Your SEO optimized title DIY // Stitch up a pretty and practical reversible tote bag | Pearls and Scissors

Summer is fast approaching. In fact, some days feel like summer already, which makes this summer-lover very happy! The warm days of spring and summer are perfect for spending time outdoors – whether having a picnic in the park, or getting sun-kissed at the beach.

For me, the best thing to have for these outdoor events is a huge bag to throw the blankets, food, magazines and board-games in. I like my bags bigger rather than smaller anyway, but these are the times I really appreciate having a fit-it-all bag. Which is why I decided to make this reversible tote bag. It’s pretty straight-forward to make, very practical, and to top it off, also very pretty.

This is what you need:

  • 2 pieces of cotton fabric (both measuring 130cmx55cm)
  • 135cm of 3-5cm-wide belt strap (or straps from an old bag, or even an old belt)
  • 2 large buttons
  • approximately 80cm of shoelace
  • basic sewing equipment
  • Ruler and marking tool
  • Paper clamps


Cut 2 rectangles measuring 65x55cm from both fabrics. Repeat each following step with both fabrics. You’ll basically be creating 2 bags that go inside each other.
Also, cut the strap in half.

Take the shoelace and cut it into 3 equal part. You’re going to braid them, so pinch the ends on one side between a paper clamp and start braiding. When you get to the other end, clamp the braid with another paper clamp.

Now you can start sewing.
Put 2 rectangles from the same fabric on top of each other so that all the edges line up, and the right side (the prettier side) of the fabric is inside. Sew 3 sides of the bag as marked on the above photo with a seam allowance of 1cm.

Repeat with the other fabric.


Fold the bag from the wrong side (where the seam allowances show) so that the side seam lines up with the bottom seam and the corner is pointed out and mark a line 15cm from the tip of the corner. The line needs to be at a 90 degree angle from the seams.

Sew the corner seam you just marked. You can cut off the corner after you’re done if you want to.


Press all seams. Also, fold the upper edge of the bag to the inside to create a 2cm wide hem and press that down. Repeat on both bags.

Mark the center on both bags (equal distances from the side seams. The make a mark 3cm from the center mark on both sides. This is for the button loop.

Next, make a mark 12cm from the center on both sides of the mark. Those marks are for the straps.


Place one bag inside each other, it doesn’t matter which one, so that the wrong sides face each other and the right sides are out. Align the side seams and the upper edges with each other and pin.

Start sewing together the two layers of the bag. Keep the strap and button loop (braid) at hand. Start from one of the side seams and sew about 3mm from the edge, until about 4cm before the first marking. Make sure your needle is lowered and stop for a second.

Place one end of the first strap in between the 2 bag layers at the first marking (that’s 12cm from the center). Tuck in about 4cm of the strap end. Hold the strap in place with your fingers and slowly sew over it.  Repeat that when you get to the second marking on the other side, but first, you’ll need to add the ribbon loop. See below!

Ok, so now you’ve got on end of the first strap sewn in and you’re approaching the first button loop marking. Take the shoelace braid, remove the clamp and insert it between the two layers of fabric, just like you did with the strap. Again, hold it in place with your fingers and slowly sew over it.
Repeat once you get to the other marking.
You only need to insert the loop on one side, so once you get to the other side of the bag, you only need to insert another strap.
Keep sewing the edge of the bag until you get back to the beginning full circle. Now you have your straps and loop fastened, and bags attached to each other. Just a couple more steps and you’re done!

To make the straps more durable, sew a box with an X inside on top of the strap end that’s tucked between the bag layers (see photo above). Repeat with all 4 strap ends.


Lastly, sew buttons onto the center of the other side of the bag, about 4cm from the upper edge. One button to one side (floral on my bag) and the other button to the same spot on the facing side (the beige on my bag. I found that the best way to do that is to sew them on at once, like a reinforced button. And, keep a toothpick between the layers of thread so you don’t sew the button on too tight. After the buttons are secured, circle the thread between the button and fabric to create a little “foot” for the button. I hope this makes sense.


In case you want to reinforce the button of the bag to give it more body, you can craft a simple bottom from a plastic paper folder. I just cut off the cover and sides of the folder, and covered it with fabric, which I glued to the plastic using a glue gun.

Whew! That was a lot of steps, but it’s totally worth it. Also, I guarantee you that the actual process of sewing this takes less time than it did for me to write out all these steps. The joy of blogging, eh?

I hope this inspires you to bust out that sewing machine, and stitch up something useful for your summer adventures! And, if you like the dress on the photos, here’s the tutorial.

I’m going to keep the blogging load a little bit lighter this week in order to work on the Start Sewing Club. But, I will see you on Thursday to share a cute refashion.

Speaking of the Start Sewing Club – sign up below! You’ll be the first to get all the news, and some early bird bonuses that I will only offer to the awesome people on that list. And, of course, you will receive a free Start Sewing Guide to get you started. I’m all about #startsewing !

xo. Hanna

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