Nancy Zieman Shows How to Make an Easy Fabric Tote Bag for Kids Toys



Most fabric bags or totes for kids are rather wimpy. I remember putting toys and books in fabric bags for my boys, but the parts and pieces would often get lost in the bottom of the bag. After buying adorable finger puppets for my granddaughters, I knew they needed a home in an activity bag.

Activity Bag Tutorial

Fabrics/supplies:

Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman

Note from Nancy: If you’d like a taller top closure like the activity bag pictured below, purchase three fat quarters plus 1/3 yard of a fourth fabric, in this instance the yellow striped fabric.


Nancy Zieman Shows How To Make Kids' Activity Bag for Toys and Books



• Fold two fat quarters, meeting the short edges and trim off the selvage edges. Unfold the fabrics. These fabrics will be used as the outer and inner lower bags.

Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman

  • Stack the fabrics and cut 10″ x 13″ rectangles (two outer lower bag rectangles and two for the inner lining). Trim out 3″ squares at the lower corners, as shown in photo.

Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman

  • Stitch the outer bag shapes right-sides together along the lower edge. All seam allowances are 1/2″. Press seams open.
  • Cut the craft interfacing, Peltex, the size of the sewn outer bag. Pin wrong sides together to the outer bag.
  • Zigzag the outer bag edges to the Peltex.
  • Stitch the inner lining shapes, right-sides together, along the lower edge. Press seams open.

Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman

  • Cut a pocket from another fat quarter, 9″ x 13″.
  • Fold the rectangle, right sides together, meeting the long edges.
  • Stitch the long edge, using a 1/2″ seam allowance (ends will remain open).

Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman

  • Turn the pocket right side out; press.
  • Overlay the pocket on one half of the outer bag. Pin the lower edge of the pocket 5/8″ above the lower edge of the bag.
  • Topstitch the pocket to the bag across the lower and side edges.

Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman

  • Stitch the side seams of both the outer bag and the lining, using 1/2″ seam allowances.
  • Press seams open.

Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman

  • Pin the bag corner, stacking the side seam on top of the lower seam. Use Wonder Clips to “pin” the thick layers.

Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman

  • Stitch the corner seam, using a 1/2″ seam allowance.
  • Repeat pinning and stitching lining corner seams.

Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman

  • Turn the outer bag right side out.
  • Tuck the lining inside the outer bag, wrong sides together.
  • Zigzag or serge top edge.

Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman

Cut upper bag fabric.

  • Cut two 10″ x 13″ rectangles for the polka dot fat quarter version.
  • Cut two 12″ x 13″ rectangles for the striped longer upper bag option .
  • Fold the rectangles in half, wrong sides together, meeting long (13″) edges.
  • Press folds, pressing in a memory line for later!Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman
  • Unfold the rectangles. Align the rectangles, right sides together.
  • Stitch the sides, using 1/2″ seam allowances. Press seams open.
Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman
  • Turn the fabric right side out. Refold along the pressed memory line.
  • Zigzag or serge the lower edges.
Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman
  • Edgestitch along the fold and 1/2″ from the fold, creating a casing for the ribbon. (Make certain that the distance between the stitchings is slightly wider than the ribbon.)
  • Back stitch at both seam intersections. (This is really important! You’ll see why later.)
Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman
  • Here’s a close-up of back stitching at the seam intersections.

Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman

  • Pin the upper bag over lower bag, pinning entire edge together.
  • Stitch with a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman
  • Turn the upper bag fabric right side up.
  • Use a seam ripper to remove the stitches between the casing stitches.Nancy Zieman Sewing With Nancy Kids' Activity Bag
  • Cut the ribbon into two 1-yard lengths.
  • Thread the ribbon through the casing. Tie the ends together.
  • Repeat at the other side seam, inserting the remaining 1-yard length of ribbon.
Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman
  • Presto, you’re done! The inside is bright and sturdy, thanks to the Peltex underlining. There will not be any lost toys in this activity bag!
Kids' Activity Bag Tutorial by Nancy Zieman

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Nancy Zieman's Kids Activity Bag Project Sheet



Also, several of you have asked for downloadable, printable instructions of this project. For your convenience, the Kids’ Activity Bag is now available to purchase as a downloadable file.

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

Nancy Zieman—author, pattern designer, businesswomen, producer, and national sewing authority—is the host of the popular show Sewing With Nancy®, which appears exclusively on public television stations across the United States and Canada. Follow Nancy’s Blog at NancyZieman.com/Blog and sign up to receive Nancy’s E-News for the latest news in Sewing, Quilting, & Creating.
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