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No-Sew Tote Bags




Why break the bank for a designer bag when you can easily make your own? These fashionable totes from crafter Jodi Kahn are constructed with two main items: a roll of duct tape and a stapler.


  • Scissors
  • Pencil or fabric marker
  • 1 yard home-decorating or upholstery-weight fabric
  • Heat 'n' Bond Iron-on Vinyl
  • Iron
  • 2 yards of 1-inch or wider webbing (for straps)
  • Stapler
  • Duct tape in complementary color


  1. Step 1

    Cut a 20-by-36-inch piece of home-decorating or upholstery-weight fabric. Line the back of the fabric with iron-on vinyl to protect and reinforce.

  2. Step 2

    Fold fabric in half, right sides together, to create a rectangle 20 inches wide by 18 inches tall, with the fold at the bottom.

  3. Step 3

    Fold down and crease the top raw edge to create a 2-inch hem on the top, front, and back.

  4. Step 4

    Mark where you would like the straps to go and staple the straps onto one side of the bag. Only staple through the strap and the folded over fabric, so that the staples do not show on what will be the front of the bag. Repeat on other side.

  5. Step 5

    Use two strips of duct tape to cover the staples and "hem" the top of the bag. Trim the extra duct tape with scissors.

  6. Step 6

    Fold the bag so right sides are together. Mark a seam line 1/2 inch from each edge. Staple up the sides of bag along the seam line. Cover seam with a long piece of duct tape, folded lengthwise over the raw edge. Trim the extra duct tape.

  7. Step 7

    Create a gusset by flattening the inside-out bag with the seams together. Mark a line perpendicular to the seam, about 3 1/2 inches from the "point" at the bottom of each seam. Staple along this line. Cover the staples with duct tape and trim excess.

  8. Step 8

    Turn bag right-side out.

The Martha Stewart Show, October 2008



Reviews (53)

  • mallen1230 23 Feb, 2011

    There were some comments on other options to using the iron-on vinyl, which in some areas can be hard to find. I saw Jodi on the Today show a while back making a tote bag out of a t-shirt. Instead of using vinyl she covered that side with duct tape (she used black) which gave it the necessary strength, as we all know how stretchy t-shirts can be. I have a project coming up with several 14-16 year old girls, and I plan on making this project with duct tape rather than trying to find the vinyl.

  • creativitybuzz 7 Nov, 2010

    Also, the kids at my school make very durable wallets from duct tape or just taped over paper. Can we use duct tape for the handles instead of webbing?

  • creativitybuzz 7 Nov, 2010

    Has anyone tried to laminate material? I have both a hot and cold laminator (for paper) at work and I'm wondering if either (or both) would work like iron-on vinyl?

  • creativitybuzz 7 Nov, 2010

    You can get duct tape in a wide variety of colors at Target

  • CraftsRFun 19 Nov, 2009

    Has anyone tried using oil cloth instead of regular fabric and iron-on vinyl?

  • Euleza 20 Feb, 2009

    I also did not buy the webbing. I just used wide binding at it worked great.

  • Euleza 20 Feb, 2009

    This was the easiest craft I I have ever made. I did make it out ot regular fabric without any iron on or vinyl. It will work great for a dance bag or anything. I love it. It took less than 10 minutes to make. Thanks so much for the great idea.

  • Euleza 20 Feb, 2009

    Has anyone just tried to use regular fabric, not vinyl? I am going to try it, but I wondered if anyone else out there had tried that. Has anyone tried the shower curtains you can buy from one of the dollar stores? If this works that would really keep the costs down. I will try that too and let you know if it worked.

  • wooden45 1 Feb, 2009

    Here is the link to that bagl. I tried it, but it turned out too small.

  • wendys53 28 Jan, 2009

    ...after 20minutes of searching your site, i still cannot find your "newest" no-sew-bag made from Ultrasuede. It is in your Feb'09 issue, under "good things"-"market value". The "blurb" states that i can download the template from, i would if i could :)...h e l p

  • rosewhite 25 Dec, 2008

    I found it on line( iron on vinyl) And then I found it at Joan Fabrics. It was about 5.00 per yd. But only 17" wide. It took me about 2 totes to get it down correctly. Now I'm having trouble getting material for handles in the correct color or just off white. But the ones I gave with a gift were a big hit.

