This Urban Outfitters knock off tote bag comes together in 30-mintues and makes for a wonderful beginner sewing project. Let’s get started!
I wanted a canvas bag that would be perfect for some rainy Spring weather but was light and fun enough to carry me through summer. Duck canvas (or duck cloth) is a great fabric to use for this tote because it’s inexpensive, available everywhere, and has a great sense of weight to provide some structure!
This makes for a wonderful beginner sewing project because there are no zippers, you will learn how to sew seams, finish edges, and attach straps. You will also learn how to add depth to a bag easily. So let’s get to it!
Supplies for the Urban Outfitters Knock Off Tote Bag
Although you don’t need to use duck canvas, I strongly recommend it. Duck canvas is easy to clean, will withstand Spring showers without spotting, and will help to provide structure to your bag. My bag doesn’t stand up on its own when empty, but does when I have my things in it.
- 1/2 yard color one duck canvas – I chose black
- 1/2 yard color two duck canvas – I chose hot pink
- 1 and 1/2 yards of canvas webbing for the straps (I used exactly 48.5 inches, but you can make the straps longer or shorter depending on how you like your totes to hang).
- fabric paint (or acrylic paint and a textile medium)
- sewing supplies, coordinating thread
Fabric Cuts for the Tote
- Measure and cut two pieces of the black (or your color one) duck cloth at 14 wide by 15.5 high.
- Measure and cut 1 pink (or your color two) duck cloth at 14 wide by 15 high.
- Measure and cut 1 pink duck cloth at 14 x 3.5 inches.
Instructions for Urban Outfitters Knock Off Tote
Make the Pocket Insert for the Tote Bag
First, we’ll get the pocket piece ready. Double hem (roll up the bottom edge 1/2 and inch and then another 1/2 an inch) the pink 14 x 15 inch piece (your larger lining piece). Sew that seam at a 1/4 inch from the edge.
Line up the outside piece (right sides) to the wrong side of the the pink (the side with the flipped up hem you just made is facing down) and sew a 1/2 inch seam. Flip it outside right, hiding that sewn seam. Finger press the top edge (only works if you’re using duck canvas).
Fold up the bottom “pocket” piece and determine the widths of your sections – I used pins. I used my phone to make sure I had a pocket big enough for that. Keep in mind that you will LOSE space on the sides for the seam allowance.
Lift up the pocket piece (pink) from the black and sew the vertical lines where you placed the pins (or your chalk lines). I lifted it up because I didn’t want the pocket sections to show on the outside of the bag. If you don’t mind that, just sew the two pieces together when you’re sewing your pocket sections.
Finish the Inside of the Bag
For the other side of our tote bag… Roll up a 1/2 inch on the bottom, but don’t sew it, just finger press the duck cloth. Match up the top edges of the other outer piece with this one and sew a 0.5 inch seam.
Flip it over and finger press the top edge. Make sure the piece measures 2.5 of pink lining and
pin and then sew down the bottom edge, making sure to tuck the folded piece under.
Iron your fabric and cut any strays / fraying. Line up the edges and sew with a 0.5 seam allowance. Trim seam to .25 of an inch and zigzag edges to prevent fraying.
You could be done here if you desire the tote to be a thin shopper style, and if so, skip down to the bit below (Next Steps and Finishing). If however, you’re like me and want to have a more structured tote in which there is room for a sippy cup or snack pouch to be concealed, do this next bit.
Make the Bottom Corners of the Tote Bag
Pop out the bottom corners of the bag by lining up the side seam with the bottom seam. Secure with pins. Measure 2 inches (or 1.5 if you like it a bit narrower) down from the point and draw a line with chalk (or indicate with a line of pins). Sew along the line and repeat the process for the other side.
Trim off the seam to .25 of an inch and zig zag stitch the edges to prevent fraying. Turn the bag right side out and pop out the corners.
If you used duck canvas, your bag should be able to stand up on its own. :) Once you add your canvas straps, it might or might not – mine does sometimes but I think it depends on what’s in the actual tote helping to keep the structure.
Paint the Urban Outfitters Knock Off Tote
So I chose to paint the shapes on before adding the straps, but you could choose to do it at the end. If you need tips on how to paint fabric, what tools are best, and what will produce the best results, sign up for my once-weekly newsletter and get access to the exclusive subscriber content with those tips. You can do that here – go ahead, we’ll wait.
Next Steps and Finishing
Top stitch the top of the bag to your desired seam allowance (I used .25 inches). Iron the bag.
With these measurements, it gives an 8.5 inch drop for an over the shoulder option however, I normally carry it on my forearm. Measure out 24.25 inches of canvas webbing and cut. Do it
again – you will need 2 straps of canvas webbing, at 25.25 inches each. Zig zag stitch each end of the canvas webbing (an extra step I always take) after folding over the ends about 3/8 of an inch. Do this on both sides.
Because the bag measures (or should measure) 13 inches wide at this point, measure 4 and 9 inches from the edge. The center of your straps will hit at 4 and 9 inches on a measuring tape. Measure down from those points 2.5 inches – that’s where the bottom edge of you strap will hit.
Make sure your straps aren’t twisted and pin them in place on the outside of your bag. Sew a cross box on each strap, making sure that the straps don’t move around while you’re sewing them on.
If you chose not to paint your bag until now, subscribe to my newsletter to get the basics on fabric painting. Voilá – you now have an Urban Outfitters knock off tote bag to carry you through the season!
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