children messenger bag sewing tote

How to sew a simple sling bag for kids

Sewing a simple sling tote bag for your kids is fast and easy with this quick and free tutorial. In fact, this pattern is so easy- a beginning sewist could easily sew one together, making this a perfect project for a rainy afternoon, a craft camp or just as a chance to get your budding sewist excited about sewing her very own tote.

sling tote for kids pattern

I first designed this pattern three years ago and my daughters still use them all the time! When Riley Blake Designs offered to send me fabric from the new line Kindred Spirits as part of their blog tour, I knew these sweet prints would be a perfect fit for this bag- especially since the littlest didn’t have her very own and we needed to fix that!

These sweet feminine prints are perfect for a girly little sling tote that can be worn on the shoulder or as a crossbody tote.

Simple Crossbody bag or sling tote tutorial

I am re-writing the tutorial here with a few minor changes, including instructions to create a color blocked version, and options for finishes to your opening! Let’s SEW!

Sew a Simple Sling Tote or Crossbody bag for Kids

 Read all instructions before beginning. Seam allowances are as noted in directions.

Fabric Requirements:

  • 1/4 yard of fabric for strap and accent on bottom of tote
  • 2 fat quarters for body and lining of tote- *3 if making a color blocked version
  • buttons or tassel for embellishment- optional

Cutting instructions:

cutting instructions for sling bag


  • 1- 3″ X 36″ strip for strap (the blue fabric)
  • 2- 3 1/2″ X 8″ strips for accent on bottom of bag (blue fabric)
  • 2- 8″ X 13″ pieces for lining (light green fabric)
  • 2- 8″ X 13″ pieces for outside of pouch- *If you are doing the color blocked version you will need these out of two different fabrics, if not, then they will be the fabric you chose for the outside of the tote. (Dark green and gray fabrics)

Adding accent strips:

sew the accent pieces to bottom of exterior fabric

  1. Place your exterior fabric right side up. *if your exterior fabric is directional, you  may choose to have the back piece upside down so the direction will be correct when you fold down the flap.
  2. Measure 3″ up from the bottom.
  3. Line up the accent fabric, right side down, with this measurement. *note: if your accent fabric is directional- make sure the TOP of the accent piece is lined up with the 3″ mark.
  4. Sew along the accent piece using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
  5. Press the accent piece down so it is right side up.
  6. Top stitch along the seam of the accent piece.

Preparing the Strap:

press strap for sling tote
  1.  Press the 3″X36″ strip in half along the long side.
  2. Open up this fold and bring the raw edges into the center line. (top strip in picture)
  3. Press.
  4. Close the original fold and press again. (bottom strip)
  5. Edge stitch along both sides of the strap.

Creating the exterior and lining of tote:

attach strap to tote
  1.  Place one of your exterior pieces right side up.
  2. Measure 4″ down from the top of the piece on both sides.
  3. Line up the edges of the straps under this 4″ mark, pin in place.
  4. Place second exterior piece right sides together on top of the first piece. Make sure the strap is pulled out of the way.
  5. Pin around the two long sides and bottom of the tote.
  6. Sew around using a 1/2″ seam allowance. *I like to back stitch over both sides of the strap as I sew around to reinforce this part of the seam. Back stitch at the beginning and ending of your sewing.
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 for the lining leaving a 3-4″ opening in the bottom seam for turning the tote right side out at the end.
    insert exterior into lining
  8. Clip the seam allowance in the bottom corners of both pieces.
  9. Turn the exterior part of the bag right side out, push out the seams and press.
  10. Slide the exterior of the tote inside the lining. *I find it easiest to pull the strap out of the opening in the lining so it doesn’t get caught in the top seam.
  11. Line up the side seams and pin. Continue lining up the two top seams as you go around the opening of the tote.
    add tassel embellishment if desired
  12. If you are using a tassel to embellish your tote, you will insert it inside the top seam now. Center it on the side that will be the back of the tote between the lining and exterior. Make sure you have at least 1/2″ of space between the top of the tassel and the top of the fabric. *I put a knot in the hanging threads to give it something to “grab” the threads in the seam- again, make sure it’s just over 1/2″ from the top of the tassel.
  13. Sew around the top opening of the tote using a 1/2″ seam allowance. *If you are adding the tassel, I recommend back stitching over the hanging threads a couple of times to secure it.
  14. Turn the tote right side out through the opening in the bottom of the lining.
  15. Fold under the seam allowance of the opening and sew shut.
  16. Push the lining into the exterior of the bag and press the top seam well
  17. Top stitch around the top seam.
  18. Fold over the top of the tote where it hits the top of the strap. If you like you can press this fold.
add button embellishment

 If you are using a button as an embellishment, add it after the tote is finished. I like to use a large button as a “weight” to hold the flap down a bit.

use elastic to create a closure

You can also use two buttons and a short length of elastic to create a more secure closure for your sling tote. This would be especially useful if your child plans to use it as a purse. In which case, you might want to sew her up a small pouch, wrist strap and chapstick holder (tutorial coming very soon!).

sling tote for kids

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  • Reply
    Little Quiltsong
    April 28, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    These are so, so pretty. Love them!!

  • Reply
    Patti A.
    May 8, 2019 at 11:52 am

    So darling, what a great fast project to make for all the little girls I know. Thanks for the tute!

    • Reply
      Amy Chappell
      May 16, 2019 at 10:33 pm

      Thank you so much! They are so much fun to sew! xoxo

  • Reply
    May 12, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    I was just going to look up a pattern for a little purse for my 3 (almost) yr old granddaughter, and this pops up!! ♡ it! I am going to get my fabric tomorrow! Thank you so much for the tutorial!

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