  • kananiaupuni 1 Dec, 2008

    Every craft/fabric store I have walked into never even heard of iron on vinyl. I found it online on for 4.79 per yard. FYI found the paperpro stapler at a target store.

  • ayjohnson 21 Nov, 2008

    MsTee has a good suggestion to staple up the sides then fold over the top. I wish I has red that before I made my first one. I got my vinyl at Quilters Warehouse online. The ones with the vinyl have great structure. I put my vinyl on the outside! Love it.

  • RochelleFS 18 Nov, 2008

    Does anyone know if Con-tact paper can be used instead of the iron on vinyl?

  • kanuk 14 Nov, 2008

    Does anyone know where to find the iron on vinyl at a good price in Canada? Best price I have found is 2 yards for $11.97 at Walmart. Not so cheap in the Frozen North!
    Thanks! :)

  • paulamcknight 13 Nov, 2008

    Iron on vinyl was found at our Wal Mart - 10 yards for $11.87.

  • ladybug03 10 Nov, 2008

    I have to say I was able to find the iron in vinyl at joann and it's 2 yards for $8.99 at first I didn't see it because it was hidingfrom me.. but I found it. Thanks for the idea I will be giving these as Christmas gifts this year !

  • ladybug03 10 Nov, 2008

    I have to say I was able to find the iron in vinyl at joann and it's 2 yards for $8.99 at first I didn't see it because it was hidingfrom me.. but I found it. Thanks for the idea I will be giving these as Christmas gifts this year !

  • MsTee 7 Nov, 2008

    I really love this and plan to introduce it to my 16 year old daughter and her BFFs next sleepover. One suggestion is to unfold the top after stapling the handles, tape the side seams together then fold over to tape the top raw edge hem down. This gives a more finished top edge without side seams showing. Just make sure the seams are turned the same direction at the fold and at the edge of the hem before taping. You can still lay flat to tape hem and trim off excess length or wrap around.

  • h2obearr 6 Nov, 2008

    I was impressed that both the written instructions and the video were provided.The video was fantastic and Jodi Kahn was an exceptional teacher.Thank you,Martha!

  • Ldybugsrus 4 Nov, 2008

    Can't wait to buy the book. But buying the iron-on vinyl is problamatic. We have a Joann's super store here and this is not something they carry. also I assume being so close to halloween they were out of the nylon webbing. I'll make due with cotton. I found the iron on vinyl at joann's on line $10 something and after shipping and taxes it is $18 something. good thing it will make 2 bags.

  • LisaSD 3 Nov, 2008

    The bag is sturdy as made but some further tips are to put a piece of duct tape behind the flap, where the staples for the straps are. This prevents the edges of the staples poking through to the outside of the bag. I made my first bag out of a beautiful, sturdy material from Wal Mart with taupe background and white

  • LisaSD 3 Nov, 2008

    Made this bag for my mom and it was easy and she loves it!

    You can buy the Heat n Bond vinyl at JoAnn Fabrics. It costs $8.99 for 2 yards, so you will make two bags out of one purchase. Get their 40% or 50% off coupon to save money!

    Wal-Mart had many different colors of "Duck" tape brand duct tape (Brown, white, beige, red, silver, etc.) for $3.27.

    Use Fabric Transfer paper to make the labels. If someone has the book, it would be great if you could post for us the specifics.

  • littlemartha94 3 Nov, 2008

    It's a "Paper Pro" stapler. Awesome brand. Some can go through like 50 sheets of paper. I think you can get them at office depot, or other office supply stores. I really want to make this!

  • BOOTSANNE 3 Nov, 2008

    I saw this segment on the tv show and immediately got the supplies and made one - looks really great - but won't hold much of anything - I had a small book and small bottle of water and the tape wouldn't hold - the staples were coming out as well.

  • Ruth3 3 Nov, 2008

    The video is very helpful. The link is on the picture of the bag. I'm going to try one but sew it up instead. Either way, I'm amazed at how cute these bags are!

  • eileento 3 Nov, 2008

    Love this project! What was the brand of the stapler and where can it be found?

  • fredalee 3 Nov, 2008

    Obviously a lot of people shop differently than I shop. This bag would last, at the most, one trip to the grocery store before both the tape and the staples gave out.

  • origamidoll 3 Nov, 2008

    You need both the vinyl AND the dec fabric. The tape won't stick to fabric well but sticks well to vinyl - and that is why the vinyl goes on the INSIDE of the fabric. Stapes would tear through vinyl used alone so you need the dec fabric to help. The two fabrics need to be bonded to really stabilize.

