Having a good tote bag with a sturdy bottom is endlessly useful for weekend get-aways, trips to the beach, carrying groceries home, or carrying a blanket and snacks to the park for a picnic. Sometimes the bottom of your tote bag wears out, breaks, or weakens when it gets wet. Maybe a great bag doesn’t have a sturdy bottom to begin with. Luckily, it is a pretty easy thing to add – and it is easy to make the bag bottom just as sturdy as it needs to be.
I made a very large tote bag recently (26″ x 22.5″ | 66cm x 57cm) and I knew that the only way the bag would truly be useful is if it had a nice sturdy flat bottom to support what I place in the bag and to prevent everything from crunching together. Click here for more information on how I made the bag.
Chipboard: All-Purpose Chipboard
Fabric (I matched the fabric color to the bag lining to it is nearly invisible)
Glue – Mod Podge (Wood glue also works really well to glue Chip Board together): Plaid Mod Podge Gloss
Straight Edge Blade (Box cutter)
Paint Brush for spreading glue
Hand Sewing Needles
If you are replacing a broken bottom to a bag, measure the size of the piece. Remove the broken piece from the bag. If the broken board is really built in, you might just add an extra bottom to the bag.
If you are adding a bottom to a bag you own or are making, here is a good metric for determining the size the chipboard needs to be:
Measure the bottom of the bag. Reduce each dimension by 1/4″ (0.6cm).
For the bag I made, the bottom of the bag lining was 5.75″ x 19.5″ (14.6cm x 49.5cm). I cut my chipboard to 5.5″ x 19.25″ (14cm x 48.9cm). This allows for a little space around the board for the fabric and so it fits inside the bottom and doesn’t distort the bag.
The sturdiness desired can easily be achieved by layering chipboard. 1 layer is going to be pretty good for light weight objects. I layered 2 pieces of chipboard and it is very sturdy. For a heavier weight/sturdier bottom I would layer 3 pieces.
Using a bit of Mod Podge (spread with a brush) or wood glue join the two pieces together.
Test the fit of the chipboard in the bottom of your bag by setting it in place. If the board is too large, trim it down for a better fit.
Cut a piece of fabric to cover the board. The piece of fabric will be attached along the short ends so you need to leave a margin/seam allowance of 3/4″ – 1″ (2-3cm) on either end of the board. The fabric should be long enough to wrap all the way around the board and overlap by 1-1.5″ (3-3.5cm).
Spread a good amount of Mod Podge along the center of one side of your board. Press one fabric edge into the glue to hold it in place.
Apply glue to the opposite edge of the fabric. Fold and press in place so the fabric wraps tightly around the board. Set aside until glue is dry.
Once sewn in place, the fabric around the board won’t experience much moving about and stress. A seam finish is generally unnecessary but light finishing won’t hurt anything. I pinked the cut edges to reduce potential fraying.
Turn your bag (or bag lining) inside out. Prepare a sturdy hand sewing needle with matching thread.
Fold the seam allowance/margin so it will sit beneath the board when the bag is finished. Tack the board in place by sewing the seam allowance to the bottom of the bag.
Tack all 4 corners in place.
Turn your bag (or bag lining) right side out and make sure the board is pushed into all the corners and the seam allowance is tucked under the board.
It is a simple project that will make your life easier.