**Please scroll down the page for the links to the free patterns**
Make an ordinary tote bag even better (and more functional) by adding a top zipper closure to it. And to help you do just that, here you'll find a collection of over a dozen free zip-top tote bag patterns gathered from all over the web!
And of course, what's great about a tote bag with a zipper is that you can zip it closed and all your stuff won't come spilling out of your bag if it happens to topple over. (It can also provide you with extra security if you happen to encounter any sticky-fingered pick-pockets!).
And of course by making your own tote bag instead of buying one, you get to choose your fabric and adjust the bag to suit your needs - making it larger or smaller or adjusting the length of the handles.
And if you plan to use your tote bag to carry heavy items like books, just be sure to use a sturdy fabric like a heavy cotton canvas. Or, if you've fallen in love with a lighter weight fashion fabric, you can back your fabric pieces with fusible interfacing to make the bag more durable. Or, as an alternative, you can line your bag with a second fabric. You may also want to reinforce where the handles attach to the bag by sewing over your previous stitches or by using a smaller stitch length in your sewing machine.
And because installing a recessed zipper into a fabric bag can be a bit tricky, a zippered tote bag probably wouldn't be a suitable first project for a beginner who's just learning how to sew (unless she has an experienced helper by her side). And even if you're an experienced seamstress, if you find that the written instructions in these tutorials are a bit hard to follow, there are some excellent instructional videos sewers have posted to YouTube which may provide some help. Just search the keyword "how to sew a recessed zipper into a tote bag."
Also, this page may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a commission if you purchase something from one of these websites (but the patterns linked to should be free).