Retro Zippered Tote Bag

How to sew a retro zippered tote bag with removable purse organizer

Hey y’all and welcome to Sewspire!

Today I am here to show you how to sew this fabulous retro zippered tote bag with removable organizer. For this project you will need to precut the following fabric pieces:

Tote Bag:

Top Panel, cut two 18″ x 9″ rectangles

Base Panel, cut two 18″ x 10″ rectangles

Interior, cut two 18″ x 18″ squares

Handles, cut two 30″ x 6″ strips

Zipper Casing, cut two 20″ x 6″ strips

Fusible Fleece, cut two 18″ x 18″ squares and two 3″ x 30″ strips

Plus, one 18″ heavy duty separating zipper to match

Removable Organizer:

Body, cut one 18″ x 30″ rectangle

Pocket Panel, cut one 16″ x 30″ rectangle

Heavyweight Pellon Sew In Interfacing / Stabilizer, cut one 16.5″ x 28″ rectangle

I hope you enjoyed this project and will share pictures of your finished retro totes with our creative community. You can post your photos directly to the Sewspire Facebook page using @sewspire or tag #sewspire on Instagram.

I will be back soon with another inspired project. Until then, please know the creative genius in me salutes the creative genius in you!



P.S. For your reference, the finished tote should measure approximately 11″ across the base, 6″ deep and 13″ tall.


11 thoughts on “How to sew a retro zippered tote bag with removable purse organizer

  1. Andrea, I just discovered your channel and I love the sewing projects!!! I just purchase enough to make 6 retro zippered tote bags as presents for my sisters and mom when I visit in October! I would really like to add one pocket on the inside. Any thoughts on how to do it? Thank you!!

    1. Welcome to Sewspire Pattie! I am so happy you found our creative community. I would suggest cutting two pieces of fabric to your desired pocket size. Position those two pieces right sides facing and stitch all the way around, leaving a 2″ hole to turn right side out. Turn the pocket right side out and press. Tuck those raw edges around the opening inward and position the pocket on one of the interior body panels. Stitch around three sides of the pocket to attach the pocket to the interior. You’ll want to hide the turn hole along one of the seams. Happy sewing! Andrea

      1. Thank you Andrea!! I will begin sewing this weekend! I have watched your retro zippered tote over and over and I think I can do it. I will be adding inside pockets too! When I am finished I am going to treat myself and make the Ultimate Tote bag with ALL those lovely Pockets!!! Take Care!

  2. Do you remember the designer of the retro kitchen fabric? It is awesome. Would be great for kitchen appliance covers I’m thinking about. Thanks.

  3. Thank you for these videos. I am going to make this tote for a swap I am in. I do have a question though… the written measurements say the top panel is 18 x 9 and the base is 18 x 10… BUT in your video you stated that the base is the smaller of the two pieces… so I am a tad confused and I only have enough fabric to get this right the first time LOL. Which is which ?

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