Nine Patch Totebag with Zip Close


Want more great zipper tote ideas? Check out these patterns!


  • 1 Charm Pack OR 18 – 5″ Squares
  • 1 yd coordinating fabric (lining and handles)
  • 1 – 17″ or longer zipper
  • 1/2 yd Interfacing or stabilizer (if using)

This bag is 14″w X 17″t.  You can make the bag any size you would like, you will just have to adjust the size of your lining and zipper pieces.

Begin by choosing 9 of the 5″ squares and laying them out in a nine patch grid. Sew three squares together in each row, then sew the rows together to make the nine patch panel.  You will need to make 2 nine patch panels.

Totebag Front Panel Nine Patch

I made both panels the same, but you could use different fabrics for each side if you choose.

From the coordinating fabric, cut 2 strips that measure 3-1/2″ X 14-1/4″ (or the width of your nine patch panel).  Sew a strip to the bottom of each nine patch panel. This will be the bottom of your bag. Be sure to press all seams.

Front/Back Panel

Front & Back Panel

I used an iron-on interfacing (also known as stabilizer) on the front and back panel of my bag to add some structure.  If you are using interfacing, cut two pieces that measure 14-1/4″ X 17-1/4″. Iron to the back of each panel following the manufacturer’s instructions. Set these panels aside.

Make the Handles

Cut two strips 4″W X WOF (width of fabric).  Fold each piece in half lengthwise and press in place.  Unfold and fold each long side in to meet the crease in the middle. Press in place.  Fold in half again lengthwise and press well.  The side raw edges should now be enclosed.

Top stitch around the handle.  I used a straight stitch in a coordinating color – any decorative stitch would also look nice.

Trim the handles to the size you like.  I made mine long so I can carry the bag over my shoulder.  Set the handles aside.

Make the Zippered Lining

From the coordinating fabric you will need to cut the following pieces:

  • (2) 3″ x 1-1/2″ – (Zipper Ends)
  • (4) 1-1/2″ x 12-1/4″ (Zipper Casing)
  • (2) 2-1/4″ x 14-1/4″ (Top Lining)
  • (2) 14-1/4″ x 15-1/2″ (Bottom Lining)
Zip Ends & Casings

Zip Ends & Casings

Lining Top/Bottom Pieces

Lining Top/Bottom Pieces

Begin by working with the zipper casings (long pieces). Fold over each short end 1/4″ and press. You are now ready to sew these pieces to the zipper.

totebag zipper casing

Casings with short end folded in 1/4″

With the zipper laying right side up, lay the first piece of casing along the edge right sides together. Center the casing piece on the zipper. Sew together using 1/4″ seam allowance.

Repeat with a second casing on the opposite edge.  Press each piece to the side. Your zipper will now look like this:


Repeat this process on the back of the zipper.  Be sure to line up both ends of the casings.  When you have all four pieces of casing sewn on the zipper, press each piece in place.

Top stitch along three sides of the casing (you will not stitch along the raw edge).


Make the Zip Ends: Using the 3″ x 1-1/2″ pieces, fold the short edge over 1/4″ and press each piece.


(See where I initially folded the long edge and pressed? DON’T do that!)

Fold the short ends together (right sides together), and sew along the longer edges. Clip the corners – don’t cut the seams! – and turn the pieces inside out.  Use a blunt object to push the corners in place.


Line the zipper pull even with the edge of the casing.  You will be cutting the excess off each end of the zipper so you’ll want to be sure the zipper pull is in place before you cut.

Working with one end of the zipper, cut it approximately 1-1/4″ longer than the zip casing. Cover the cut end with the zip end and sew in place. Repeat on the other end. Your completed zipper will look like this:



Attach Zipper to the Lining

Lay one bottom lining piece right side up. Center the zipper on top (right side up), with one raw edge of the casing even with the edge of the lining. Lay a top lining piece (right side down) and sew all three pieces together. Press the seams on both top and bottom lining pieces.

Repeat for the second side of lining pieces.


Assemble the Tote

Sew the front and back panel pieces together on both sides and the bottom, right sides together.

Box the ends: Pinch the bottom corners together – making sure the seams line up – measure 1-1/2″ from corner, and stitch across the end.  Do this to both sides.  Trim the seam to 1/4″.



Lining: Sew the front and back lining pieces together (these are attached with the zipper) on both sides and the bottom.  Make sure to keep the zip ends out of the way of your seam.

Box the ends for the lining the same as you did for the outside panels and turn the lining inside out.  Your lining piece will now look like this:



Place lining fabric inside the outside panels with right sides together. Place straps between the rights sides of fabric on each side. Straps should be 3″ in from the side edge. Pin everything together really well.


Sew around the top of the bag 1/2″ from the edge.  Leave a 3-4″ opening unstitched so you can turn the bag right sides out. (I found it easier to turn with a 4″ opening if using interfacing.)


Turn the bag inside out. Press the top seam well so you will have a nice crisp edge. Top stitch around the bag.  This will close the opening you left for turning.  I chose to sew two lines around the top for a more finished look.


Congratulations! You’ve just made a tote bag with a zipper closure. Enjoy!

Want more patterns for zipper totes? Visit the Craftsy pattern page for more inspiration!


I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.  I hope you have fun with your new totebag! 🙂








7 Responses to Nine Patch Totebag with Zip Close

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  2. Mari Gossett says:

    Above you said to turn the lining inside out “and it should look like this.” I found this confusing because the photo doesn’t show the lining to be inside out. At least not from looking at your corners (they appear to be right side out). I have done totes and recessed zipppers etc…but I’m wondering if I didn’t sew something together wrong on your “sew zipper to lining” step.(Possibly the top lining piece/strip?) I’m having difficulty figuring out how to get my lining pinned & sewn to the outside of my bag following your instructions. I even took the lining apart and started over. I really want to finish this bag as I have invested a lot of my time in it. Its hard to explain without showing you. It would be easier to send a picture, but I don’t see a way to do that. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  3. I would love to see demonstrations with zippers used on a color where you can see what is going on. It is most difficult to know what is being done on navy blue or black.

  4. Autumn says:

    What seam allowance do you use?

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  6. I love the fact that this tote has a separate bottom piece going on–it makes it look grounded and solid. I love it!

  7. Lynne Tilley says:

    I just love this tote bag because it has a ZIPPER! I just hate an “open” bag. This is fabulous, and your tutorial is great! Thanks!

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