This convertible tote bag turns into a backpack and a cross body bag. I have been thinking about a convertible tote bag that can answer some of the needs I have when I travel and because I just got a new computer.
I only change my equipment when things don't work, so for me to replace a computer that still works something had to have gone horribly wrong. My daughter and her new friend were doing homework at the kitchen table and had borrowed my computer when an elbow knocked down a glass of water and spilled over my computer. My daughter's friends apologized and I was left with no computer.
If you have been following this blog for a few years, or at least since I started 5 years ago, you would know by now that I like transformable clothing, to use unusual materials, recycle and reuse, and make things reversible.
Here is a pattern that follows that trend and I think you will like because is very practical. It has two zipper pockets inside which are sewn in a different way than the other bags I have shared with you so have a close look at the construction. The use of the flex foam creates the need to make a variation of a patch pocket that is very easy to make.
It has a flap with a magnetic closure to avoid unwelcome fingers going in.
You can use a large ring and hook the chain straps for extra protection.
Large adjustable straps let you use this bag as a backpack and the four round rings turn the convertible tote bag into a crossbody bag or a shopping tote bag.
- 1 1/4″ yard of fabric for the outside (canvas or Jeans). I am using Royal Peacock, Navy Canvas Metalic Fabric
- 1 1/4 yard (1.14 m) One side Fusible Flex-Foam Stabilizer (Pellon FF78F1)
- 1 yard lining fabric (I am using satin polyester medium weight)
- 2 1/2 yards of 1″ webbing
- Thread to match the lining and the fabric
- 1 18″ zipper (metal or nylon)
- 1 11″ zipper
- 3 3/4″ magnetic snaps
- 3 D-rings
- 4 1/2 to 3/4″ round rings
- 1 18″ metal (YKK is best) or nylon zipper.
- 1 3″ O-Ring ideal but Optional.
- Zipper foot
- Rotary cutter
- Sewing machine
Sewing Level: Advanced Intermediate
Ideally, who would have made one or more of the following so you are familiar with my instructions.
If you have not please wait for the video to come out otherwise this will make your head in.
Fabric Suggestions From Fabric.com
How To Print And Download Your Convertible Tote Bag Pattern
Please use Adobe Reader, print in landscape mode and do not scale.
We're going to continue to use the new Payhip webstore to distribute our patterns. As most readers know, Craftsy is changing a lot and they have stopped designers like us from publishing new patterns on their site, so we've had to move to another service.
Our patterns are still free, but now you now have the option of making a small contribution if you like our work! We'd really appreciate it and it will help is keep going with new and fun designs like this. Even a dollar or two really goes a long way.
Thanks so much in advance for helping us out. You can use any credit card and you don't need a Paypal account, although you can use one if you have one.
Cutting And Preparing The Fabric
The following instructions are for quilting cotton, although I suggest using a stronger fabric mostly for the durability of the convertible tote bag.
My fabric is a mixture of linen and cotton, which is a little stronger than quilting cotton but I admit I could have used a stronger fabric. However, I think I would have had to use my industrial machine to manage all the layers.
Cut the Flexy Foam and the lining using the pattern. Fuse the flexy foam to the main fabric then cut the fabric. This is to avoid the fabric moving and losing its shape.
Note: The 22″ metal handle bags and the straps are not included in this tutorial. I will show you how to make them in a separate tutorial.
Step One: Making The Inner Pocket
- Cut two rectangles that are 9 1/2″ X 22″. (Pockets)
- Two strips of fabric 6″ X 1 1/2″. (zipper tabs)
We need to make zipper tabs before we make the pocket. This step is not necessary, but a very elegant detail that makes your pocket look professionally made.
We will be using the strip (6″ X 1 1/2″) of fabric shown here below the zipper.
Fold the smaller strip in half print side out and pin on both sides of the zipper.
Pin the tabs on either side of the zipper avoiding the metal stoppers.
Trim the tabs as wide as the zippers.
Print side up, place the zipper right side down. The zipper head should be facing the print. Sew very close to the zipper teeth using a zipper foot. Don't worry about the tabs being bigger than the pocket sides.
Flip the zipper right side up and topstitch. Bring the end of the fabric and alight with the edge of the zipper tape.
Sew once again very close to the zipper teeth.
Open the zipper halfway, then fold the pocket above the zipper about 3/4″ to one inch. Sew the sides at 3/8″, then zigzag. The part that you have folded over the zipper will be the top of the pocket when you sew it to the lining.
Turn the pocket right side out through the zipper. Iron.
Now you can sew on the lining as a patch pocket. Place the pocket 2″ from the top edge of the lining.