  • szperry 3 Nov, 2008

    Hey guys, I would really like to use this project as my monthly craft project with the girls. How do I save the video?

  • cbetty 27 Oct, 2008

    What type of fabric was used for the name tags?

  • okelly 23 Oct, 2008

    is the iron-on vinyl necessary if you use vinyl instead of a lighter, cotton fabric?

  • ONEY 21 Oct, 2008


  • lmorrell 21 Oct, 2008

    This is not as easy as they made it look--though worth the time for a fun/unusual project. I'm a sewer so it nearly killed me not to sew! I did stitch the handles on to secure because I didn't want to go to the time and money just to have the bag fall apart after a few uses. The vinyl on the inside is a MUST. Don't even bother trying to get tape to stick to fabric. It would make a fun Trick-or-Treat bag if it were much smaller.

  • ms411 9 Oct, 2008

    I love this idea, and was thinking you could also print photos on white muslin, adhere them to the fabric using some kind of fabric glue.

    BUT, I see the vinyl is only 17" wide, and the fabric width is much wider. I'm not sure I like the idea of having several vinyl pieces in/on the bag. I'd prefer a continuous lining. Any ideas?


  • nebi 8 Oct, 2008

    I have the book and it tells you on page 29 and 30 how to make the personalized tags. You use something called fabric transfer paper which you print out on an inkjet printer. Also, I have found white, black and red duct tape at Home Depot. I've made a few projects in the book alreday. They really are easy, and came out great.

  • CathleenT 8 Oct, 2008

    I'm looking to purchase the Heat 'n Bond Vinyl....any ideas where it can be bought....I've looked at Michael's and far no luck. I live in Ontario.
    Thanks. Cathy.

  • ClearlyShanna 8 Oct, 2008

    I know how you could make the labels - print on twill tape. Find a wide twill tape, type up want you want to say in Word and print it out on paper. Adhere the tape to the paper over the wording. I use a removable adhesive. Run it through the printer again and it'll print onto your twill tape.
    Set your printer to transparency setting. You don't want too much ink to come out! This will work for any cotton based ribbon. Donn n n t try it with the shiny ribbon. It just makes a runny mess.

  • mocharose 7 Oct, 2008

    Sorry I ment Michaels

  • mocharose 7 Oct, 2008

    you can get colored duct tape at Joanns or Mchales too.

  • soupg 7 Oct, 2008

    If you can't get the colored duct tape just use a coordinating color for gray. ;-)

  • soupg 7 Oct, 2008

    what about the little tags that they put in the side before the closed up the sides, like names or cute phrase. Where do you those or how do you make them?

  • wrenay 7 Oct, 2008

    You can buy colored duct tape at Staples or Blick Art.

  • Alabaxter 7 Oct, 2008

    Where do you get the white duct tape? All we've got is the gray.

  • Alabaxter 7 Oct, 2008

    Where do you get the white duct tape? All we've got is the gray.

  • citylinda 7 Oct, 2008

    I love Jodi Kahn's book "Simply Sublime Bags: 30 No-Sew, Low-Sew Projects" (available on It is filled with fun, easy projects. I can't wait to have a "bag party" for my daughter's birthday!

  • Helere 6 Oct, 2008

    On the show they made little labels but the online directions don't mention them. What are they made of? How are the words/names put on? What size are they? Thanks.

  • MSLO_Sara 6 Oct, 2008

    To make more of Jodi's crafts, check out her book, "Simply Sublime Bags: 30 No-Sew, Low-Sew Projects" --

  • SouthernLivingSharon 6 Oct, 2008

    PaperPro stapler. Check them out at

  • evelynmarie 6 Oct, 2008

    If you go to the print out page, at the bottom it tells you the name of the book and the publisher. I can't wait for my grandchildren to come so we can make these.

  • JuliaAg 6 Oct, 2008

    This is a great project for Girl Scouts. I have already emailed the link to several leaders. Girls could make these then donate them to womens shelters. They could also doa smaller version and fill with goodies for the holidays. Already planning when my girls can be doing them.

  • DeeRN 6 Oct, 2008

    I love these bags, but where can I find the book to make more bags. When I watched the show, I didn't get the name or the publisher. Can someone help me out. I want the book too.

  • Jan17 6 Oct, 2008

    This project would be wonderful for grocery bags!!