come together. 

In the (prototype) bag in the photo, I had only made one side seam, but in the others I ended up sewing along both sides.  I liked the more balanced look that the bags had that way. 

You will notice that you end up with two points at the bottom. 
To make the bag stand up, you have to cut those points off and sew across the cut (see the black line that I drew in the photos).  I used my overlock machine to do it all in one step. 

Now, repeat on the other side.

Step 6: Step 6: Turn Right Side Out

Turn your bag right side out and you are finished!!  The bag with now have a flat bottom to stand up on, and will look like a mini tote!

Step 7: Step 7: Decorate! (Optional, of Course!)

I used inkjet t-shirt transfers for white cloth to decorate my bags.

Being for a party, I decided I wanted it to mention the party in some way to make it a keepsake, but I didn't it to be too obvious, making it unusable for other things.  So, I put my son's name in the Cars logo, and ironed it on inside the bag. 

Lightning McQueen on the outside of the bag finished the design off.