The Reversible Tote Bag

Plastic bags are the stuff of Satan, on that we can all agree. Also, making your own tote bag means you can go full crazy on the fabrics. Unicorns anyone?

This bag is great for using up off cuts and leftovers. Jazz it up with some Ric Rac or some pom-pom trim and go to town.

Here’s a basic tutorial for a pattern and how to whack it together. Enjoy!
Pattern Pieces

You will want to cut a pattern piece measuring 14inch x 13.5inch square for the bag.

Plus a pattern piece 4inch x 22inch for the straps.

Using these pieces cut x2 bag pieces in your lining fabric, x2 bag pieces in your outer fabric and x2 strap pieces in whichever fabric you would like to use for the straps.

Tutorial

Straps first. Get the iron out. Fold them in half lengthwise, wrong sides together and press.

Unfold. Fold in either side to the centre and press.

Then fold it in half again and press.

Sew down both sides of your strap along the long edges, close to the edge but still catching both sides. Repeat for the other strap.

Then, back to the bag. Place your lining fabric, right sides together and clip (or pin).

Sew down the long side (14inch), across the bottom (13.5inch) and back up the other long side (14inch), using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
When you get to a corner, lower your needle into the fabric.

Lift your presser foot. The needle is down so the fabric won’t move.

Pivot the fabric around the corner. Lower your presser foot and continue to sew. Repeat for the other corner.

You will now have three sides sewn. Repeat for the other outer pieces of fabric.

You now need to sew the corners to get the squared off edge. Pull the pieces of fabric apart at each corner, until the two seams come together. Then measure down 1.5inch from the corner seam and sew straight across, reversing the start and end of the stitching.

Repeat for the other corner of the lining. Repeat again for both corners of the outer fabric. This is what you should have.

Turn the lining pieces right side out, and place it inside the outer pieces. Match at the side seams and clip (or pin) together. Then take your strap pieces and place them inside, sandwiching them between the lining and outer bags, raw edges up. Place the straps in approx 2.5 inches from the edge, and clip (or pin) around the top. One strap on either side, obviously. Make sure not to twist your straps on the inside.

Sew around the top edge, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. MAKE SURE TO LEAVE A GAP OF ABOUT 3 INCHES TO TURN THROUGH. Your choice where you leave the gap.

Turn your bag right sides out through the hole.

Push the lining down inside the outer section. You now need to top stitch round the edge, to seal the hole and finish it all off. You can either do a normal straight stitch, stitch with a twin-needle or do a decorative top-stitch like me.

Enjoy your brand new bag!! Remember, it’s totally reversible so when you get bored, flip it through!

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The free t-shirt dress

So, it’s still the middle of winter here but the days are getting longer and the spring is in sight. With that in mind I am starting to think about a summer wardrobe for my daughter.

My favourite, go-to pattern for a t-shirt is the free Raglan T-Shirt pattern by Duck Butt Designs. You can find her on Facebook and all the info about how to get the pattern is in the pinned post.

It’s a super simple and quick pattern to work up and the only alterations I make are to make the neckline a little bigger by cutting 0.5mm off the top of each pattern piece. 

I fancied making a simple t-shirt dress for The Beast and used the raglan tee as a starting point.

I bought a women’s size 12 vest top from the local Cancer Research shop for £2 and used that as fabric. The wonderful thing about upcycling a ready-made tee is you can use the hems from the original shirt, which saves so much time.

I used a seam ripper to (very carefully) remove the pocket. 

Then I took my back pattern piece and placed it in the centre of the tee. I wanted to add about 10cm length to the bottom of the tee to make it dress length. 

Take a ruler (I use a quilting rule) and give yourself a nice angle for an a-line dress, coming out from the underarm.

Cut out the rest of this side (don’t cut down the centre line). Flip it and repeat for the other side.

Then take the front tee piece, fold it, and the front tee pattern piece and cut off the extra for the front neckline.

Cut some arm pieces. I used a co-ordinating red and white stripe from my stash. You could either use some jersey fabric you already have or make use of another charity shop buy. I cut a 3/4 length for the spring/summer.

Now you need to put your tee together. I used an overlocker but you can also make this with a stretch/ballpoint needle and a zig zag stitch on a normal sewing machine. You won’t need to finish your seams if you are sewing with a jersey. Right sides together, sew the arms to the front pattern piece.

Repeat for the back. You should end up with this.

Hem your sleeves. I did a faux blind-hem stitch. Fold wrong sides together, then back on itself, right sides together. Sew along the edge. Unfold and you have a lovely hemmed sleeve.

Then, right sides together, sew in one line from the sleeve hem down to the bottom hem. Along the line where I have placed my clips, here. 

 Repeat for the other side, then turn it through. 

Now you just need to make the neckband. Take your tee and, without stretching it, measure the length of the neck opening. 

Mine measured 7 inches. Double it to get the full neck measurement (front and back). 14. Times by 80% = 11.2. Add one inch for seam allowance and you get 12.2 inches. Cut a neckband measuring 12.2 inches along the stretch, opposite to the grainline (being honest, I didn’t do this here, I cut along the grainline. The fabric was super stretchy in all directions and I liked the stripes going the other way), and 1.5 inches in width.

Sew it together, right sides together along the short side to get a circle. Mark it into quarters with clips. Mark the neckline into quarters using clips also, marking centre front and back and the centre of each side (remember this won’t be the middle of the arms because the front neckline is longer). Sew on the neckband. 

I sewed the pocket back on. Top stitched the arms and the neckline in a red and blue twin needle line.

Finished.

Me: “I finished your dress, Pickle. Do you like it? It’s got stars on it!”

Beast: “Um…No. Can I have a banana?”

Enjoy. You can make something fabulous, but there’s no guarantee it will be appreciated!
You can find me:

Instagram : @theslippychickencompany

Facebook: fb.me/theslippychickencompany

Unisex Children’s Clothes. Comfortable, Practical, Colourful and Cool. Clothes to inspire adventure. It’s what we do.

I also teach sewing at Crafty Baba in Ipswich, Suffolk. A great haberdashery that sells everything and teaches everything else.

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