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Buckle and Grommet Tote Bags

 A single yard of fabric is all you need to sew the body of a simple tote bag. Follow these basic instructions, then customize your brand-new bag with buckles or grommets and your favorite strap material. 

Photography: Sarah Anne Ward

Source: Martha Stewart



    1 yard medium-weight canvas (for a bag that measures 15 by 11 inches; more may be needed for a larger bag)

  • Sewing supplies

  • 4 5/8-inch buckles

  • Rotary leather punch

  • 2 lightweight cowhide leather strips, each 5/8 inch wide, cut to desired length

  • Grommet kit

  •  Ribbon, cord, or leather strips, cut to desired length (if using grommets)


  1. Cut a piece of canvas that measures 35 by 12 inches. To make a custom-size bag, cut a piece of fabric that's double the desired length plus 5 inches, and 1 inch wider than desired bag size. 

  2. Fold piece of fabric in half widthwise. Pin two short sides together. Sew pinned sides with a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Press seams open, and finish with pinking shears or a zigzag stitch. Cut off corners at an angle, being careful not to snip into seam. 

  3. Make a double hem at top: Fold edge over 1/2 inch, press, then fold again 2 inches. Press, pin, and edge-stitch all the way around. Turn bag right-side out. Finish the bag by adding buckles or grommets and straps. 

  4. To add buckles: Using strong thread, sew two buckles each to top edge of bag front and back, spacing as desired (ours are 2 inches from bag sides). Stitch around each buckle’s center bar 
several times to ensure secure attachment. 


  5. Punch holes 1 inch apart in leather strips, starting about 
2 inches from ends. Slide ends through buckles and fasten.

  6. To add grommets: Mark desired grommet placement on bag front and back 
by tracing inside of a grommet opening with a pencil.

  7. Using craft knife, cut an X in marked circles. Set 2 grommets each on front and back of bag, following kit instructions.

  8. Ribbon handles: Slide ribbon ends through grommets at bag front. Fold ends under ¼ inch twice; pin to other side of ribbon at bag top. Sew to secure. Repeat at bag back. Cord handles: Thread cord ends through grommets; knot to secure.

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