Screen Base Tote Bag Sewing Directions

SCREEN BASE TOTE BAG  from Londa’s Sunroom Sewing Studio

screen bag tote


Starting with 52″ of Pet Screening 36” wide, (or 48”)* and following these directions, you’ll have 1 Tote for you and 1 to GIVE as a gift!  I’ve used this as a great project for even beginning sewers in my Sunroom Sewing Studio here in Jackson, TN, and I made 4 of these for gifts this last Christmas.  Totes like this come in very handy for grocery shopping (and will be more-so as one use plastic T-Bags are out-lawed.)  We always take ours to the local Farmer’s Market.  Boxing the bottom pretty deeply yields a Tote that allows for orderly ‘packing’ of items inside.  The deeper you box it, the shorter the sides will be.  I’ve found that using the Pet Screen makes a very durable long-lasting Tote Bag.  You can find this screening at a Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Background ‘Fabric’
36” wide Pet Screening: a 52” length of screening will do 2 totes. *48” screening is also available, you’ll just have a larger circumference to the Tote Bag.

Bottom Base/Trim Fabric: 44” wide: 1.25 yard will do 2 totes.
* If you want to substitute 3/4-1” wide ribbon for the Upper Skinny Accent Strips and the Handles, you’ll need 6 yards of ribbon, and 1 yard of fabric instead of 1.25 yards.

Of this fabric amount, 8” is for the handles – (which could be done with ribbon instead)


Cutting & Construction –

for 2 Totes. Up through Step 9 will create the body with Fabric A and Accent Fabric B stitched in place for TWO Totes.

Cutting Tote Base & Handles of Screening

1. From 52” x 36” screen, cut off four 3” strips along the 52” side – these 4 pieces are the handles (2 per bag). The remaining 40” piece is the Tote Bag BASE.

Cutting Bottom Bag Fabric

  1. Cut one piece 20” along the selvage x 36” wide for the Bottom Base of the Tote.
  2. Cut 2 pieces 2” wide x width of fabric, then cut each strip in half crosswise so that you have four 2” wide x 22” long strips of fabric for Seam Binding pieces (side and bottom seams).
  3. Cut 2 pieces 2” wide x width of fabric for the Upper Skinny Accent Pieces. * Ribbon can be used instead. Cut 2 pieces 36” long.
  4. Cut two Binding piece 3 .5” wide along the selvages width of fabric (WOF). This will give you one Top Binding piece for each bag.
  5. Cut four 2” strips the width of fabric for the Handles (2 strips per bag). * 1″ wide  Ribbon can be used instead: Cut 4 pieces, each 36” long (2 per bag)

Set Fabric (Ribbon) aside and label as follows for the 2nd bag:
• 1 of the 3 .5” Top Binding pieces
• 2 of the 2” Handle Fabric Pieces * or ribbon if using instead of fabric)

• 2 of the Screen Handle Pieces
• 2 of the Seam Binding pieces

Construction (Steps 1-8 create the fabric-trimmed body for 2 bags)

1. Mark a center line on the screen at 20” along the side. That should mark 2 pieces that are 20” x 36” width of the screen.
2. On the 20” x 36” piece of Bottom Base Fabric, press under 1/2” to the wrong side on each 36” side. Then press it in 1/2 lengthwise. The pressed piece should then by 19.5” x 36”.

3. Unfold piece and center that pressed line from Step 2 over the marked line on the base as done in Step 1. Pin the folded 36” edges in place.
4. Stitch 1/4” to each side of the center pressed line, and edge stitch along both folded edges.

Roll up the excess screening and place at the machine as shown to handle the excess width. 5. Press under 1/2” on each long edge of both of the Upper Skinny Accent Pieces.
6. Measure and pin these Skinny Accent pieces as desired to either side of the large piece as shown. I placed my Skinny Accent pieces 3” away from the large piece.

Your piece should look like this picture below when you are done.

7. If necessary, square up the long edges using a rotary cutter and ruler.

8. Cut along the center line of Bottom Base and WALA, you have TWO Totes!




9. Lay 1 Tote aside along with what you laid aside for the Handles, Top binding, and Seam Binding for use later, following the directions from here forward to create the 1st Bag.

10. Fold the Bag Body in half, matching the Upper Skinny Strip and top of the Bottom fabric. Pin and stitch in a 1/2” seam.
11. Stitch the lowermost edge using a 1/2” seam.

Bind the side and lower seam edges following these steps.

  • Lay right side of 2” wide binding to one side of the seam and stitch.
  • Trim to 1/4” wide.
  • Wrap around the raw screen edge and press the remaining raw edge to meet the raw screen edge. Fold around the cut edge and then stitch close to the folded edge through all layers to secure. I used a zig-zag stitch 3 long and about 3.5-5 wide.
  • Repeat for the lowermost bottom seam.

 Box the Bottom by:
• Align each side seam to bottom seam.
• Stitch across at 3” from the tip as shown in the 2nd picture on the next page.

* Tack the corners to either the bottom seam as shown in the 3rd picture below.

Handles & Top Binding

1. Use the Clover  1” Bias Tape Maker to easily press under 1/2” along both long edges of the Handle fabric.

2. With the machine set at wide zig zag, take each screen 3“ wide strips and fold them to the center to butt the edges. Stitch through all layers, catching each raw edge in the center and zz stitch as shown.

3. Center Fabric Handle strips over 1.5” side of each screen handle, centering on the screen. Edge stitch along both long edges. You may use straight stitch or the big wide Zig Zag. * This could be 1” ribbon centered and stitched over the screen handles if you prefer, completely replacing the fabric handles.

4. On the OUTSIDE of the Tote, center the right side of the handles down towards the bag, placed approximately 4 1/2” in from each side edge, align- ing raw edges. Make sure the handles are not twisted. See the picture. (One handle goes on one side of the Tote, and the other handle on the other side of the Tote.) Stitch to hold in place with 1/4” seams.


5. Press one long edge of the Top Binding Fabric 1/2” to the wrong side.

6. Bind the upper edge of the Tote by laying the raw edge of right side of the 3.5” wide piece of Top Binding Fabric to the WRONG side of the Tote. Begin right in the center of a handle location, and turn the end of the binding towards you to start. Stitch in a 3/8” seam.


7. Wrap binding to RIGHT SIDE of the Tote, pin, and edge stitch in place. along the low- ermost edge. Optional: Stitch along the uppermost edge. You can use straight stitch or ZigZag for these stitching rows.

(The handles will still be directed downward still on the bag at this point).

8. Flip each handle up into place.  Then, stitch along each side of the handle in the Top Binding area. Then stitch a securing X following the directions shown in the photo.

Repeat steps from page 3 on with the other half of screen using pieces set aside as directed at the end of Step 5 at the beginning of the directions.

Copyright 2017. Revised 2020 Londa J. Rohlfing  Londa’s Sunroom Sewing Studio

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