Recently, I have taught a couple of our Tote Bag classes, and some of the students were asking if there were any reversible bag patterns that we recommended. I didn't know of any off the cuff, but I did some research and found this one - Amy Butler's Swing Bag. It's a great size for running around town with a bit of a different shape and a cute little detail to the handles.
It took some figuring for me to decide on fabric, that's for sure! I finally settled on Circling Flowers for one side and Quilter's Tweed for the other. Both fabrics are (surprise) made in Japan, and even though they didn't really match-match, I really liked the way they looked together. I'm going to start collecting cool selvages!
The pattern calls for using canvas as a sew-in interfacing, but my Circling Flowers are a little heavier than a medium weight cotton so I used plain old muslin for sew-in interfacing. If you pick medium weight cottons you should get the canvas because it gives the bag a really nice solidity.
For the layout, it's the same for both fabrics and the interfacing - cut two straps and cut two bag pieces on the fold out of all three fabrics. Fold each selvage edge in so you have room for the straps and one bag piece on one side, there should be enough room on the other fold to cut your second bag piece. Measure carefully from the fold to the selvage and make sure it's the same along the entire fold so your fabric stays on grain!
Once everything is cut, lay the canvas / muslin interfacing on the wrong side of your fabric pieces - pick one pattern to be interfaced and the other will be left alone (I interfaced my Circling Flowers pieces). Pin around the edges, then baste together. The seam allowance is 1/2" for this pattern, so make sure your basting stitches are within that seam allowance. I basted lining up with the 1/4" mark, all around the edges of both bag pieces and both straps.
As usual, there are a few things in the instructions that I think could be made easier, and once you get your straps sewn, turned & topstitched (stitch length 3!) we come to the first thing that could, indeed, be easier. Amy has you folding each side of your strap separately to make tiny little pleats - pretty fiddly. I just put one small pleat through all the layers and sewed right across to hold it in place:
Basically, you want the strap end small enough to line up with the top of the bag so that there is 1/2" left on either side for when you sew it together:
Pin & sew the strap to your interfaced fabric, right sides together.
Another thing that could be easier: Amy has you sew both sides of the bag together, leaving a hole for turning on the top of the bag in the curvy part - if your handsewing isn't perfect this will look a bit sloppy! Instead, I recommend sewing the interfaced side all together then sewing the not-interfaced side together leaving a 4 - 5" hole in the bottom edge for turning. Once you are finished, it's much easier to slipstitch the bottom edge neatly because it's straight - and if it's not so neat at least it's on the bottom!
To sew each side of the bag together, remember to mark 1/2" down from the point on the bag sides - this is where you'll start & stop:
Once you have both fabrics sewn together, keep one fabric inside out and turn the other one right side out. Tuck the right-side-out bag into the inside-out bag, with the straps tucked in and pointing down. Pin all around the top edge, starting with the straps and then easing down to the corners. Start sewing on one side, and sew around to the other side pivoting at the straps. Be careful not to sew the straps into your seam other than where they meet up at the top of the bag! Sew the other side the same way.
Don't forget to clip your curves! Now you can pull the bag right side out through the hole in the bottom. Press everything nice and flat, then slipstitch up the hole in the bottom! The last step is to sew a small bartack in the "V" on each side seam of the bag - select your zig-zag stitch, set the width to the widest (usually 5) and the length to .5 or 1 and sew over the seam to reinforce it.
I love both my fabrics!
I need a black bag too, so I think next I'll make this one out of the Echino Helicopter in grey reversing to one of the Daiwabo Taupes. One can never have too many bags... although I promise that next month's pattern will be an actual garment!