Monday, October 18, 2010

Tutorial: How to Sew a Reversible Tote Bag with pockets

I recently figured out how to sew a reversible tote and now I am making a tutorial so you all can make this easy project, too.

Here is what I started with:

You can make your bag any size.  I like 14" wide by 15" tall, as this is plenty roomy to hold notebooks and lots of stuff.

So, I cut two pieces 14"x15" of each fabric.  I lined my selvedges up and cut from the selvedge sides, and used what was left of the fold to make pockets for both sides of my bag.  I had more fabric left over of this purple print, so I am going to make the pockets 2 different ways.  You can see my folded piece of the purple print laid out at the bottom of one bag piece. and the orange print pocket, at top in photo, is a bit smaller.

 I took that smaller orange rectangle, folded it in half with the right sides together and sewed all of 2 sides (one side is the fold), and then part of the 4th side, leaving room to turn.   Turn it right side out and press.

I used pellon 808 craft weight fusible interfacing on the back of the orange bag pieces, but you do not have to use interfacing at all if you want to skip it. Or you could use fusible fleece. The interfacing makes it a little sturdier and able to stand up a little better.  I made the next bag without any interfacing, and it seems plenty sturdy enough.

Pin the patch pocket you made to the center of one of the orange bag panels, and sew along the bottom and sides.

Then take both orange bag pieces and put them right sides together (RST).  Sew along three sides, making sure the pocket opening points towards the open side of your bag.  Turn it right side out, set aside.

Then take one of your other bag pieces and attach the pocket.  I lined the pocket on the side across the bottom of the bag, and sewed a seam along the middle, to make 2 pockets.  Then put these two pieces RST and stitch along three sides, again aligning the pocket and bag opening. Turn.

Next, stand each bag upright on a table, and push the corners of the bag back towards the inside and pinch to determine where to sew the corners in order to make a flat bottom for your bag.

Above you can see this step from the inside and the outside.

Next, you will sew across these corner tucks.  Here you can see the corner as it looked just before I sewed it, just to be clear.  You want to make a note of exactly how great the distance between the corner point and your seam, so that you can sew all four corners (two for each bag piece) evenly.  For this bag, I lined the corner tip with the edge of the throat plate on my machine.

Now you will sew together your other bag fabrics.  If you are using interfacing, you will only want to do one bag piece with that, and we have already sewn the interfaced piece.  So we will be making another bag exactly the same as the first, except for the interfacing.  And in my case, the pockets are also different on this side.

First, I pinned the pocket piece, folded edge up, raw edges aligned with the bottom of one bag panel.  I stitched one row of topstitching down right in the middle of this panel, making two pockets.  Then I placed both pieces rst and sewed them together.  Then repeat the corner pinching and sewing.

After this, you will need to prepare your handle pieces.  I happened to have many yards of a wide black satin ribbon, and so I am folding and sewing this to make easy straps for this bag.

If you don't have suitable ribbon, or want to do it a different way, there are many ways you could make straps.  Before I remembered this ribbon, I planned to use the same fabrics, one on each side of each strap.  You could just sew these rst down the long side and turn.  What I had planned to do was put them wrong sides together and sew them together using some very narrow bias binding I had to match.  This would have worked and been pretty I am sure.

So then, put the two bags together, one inside the other, with RST.  Pin the side seams to line up.  Then you will place your handles down between the two (right side facing) layers.  Pull the raw edges of your straps out and pin all four, being careful to line them up evenly spaced from the side seams and lining up on both sides.  Also make sure they have even lengths extending into the seam you will be sewing.  In other words, be careful that everything lines up evenly and pin carefully.  After I pin my straps, I also pin the section between them on each side.  Here is a picture of it all pinned up and ready to sew.

Now you will sew along this top edge, securing all four straps, but leaving an opening between the last strap and the first you already sewed, so that you will be able to turn your bag.  Remove pins and turn.  Then you will topstitch all around the top of your bag to close the opening and secure the straps.

Here is this bag, both views.

For some reason, I took these pictures before I sewed closed and topstitched.  whoops.  I did topstitch this and I used orange thread with the orange fabric on the top and purple thread in the bottom for the other side.

Then a made a smaller one, for my toddler nephew, using some white grosgrain ribbon for the straps- which is an even easier way to make straps, as you can just use it as is, and don't have to sew the straps at all, other than attaching them to the bag when you sew it together.  I made his with this same purple halloween fabric on one side, and this Christmas print on the other.

It has pockets, too, although you can barely see it in this photo.

I have cut out another bag and am going back in there now; I would like to make a stock of a few of these bags for sale.  I need to get my etsy store opened and start sewing for cash.

I was inspired by Aunt Pitty Pat to applique, and have cut out a snowman and pocket for another bag.  I have even started knitting a tiny black scarf (it will actually be 2 pieces, since he will only have the front of a neck, and sew it will have to be sewn on).  The snowman will be too sweet to have halloween fabric on the reverse, maybe it could turn to a plain or embroidered black side.  But that will (hopefully) be for another post!

I hope to be back to post again soon.  Ya'll have a great day and be blessed and well and you come back to this blog, too!  Peace to everyone.     

handmade projects


Donna said...

Thats a great idea! I'd like to try that sometime. Thanks for showing us what you made and how you did it.

Donna @ Comin' Home

Jill said...

I love the halloween fabric for your bag! Thanks for linking this up too!

Jill @ Creating my way to Success

Eileen said...

this is a great tutorial. thank you for linking it to my community! Keep up the great work.