Tips For Making A Reversible Summer Tote Bag

Anyone with a reasonably well-stocked sewing box and a sewing machine at home believes they have the skills to make a tote bag. So, how about making one that is slightly different? A reversible tote bag can be used by anyone depending on their pattern and colour preferences. You can use it to take your lunch to the office in it, especially in those areas where plastic bags are frowned upon as being environmentally unfriendly. You can use it on the beach for towels and books, for shopping and even carry a laptop in it when you cannot find a specialist laptop bag.

What you need

For a standard sized tote bag of 40cm by 40cm, you will need about one metre of fabric each for the inside and the outside. Choose the colours and patterns for the inside and outside that match to cater to different people’s tastes. But if you want a bright and gaudy contrast in the bag just for yourself, go ahead. You will also need some cotton for sewing, separate fabric bindings about 3-4cm wide for the bag handles and any decorations or embellishments such as trims, buttons and acrylic decorations.

Measure and sew

Lay out the two pieces of fabric on top of each other on a table. Fold them in half and measure out a 45cm by 45cm square. The extra 5cm is the seam allowance. Fold each of the two fabrics separately in half with the right sides facing each other and machine each of the side seams. This creates two pouch shapes. Sew across the inside of the two bottom corners – a length of between 6-8 cm — of each pouch to create a base for the bag. If you have spare material remaining, measure out a 10cm by 10cm piece of each fabric. Fold the edges neatly to make a clear edge and stitch to the right side of each fabric to make two pockets. These will be large enough mobile phones.

Cuff and handles

Fold the top opening over twice and stitch it down leaving a lip of about 3cm. This produces a cuff on the outside of the bag. Measure out two 50-560 cm lengths of the binding materials to make the bag handles. Mark out the positions of the handle ends on the top cuff of the bag. Pin the handle ends in all four positions on the inside of the bag. Sew bay hand to attach the handles to the cuff. Over sew neatly on the other side of the cuff for extra support.


If you would like a fastening at the top, sew two buttons back to back in the central position on one side of the opening. Cut, trim and sew a buttonhole on the facing side of the cuff. Your tote bag is ready for use.

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