Reversible, Lined, Color-blocked TOTE

I’ve got a new summer bag that I totally love.
It’s nice and heavy-weight, the perfect size for all my stuff, annnnd……
It’s reversible!


It’s good to have options.

Here are the TOTE bag versions we’ve tried so far….

This time around we’ll make it:
• reversible (similar to having a lining)
• color-blocked on the outside with heavy Duck Cloth (read more about duck cloth and other fabrics in my book)
• DIY handles
Summer, Summer, Summer time.
Let’s get started.
If you’ve never made a bag before, read through the Basic Pocket Tote Tutorial first.

Start by cutting all your bag pieces. We’re using Duck Cloth which is like a heavy canvas. It’s very durable and typically comes in solid colors (though I’ve seen some fun prints at Hobby Lobby). Of course you can use other cotton fabrics as well.
The reversible bag is basically two separate bags, sewn together at the top. If you don’t care about the reversible option, use a more lightweight fabric (maybe a cute print) for one of the bags and it will simply be a lining.

Decide what size you’d like for your bag.
Here are the dimensions I went with:
Cut 4 of each (2 per bag; different colors for each bag):
12 x 18 inches (bag front and back)
6 x 18 inches (bottom for bag front and back)
2.5 x 25 inches (handles)
Start by sewing the handles.
There are two ways to do this….
If you’re using lightweight fabrics, place right sides of the fabric together and sew down each side. Then use a safety pin or bodkin to pull the long tube-like handle right-side out. Iron out the wrinkled handle.

However, with heavy duck cloth it’s very difficult to pull the fabric right-side out.
• Sew down one side with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
• Iron out the seam
• Iron the raw edges of each handle side under 1/2 inch
• Fold the handle together and sew a top stitch down each side, about 1/8 inches from the edge.
Set the handles aside.

Now piece together the bag fronts and backs….
• With right sides of the fabric together, place the smaller rectangle on the larger rectangle and sew them together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
• Iron out the seam
• Top stitch over the seam for added strength and to help it lay flat.

Now your bag pieces are ready to assemble.
With right sides of the fabric together, sew each bag together (separately, like you’re making two bags. For more info see the Basic Tote tutorial).
Then Box out the bottom of each bag, about 2 1/2 inches on each side.
See detailed info in THIS tutorial.
And you’re left with two cool looking bags.
You could leave them separate, throw on the handles, and give them away as gifts.
But attaching them together does makes your bag more polished, professional looking, and heavy duty.
Turn one of the bags inside out and place it inside of the other bag:
• Determine where the handles should go (mine are about 3 inches in from the sides). Then tuck the ends of each handle in-between the two bag layers, with about 2 inches of handle dangling inside. You may need to remove a few of the pins from above to do this.
• Sew a topstitch all the way around, about 1/8 inch from the top of the bag. Sew another parallel line 1/8 inch over from the first line for a stronger hold.
And you’re done!
Now give your tote a whirl.
I’m sure it loves the lake as much as the next girl.

  1. 1) Jeanne G.

    I know that this is about the bag, but I have to say, your hair looks so cute!

    • 2) marketa

      Yes,her hair is lovely (so is the bag)!

  2. 3) Shari Darrow

    Love these totes. Easily one of the best sewing tutorials I have ever seen. Thank you. I so appreciate it!

  3. Adorable! LOVE the color blocking…it is so “now”. Thanks for sharing.

  4. 5) Kelly

    I also must say I love the bag and plan on trying to make one, but I love your hair! I’ve tried to do that to mine and, yeah, it hasn’t worked…

  5. 6) beth lehman

    perfect bag, can’t wait to try it!

  6. Love the colors you chose for the bags. So fun!

  7. 8) Christina

    Love the tote. Now how about a tutorial on your hair?

    • 9) heather

      totally agree…need one for the hair…it’s fun!

  8. 10) April Spinetti

    I agree…..the bag is just as amazing as the hair. Looking forward to trying both 😉

  9. I also was going to comment on how cute your hair looks! And how cute Clara’s dress is! I bet you made that?

  10. 15) amy

    First thing I thought was “OMG — the hair. To die for” That is, until I got to the last pic…and that flat belly/perfect bod so soon after a baby!!! Forget the bag…YOU’RE amazing!

  11. I love the color blockedness. 🙂 Ya, I made that word up. I just may have to make one of these for a new church bag. Oh the possibilities. Love the simplicity of it. And I love your hair, and those ice cream sandwich cookies look so yummy. so so yummy.

  12. Great tutorial, great colours, great hair, great photos…. just G.R.E.A.T.!!!! 😀
    Thank you!

  13. ok – my first thought was naturally awesome tote and photos. And then I thought about it, and saw you with your new baby – and then was like…

    Wait a second, she looks freaking AWESOME for just having had a baby. Go Dana!

  14. wowza. that is an amazing tutorial. i’ve seen tutorials that are vague and can’t figure how to get from step 1 to step 17….! i see a trip to the fabric store in my future!

