Reversible tote bag
(Makes one 9”x 6”x 10” bag)
An infinitely customizable design
Although you may want to follow this pattern closely the first time you make it, we encourage you to modify the dimensions and details to your liking in the future. Take liberties with your material choices. Change the handles. Add inside or outside pockets before sewing the pieces together. Add leather details. Make it work with your life.
1/2 yard stiff fabric (denim, canvas, duck)
1/2 yard contrasting stiff fabric for lining (buy more if using directional print)
10” length of firm fusible interfacing
10” length of 1/2” grosgrain ribbon
1 metal swivel bolt snap with 1/2” ring (see Fig. 2)
thread to match outer fabric
thread to match key leash, if different color
fabric scissors or wheel cutter
tube turner - for turning straps right-side-out (Dritz “Quick Turn” tube turner or similar tool recommended)
*all seam allowances 1/4”
After cutting and marking your material pieces (see pattern at bottom of page), pin strap fabrics (lining to outer x 2), right sides together, and sew the straps on three sides*, leaving an end open on each strap for turning right-side-out. Use a tube turner to do so, then iron the straps flat. Topstitch around edges if desired.
To make a key leash, sew the grosgrain ribbon to the swivel bolt snap by folding the end of the ribbon around the metal ring and then hiding the raw edge, straight-stitching to capture loose end.
Next, pin the two lining pieces right sides together, and pin the key leash between the two layers with the raw edge sticking out as shown (location mark on pattern). Stitch lining side and bottom edges together, leaving entire top edge open. Likewise, pin and stitch the outer fabrics (right sides) together, leaving the top edge open and a 5” unsewn opening on the bottom for turning later. Trim the corners and press all lining and outer seams open.
Turn the lining right side out, and place inside the outer fabric, matching up the raw top edges of the bag. Pin layers together, starting by matching the seams. Insert the handles in between the layers by matching the marks shown on the pattern, leaving 1 1/4” of each end sticking out past edges. Make sure that the handles aren’t twisted and that the outer body fabric touches the outer handle fabric. The lining fabrics should touch each other as well. Otherwise, your handles will be sewn inside out. Pin and then stitch top edges of the tote together, reinforcing the stitching on the handles, to make them stronger for heavy loads.
To form the bottom of the bag, open up the corners and line up the bottom and side seams together, then mark 6” stitch lines perpendicular to seams, pressing and pinning bag bottom to bag side. Stitch and trim off the triangle. Repeat on other corner and then twice on the lining bottom corners. Your bag will be three dimensional now, instead of flat.
Using the hole you left open on the bottom, turn the bag right side out. Tuck the lining inside and press a crease at top edge of bag. Topstitch 1” from top edge of bag opening, securing lining. Now, press bottom edge creases onto your bag. Measure the finished bottom of the bag and cut the stiff interfacing to fit this size. After cutting, gently roll the interfacing and stuff through the hole. Lay it flat against the bag bottom, smooth out the lining and press the layers, fusing the facing in place. Hand stitch the hole shut. You can press creases into the sides to make the bag fold like a grocery sack. Your bag is now done.
POCKET OPTION (not shown in photos)
To add patch pockets to either the inside or outside of the bag, you must do it before sewing the lining pieces or outer pieces together. Find a basic pocket pattern on page 3. First, turn under the raw pocket edges and press. Stitch the top edge under, then pin and stitch the pocket to the lining or outer, centering it approximately 4” down from top edge of bag. Reinforce the top corners of pocket.