I spend a great bit of time looking for free patterns on the Internet and this is a great one from House on the Hill Road blog. Beautiful, aren't they.
Before school ended a few weeks ago, she made these tote bags for her daughter’s teachers. I love bags like these. They are perfect for just about any use - books, groceries, pool, and projects. They made them out of canvas and left unlined so they really came together quickly. The pattern is included in the tutorial. The Teacher Tote Tutorial can be found on the Tutorials & Patterns page or go ahead and click this link to download it now. If you make one or more, please post a photo of it on the House on Hill Road Flickr page so I can admire your good work.
A few notes: If you wanted to make this out of quilter's cotton, you should probably line it. It won't be sturdy enough if you don't. Basically it’s the same as constructing the exterior of the bag. Cut your lining pieces 2 inches shorter in length than the exterior pieces (so 17" wide by 18" long), sew the lining like the exterior and then place it in the bag BEFORE you hem the top edge. Line up the side seams and fold the exterior of the bag over the lining. When you topstitch the top hem, it'll catch the lining and keep it in place.
Check it out.