Making Totes, Purses & Bags


Quilters love making totes, purses, and bags! And we have the numbers to prove it!

We asked you to tell us about your obsessions with totes, purses, and bags – you are such a creative bunch! We learned so much about making bags and can’t wait to share it with you.

Before we begin, let’s clear up the most asked question during the survey, “What is the difference between a bag and a tote?”

  • First, this can depend on where you are from. Different parts of the country refer to purses as bags, and some use all three terms interchangeably.
  • Generally speaking, a purse is used to carry personal items. It is often small and carried close to the body.
  • A tote is larger and used to carry a number of items.
  • A bag is a more all-purpose means to carry items.

Who makes totes, purses, and bags? Nearly 98% of the quilter surveyed said they do or have at least tried!

Which is more popular?

  • Totes win with 88% of quilters having made at least one.
  • Bags came in second with 75%.
  • Purses wasn’t far behind with 71%.

That means not only have most quilters made a tote, purse, or bag, but they’ve made more than one of these!

What else are you creative souls making? Here’s what you shared…

  • Duffle bags
  • Tool cadies
  • Wallets
  • Eyeglass Case
  • Backpacks
  • Cosmetic Bags
  • Tissue Holders
  • Hanging Dress/Suit Carrier
  • Diaper Bag
  • Tablet Bag
  • Fanny Packs
  • Sewing Notions Bags
  • Template Bags
  • Lots of Bags and Totes to hold quilting supplies

Who do you make them for?

  • 3 out of 5 quilters keeps their family supplied with totes, purses, and bags
  • While 1 out of 5 make them for friends
  • Several wrote in that they sell their creations or donate them
  • One very special quilter makes them for super heroes. I want to meet you!

What is the most important feature?

  • #1 is Pockets! This was backed up with the write-in comments declaring organization as paramount!
  • Size came in second, followed by handles and closures
  • Functionality, style, and artistic appeal were strong among the comments
  • And of course, magical compartments!

Do you have a favorite bag, purse, or tote you love to make? Share it with us in the comments! We love to hear from you.

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Started out making quilts for family, then discovered bags, purses and totes. Love making them more than making quilts, but truly love both. My favorite is the Camden bag or the Rockport bag. Have made many of both and of all sizes. Downsize the patterns for a “purse” version. And I make lots of dresses and shorts for church missions that go to underprivleged countries. Just plain love to see every day.


When I took the survey, I forgot to add that I recently made dice bags for my son and his role-playing gamer group. These were lined drawstring bags, each with a shrinky-dink badge with their group’s emblem on it. I found several ideas online and combined them for the final design. Fun and different kind of bag for me!