How to Make an Oversized Tote Bag with Oly*Fun

Pack up your towels, snacks, sunscreen and all your other weekend boating essentials in an extra-large tote bag you sew yourself! This bag is fun and easy to make and is handy to have around when bringing gear to and from your boat. We’re going to show you how to make one for yourself!

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

For our bag we used a new fabric, Fairfield’s Oly*Fun Multi-Purpose Fabric. This fabric is a lightweight polypropylene material that is similar to the material used for re-usable grocery bags. Oly*Fun is water-resistant, machine washable and has edges that don’t fray. It can be sewn, glued, stapled, pinned or tied and you can write on it with markers or embellish it with paint. It’s perfect for everything from bags to kids’ crafts and so much more! This is a material that can really unleash your creativity. Each craft pack of Oly*Fun is 20 inches wide and 3 yards long.

We wanted to make a functional bag using only 1 craft pack of Oly*Fun and we came up with this design, and kept things pretty simple. The bag features a zippered top and one large interior pocket. If you want a fancier design, you can use this bag as a starting point for getting more creative with customizations for your bag. For example, you could add a pocket to the inside or the outside or add color-contrasting straps. The possibilities are endless!

Tote Bag Materials:

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

How to Make an Oversized Tote Bag with Oly*Fun

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

1. Unroll your craft pack of fabric. For the main panels of your bag, cut 2 pieces that measure 20” (the full width) by 22”. We left our fabric folded in half here for ease of use, but you can un-fold it completely if you prefer.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

2. Cut a piece of fabric that measures 7” by 64” (which should be all the length that’s left of the Oly*Fun). This is your bag’s boxing.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

3. Then cut a piece of fabric measuring 4” x the remainder of the length for the straps. Then cut that piece in half lengthwise.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

4. On the long side of the main bag panels, fold down two inches and pin in place to make a 20” x 20” square.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

5. Take the strap pieces and fold them in thirds widthwise. Pin in place.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

6. Take the strap pieces to the sewing machine and sew down each long edge of the straps about one presser foot’s width away from the edge.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

7. Sew two rows of stitches along the top fold of your main bag pieces.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

8. Measure four inches in from either side of the bag tops (the side you just sewed) and pin your straps in place.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

9. Sew the straps down using a box stitch. You can make an “X” in your box or just diagonal.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

10. To create a zipper stop, cut a scrap piece of fabric about 2” x 5”. Fold it in half and then in half again, sandwiching the zipper in the center. Pin in place on the end of the zipper. Sew the stop in place by stitching along the open edge, across the width of the zipper.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

11. Pin the zipper to the wrong sides of the bag panels, leaving about 4 inches of the zipper (the end with the stop) hanging off one end of the bag. We only left 2 inches of the zipper in our photo, but 4 inches would have worked better.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

12. Install your zipper slider and cut the open end of the zipper so it’s even with the end of your bag.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

13. Place a pin 1 inch in from the side of your bag that has the open zipper. Fold half of the zipper back at that point on the bag. Repeat this process on the opposite side of the bag.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

14. Once you have everything pinned in place, use a zipper foot on your sewing machine to sew the zipper to the top of your bag. Sew right next to the zipper teeth on each side of the bag. Stop sewing 1 inch from the closed end of the zipper. Sew a second row of stitches next to the first to reinforce the top. Be sure to keep your handles out of the way when sewing the zipper!

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

15. Find the center of the bottom of your bag on each side as well as the center of your boxing piece.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

16. Match up the center points and pin the boxing in place around the bag. Clip a relief notch in the corners of the boxing if necessary to smoothly make the turn. Leave the excess at the top as is for now.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

17. Fold down the excess at the top of the boxing so it lines up with the top of the bag. Stitch it in place with two rows of stitching to match the rest of the bag top.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

18. Stitch around the three sides of the bag to attach the boxing.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

19. Unzip the bag and turn it right side out.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

20. Flatten out the inside seam and pin it flat in place. Then sew around row of stitches on top of the flat seam. When you reach the bottom corners of the bag, stop 1/2” away and backstitch. Turn the corner and start sewing a new seam 1/2” away from the corner.

How to Make an Oversize Tote Bag

21. Optional last step: We didn’t like the way our zipper stop looked so we trimmed the excess width of the fabric and added another half circle of stitches for a cleaner look.

Now all that’s left to do is fill your bag up with goodies and head out for the weekend!


We have more tutorials for fun ways you can use Oly*Fun fabric coming up on the blog in the next couple weeks. Be sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss a post!

You can find all the materials needed to make this tote bag at Sailrite.com.

What would you make with Oly*Fun fabric? Share your ideas in the comments. We might just create a how-to based on your suggestions!

6 comments
  1. Nikki, I want to make a storage/carry bag for my inflatable dinghy. Do you have recommendations for a material to use? I will be storing the dinghy deflated and in the bag on deck most of the time, but want to also take the boat (in the bag) with me in my car. I’m thinking that Oly*Fun isn’t the right fabric, but I’m stumped as to what to try.

  2. ok, hi, i bought the 80% polypropylene, 20 % polyester, Oly-Fun craft material, what can i do with it?can i glue and cover an old purse with it?is it strong enough?or is it only good for somewhat-fragile tote bags?could this be waterproof,and glue a rain-cape together?I was thinking of covering an old purse, cause the outside has holes;but its a solid purse.Yeah,i buy plastic-synthetic purses.they’re great for this rainy climate, but I wanta know how strong, and how long lasting this stuff is. this is the only place i can find projects with it. thanks!!!–gets wet in Oregon

    • Nikki said:

      Oly*Fun is a versatile craft fabric that you can use for many different projects! I think it would work well for your purse cover project because it is water-resistant and strong. If it will be supporting the full weight of your purse you might want to consider sewing the cover instead of gluing it, because that will add extra strength. The glue would be a weak point, not the fabric. I hope that helps you!

  3. Tracy Wimberley said:

    Would this fabric be durable and strong enough for a child’s sling chair?

    • Nikki said:

      Hi Tracy,
      I wouldn’t recommend using Oly*Fun for a sling chair, even for a child. Its primary use is for more craft like projects. It’s similar to the material used to make reusable grocery bags.

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