Project bag, shopping bag, what-have-you, this reversible tote is no-frills but uber versatile. Start with the base pattern and embellish to suit your needs. Make something unique and never lose your bag again!
Be sure to choose woven (not knit) fabrics. I recommend cotton as so many colors and prints are available in this natural fiber. It's sturdy and washes well. If you prefer something tougher, choose a washable outdoor upholstery fabric.
Skills required: measuring, drawing, machine sewing
Step 1: What You Will Need
Roll of wrapping paper
Pen or pencil
Iron and ironing board
Piece of chalk
3/4 yard woven cotton fabric (side A)
3/4 yard woven cotton fabric (side B)
1/2 yard lightweight fusible interfacing
Large safety pin
Step 2: Launder Your Fabrics
If using cotton fabric, now is the time to wash and dry it to prevent shrinkage when laundering the final product.
Iron your fabrics once dry.
Step 3: Make Your Pattern
This project really only requires one pattern piece. Take the roll of wrapping paper, and on the back, draw a square 18" by 18" (view A).
At each bottom corner, draw a 3" square cut-in (view B).
Using paper scissors, cut out your pattern (view C). This will be the body of the tote.
Step 4: Cut Your Fabrics
Take each piece of fabric and match selvages (view A). If the fabric has a print, make sure the printed side faces out.
Pin your pattern piece to the very top of the raw edge on a piece of fabric (view B). Cut out the pattern piece.
Take the remaining scraps of fabric and lay them out flat again. Mark out two equal strap pieces horizontally with your chalk and yardstick, this time starting from the bottom up (view C). Cut fabric along chalk lines.
Repeat with second piece of fabric (view D).
Step 5: Cut and Apply Your Interfacing
Cut four rectangles of fusible interfacing, each 12" by 3.5" (view A).
Iron these to the bottom parts of each tote body, matching bottom edge to bottom edge, and matching adhesive side to reverse of printed side (view B). Tip: use a dry iron, and don't apply it directly to the interfacing; pull the top part of the fabric down to act as a pressing cloth (view C).
Step 6: Sew Your Tote Bodies
If one or both of your fabrics has a printed side, match tote body pieces printed side to printed side. Stitch along the bottom edge and side edges, using 1/2" seam allowance (view A). Go back to your ironing board and press these seams open (view B).
Now, match bottom corner to bottom corner at seams. Stitch together using 1/2" seam allowance (view C). This will give you a rectangular-bottomed bag shape (view D).
Repeat with second tote body.
Step 7: Sew and Turn Your Straps
Take two long strips of fabric, one of each material, and pin them together with printed sides facing each other. Stitch pieces together down each long side, 1/2" seam allowance, creating a tube (view A). Repeat with the other two long pieces.
Find your large safety pin and pin it to the inside of one tube (view B). Push the pin through the tube until it is turned completely right side out; repeat with second tube (view C).
Press each tube flat (view D). Topstitch 3/8" from long edges, down both sides of each strap (view E).
Step 8: Insert Straps and Join Tote Bodies
Turn one tote body right side out so that the raw edges are on the inside. Take your other tote body and place it inside the other one, matching bottoms and seams (view A). Fold the top edge of each tote body towards the inside, about 1 1/2", and press (view B).
Decide how long you want your straps to be and cut them accordingly, leaving one inch on each end to go inside the tote bodies. I'm happy with the length of my straps as they are, so I'm not going to cut anything.
Insert the straps between the tote body layers, evenly spaced, with 1" of each strap end inside the tote bodies. Pin (view C). Sew the tote bodies together along the very top edge (view D). Repeat stitching about 1/2" below your first seam (view E).
Clip any loose threads, and you're done!