Tutorial: Reversible Tote Bag

Tutorial: Reversible Tote Bag

I made this tote bag for the Sew?  It's a fairly "classic" style  - but I've made it a little more hip with retro fabric from Reprodepot.

Here's the tutorial:

Finished dimensions
19" long
14" high
21" long straps


1 yard of fabric A (here, the print fabric)
1 yard of fabric B (here, the solid, or "lining" fabric)
1/2 yard sew-on Velcro (you can use stick-on if you want but I prefer the sew-on kind)
interfacing (optional - if your fabric is on the lighter side)


Cut out your pieces-

Two 20" x 15" rectangles each from fabric A and B (these will be the BODY of the bag)
Four 9" x 8" rectangles each from fabric A and B (these will be the POCKETS - there are 4 in all)
Two strips, 2 1/2" wide and 50" long, each from fabric A and B (these will be the STRAPS)

[This would be the time to add interfacing if you're using it - either sew or iron it on to the body pieces and the straps; the pockets won't need it.]

Prepare the pockets-

1. Pin two pocket pieces together along one long (9") edge.  Stitch, trim the seam, turn right side out, press.  
2. Cut four pieces of Velcro (furry side) each 4" long.  Center one piece about 1" below the topstitched edge of the pocket.  Stitch in place, making sure to only go through one layer of fabric.  This will be the inside of your pocket.
3. Topstitch 1/4" from the top edge of the pocket.  You can also stitch the raw edges together at the other three sides, if you'd like.
4. Prepare the other three pockets in the same way.

Attach pockets to body pieces-

1. Lay out one of the body pieces, with a long side (20") at bottom.  Find the center of the fabric by folding it in half and making a crease.  Do the same with one of the pockets.  Line up the centers and the raw edges and pin the pocket to the body piece at the bottom center.  Pin down the bottom corners and the sides.

2. Before you pin the top corners down, you need to attach the other half of the Velcro to the body of the bag.  Cut 4 pieces of Velcro (prickly side), each 4" long.  Use the furry half of the Velcro on the pocket to mark the position of the other half on the body piece.  Pin the prickly Velcro in place and stitch down.

3. Pin pocket to body at top corners.  Stitch the pocket in place on three sides.  (Yes, the raw edges of the pocket are showing - but don't worry!  They'll be covered by the straps.)
4. Prepare the other three pockets in the same way.

Sew body pieces together at sides and top-

1. At bottom corners of body pieces, cut out a 2x2" square.  (You're going to do a square-bottom for the bag - as in the Jordy tutorial here ).

2. Pin body pieces together at sides.  (Make sure to pin 2 fabric A pieces together and 2 fabric B pieces together).  Stitch and press seams open.  Do this for both fabric A and fabric B.  You now have two pieces (which I'm just going to call A and B at this point).
[If you want to add a closure at the top of the bag - such as some ribbon ties, or a loop on one side for a button attachment, now is the time to do it.  Pin the tie(s) to the raw edge of A, pointing downward.]

3. Turn A rightside out and slip it inside B (which is still wrongside out).  Pin the two pieces together at the top of the bag, matching the side seams.  Stitch, trim seam, turn rightside out, press, and topstitch 1/4" from the edge through both layers of fabric.  The bag now has a finished edge at the top and raw edges at the bottom:

Adding the straps-

1. Press in 1/2" on both long raw edges of each strap piece.  Use a high setting and plenty of steam to make sure these pressed edges stay flat.  Repeat for all 4 strap pieces.

2. Measure the height of the bag, from top to bottom at the center.  (If you're following my measurements, it should be 14 1/2").  Measure in 14 1/2" from each end of each strap piece and mark these places with pins.  The portion of the strap in the middle of these two markers will be the bit of the strap that sticks up over the top of the bag.  The end bits of the straps are going to be stitched down to the bag itself.

3. Lay out an A strap with the pressed edges facing up.  Place a B strap face-down on top of it.  This will give you a double-faced strap with pressed edges facing inward.  Pin the strap pieces together between the two markers.  Stitch the straps together 1/4" in from these edges.  Leave the ends of the strap separated for now.  It should look like this:

4. Now you're going to stitch the strap ends in place to the body of the bag, with the pressed edges over the raw edges of the pockets.  Lay out the bag with side A facing up, and lap the ends of strap B over it.  Mark the placement line for the strap as follows: measure 3/4" in from raw edges of the pocket and 6" from the side seam.  Lay the edge of the strap along this line and pin in place.  This will center the strap (which should be 1 1/2" wide) over the raw edge of the pocket. 

 Do the same for the other side of the pocket with the other end of strap B.  Topstitch 1/4" from each edge of the strap, making sure to only stitch through ONE layer of bag fabric.  The best way to do this is to open out the B side of the bag while sewing, so that it doesn't get caught underneath.  Make sure also that you stop short of the top edge of the bag when you're sewing your topstitching on the straps.  Once you've finished sewing down one side of the strap, do the same with the other side.  (This will be strap A sewn to side B of the bag).  Then repeat with the second strap.

5. Once the straps are all attached to the bag, you need to stitch closed the little gaps near the top edge of the bag.  Sew through all thicknesses to secure the straps to the top of the bag:


1.  Now all that's left is to sew up the bottom of the bag.  Turn everything inside out and pin the two bottom pieces of A together.  Stitch, trim seam, and press open.

2. Fold each corner of A so that the side seam and bottom seam meet in the middle.  Stitch across this seam and trim.  Repeat at the other corner.  (You can refer to the Jordy bag tutorial if you're not clear on this part).

3. Pin the two bottom pieces of B together.  You're going to leave an opening in the middle of Being between the two straps - so that you can turn everything right side-out again.  Stitch two seams in the bottom of Bending and the beginning just inside the straps.  

4. Sew the two corners as you did for A.  Trim all seams.

5. Pull the rightside of the bag through the hole in the bottom of B.  The last step is to close the hole in the bottom of B - you can do this by turning in the seam allowance and topstitching very close to the edge of the fabric (as I did) or you can slip-stitch it closed.

Your bag is now done and can be used on either side.  Here's what the reverse side looks like:

Tutorial: Reversible Tote Bag

I hope this is clear!

Tutorial: Reversible Tote Bag

Tutorial: Reversible Tote Bag

Tutorial: Reversible Tote Bag

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