I only sew on where the pins are but you can sew the whole pocket down if you want. I am sewing mine on a piece of satin polyester fabric.
Step Two: Making The Tabs
All tabs are made the same way. You will need three tabs for the 1 1/2″ D-ring and four tabs for the round rings.
Fold the rectangles following the fold lines in your pattern.
Finger press the rectangle and make a crease.
Use the crease to bring each side to the center.
Fold back both side and stitch on the open side. Loop the D-ring and stitch the tabs using a zipper foot to get as close to the ring as possible.
This is the same instructions to make the other tabs. You will need to make four.
Step Three: Making The Flap Without A Large Ring (with option is below)
Fuse the Flex Foam to the wrong side of the fabric.
Flip the fabric to the print side and place the thinner side (male) of one of the magnetic snaps.
Fold the fabric print side facing each other and sew on three sides leaving one side open. You will turn the flap using this side. Iron and shape the corners using the point of a pencil. I forgot to draw the magnetic snap but you should be able to see the wrong side of it on the flexy foam.
Making The Flap With A Large Ring
Add the magnetic snap as above, marked on your pattern.
Place the Large ring with the tab centered in the middle. Place the other side of the flap print facing down and sew on three sides. Do not sew on the opposite side of the ring. Trim the tab and shape the corners with a pencil, iron.
Step Four: Sewing The Hardware To The Outer Fabric
Cut two pieces of the webbing strap 12″ in length. Sew two of the D-ring to each end on one of the straps.
On the other webbing strap, we will top stitch the following elements. The last D-ring, and the backpack handle.
We will be sewing the last D-ring in the middle of the strap on one side and on top sew the handle of the backpack.
Follow the pattern for the correct placement of the straps D-rings and handle. PLACE THE FLAP YOU HAVE MADE PREVIOUSLY, 5/8″ under the handle. Sew around the webbing about 1/8″ from the edge.
Sewing The Outer Layer And Lining
Sew both the putter layer and the lining the same way. Sew the sides print sides facing each other at 3/8″.
Then sew the corners.
The following is a small trick to make the bag stand up and give a shape as if you had sewed a separate piece at the bottom when in fact you have not done it.
Fold the bag from one corner to the next and stitch no more than 1/4″. Repeat on the other side. This step is crucial on the shaping of the bag especially when we add the snaps on the side.
Before you insert the lining you need to place the female side of the magnetic snap in the middle of the bag. This is to be used in conjunction with the flap.
On the outside of the bag pin, the O-Rings facing down with the tabs to the top edge of the bag. Make sure you leave enough space to be able to use the zipper foot to be able to attach the gusset with the zipper on the next step. This step is what allows the convertible tote bag into a shopping bag.
Add the magnetic snaps. These snaps allow the convertible tote bag to be used as a crossbody bag.
Insert the lining inside the bag and using a large zigzag sew the edge to attach both layers. You can use clips but I prefer to use the zigzag to avoid the layers and tabs moving around, this also gives me the opportunity to make sure both layers are the same sizes. So when I sew the gusset with the zipper there are no surprises.
Step Five: Sewing The Zipper
The zipper is sewn as the Helsinki bag. If you have a hard time with zippers or have pain in your fingers I suggest the use of a large nylon zipper such as the one used in jackets. I am using a metal zipper that I have sprayed in gold.
Place the gusset print side down facing the right side of the zipper. Sew using your zipper foot.
Topstitch on both side of the zipper to avoid the fabric getting caught.
Sew the sides of the zipper at 3/8″.
Open the zipper, and pin the gusset print side down facing the print of the bag.
Sew the top at 3/8″ using your zipper foot to avoid touching the snaps with the normal foot. Turn the gusset in and iron, then topstitch.
I have placed another snap in the middle of the bag because when it is used as a backpack you will find that you cannot close the zipper.
I like puzzles and frankly, sometimes I land in hot water with some of the readers because my explanations are not easy to follow.
Do let me know in the comment section below if there is a need more clarification.
I have to admit the 22″ chain handles are a little too short for the proportion of this convertible tote bag I will be changing them to a 24″ handles. I prefer to use this bag as a backpack and am thinking to make it in leather next time. I could add an open pocket for my phone and another for my glasses. What would you change in this convertible tote bag?
How to Make a Single Adjustable Strap for a Bag
I've made a separate tutorial on how to make the adjustable strap for this or other similar bags. Please check it out at the link below.
This is Gwen Thompson's take on this pattern, please note the exquisite use of a color palette and two different materials.
Need another Tote bag that offers you more options? Try the reversible tote one in vinyl and fabric. One of my favorites used in a commercial Here.