  15. 21) Kristi

    Perfect timing… just this morning my mom asked me to make her some totes as Bellingham, WA (where we live) just went bagless. By law stores can no longer have plastic/paper bags available in our town. So there will be a lot of these getting sewn up!

  16. 22) Rochelle

    Love the bag! Love your hair! I also love your sunglasses!!! Where can I snag a pair?

    • 23) Dana

      Forever 21…$1.80 regular price!! I should have bought 3 pairs for when this one breaks.

  17. So excited to try this! Thanks so much! Also, I love the sunglasses!

  18. I love this bag 🙂 Your tutes are awesome! And I agree about your hair, it looks so cute! I wish I could do that!

  19. Gorgeous tote and pics, and I agree about your fabulous hair and figure–nice work! And little Clara steals the show. Did you make her adorable dress? It looks so “you!” -Anneliese

  20. Love the hair and bag and tip for sewing thick straps.

  21. 29) bdaiss

    So cute! You AND the bag. : ) I love the bright colors. Seems I’ve finally moved past my grey/black/brown phase.

  22. 30) Jen

    Perfect! I love the bag, thank you! Your whole style is super cute!

  23. This tote is so cute! These quick, simple projects are the best! Also, love the photography and all the bright colors! You always have such great ideas!

  24. When I make reversible bags, I put the 2 ‘bags’ together differently – I put them right sides together, pinning the handles in-between. Then I sew almost all the way around the top, leaving a gap. Then turn everything right side out through the hole, and topstich, which closes up the hole. Its less fiddly than getting the folded edge just right, and it also gives you a double stitch on your handles making them stronger. If I want really tough handles, I leave the ‘tails’ a couple inches long sticking in-between the layers of the bag, and after topstiching, go back and “X box” where the handles attach.

    I think I mostly do this because I have an aversion to my iron, and avoid it when its not absolutely necessary!

    Love the color blocking by the way, I was just about to make a pair of color blocked shorts for my 5yr old.

  25. Beautiful! I love how it turned out, I would totally make this!

  26. Your pictures are so adorable. Seriously… You look great. I love the color blocking on this bag! I have a million bags but I don’t mind making it a million and one! 🙂

  27. 35) Kev

    Tote’s nice and all but that baby is so adorable. Bless her. Soooo cute.

  28. 36) Amanda

    I agree, let’s see a tutorial on your cute hair!

  29. 37) Laura

    Beautifully done, both the tutorial and the bag.

  30. 38) Kathy

    I agree with everyone that these totes are cool, easy to follow and LOVE your hair too! A tutorial on that would be a plus!

  31. I know a few ladies who wouldn’t mind one bit of I stitched up obe of these for them. Your hair is darling!

  32. 40) Suzi

    Dana–I love your bag, but (almost) more importantly your hair! I need a tutorial!! It’s gorgeous!

  33. 41) Lynne Tilley

    So cute, so colorful, and who doesn’t love reversible! Great bag!

  34. Already ordered fabric to make two of them o.O
    I hope it will work out, I’m a total sewing-beginner! It just looks like a lot of work but not too hard.

  35. 43) Rachelle

    Dana, these are so cool. I’m going to make some.
    Do you have a good online source for cotton duck cloth? Thanks!

  36. Looooove!!! I’m definitely making one as soon as I get my hands on some duck cloth. Thanks for sharing!

  37. 45) Angela

    Can I request an insulated tote? I’ve been tossing the idea around, but I’m lost as to what would make a good insulator? I have yet to find a store bought one that works for me, quality/size/color… Plus I’d love to say I made it! And yes your hair is super cute!

    • 46) Carol Sue has reflective insulated lining that could be used to make an insulated bag. They carry lots of stuff and the prices are very reasonable. Shipping is fast also. Usually less than a week after I order on line I have it in my hands. This is one of my go to sites for sewing supplies.

  38. Hi!
    I’m from Hungary. I love your blog 🙂 and I’m just finished my union jack themed tote bag. You and the olympic games inspirated me.

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  39. 48) Lena

    I agree with the comments left in here. Cute bag, good tutorial.thanks!

  40. 49) Jennifer

    Love the bag! And great tutorial. I am so in love with the color blocking right now. And your hair is gorgeous! We need a tutorial for that too :0)

    – jen

  41. I am so making these bags for all the fantastic nurses that took such great care of both hubby and I while we were in the hospital 4 times this year alone. They don’t get thanked enough for all they do! I’ve used my JoAnnes coupons this week to purchase the canvas in all different prints and solids to make lots of different ones, I’m going to embroider their first initial on the solid side of the bags.

  42. 51) Elaine D

    You look amazing and I agree the hair is SUPER cute! Question for you…I have some duck cloth I’m going to try this tute out on and I wondered what size needle you used in your machine? Thought I’d ask before breaking one since I’ve never sewn with duck cloth before! Thanks!

  43. Please please please share a tute for how you did your hair in those pics! I never can figure out how to make my hands work behind my head!

  44. Love, love, love the bag. Just finished making one using the same colours as yours but actually made a boo-booh with the colour-combo but worked out quite well. Thank you (I’ll share pics once it’s daylight here in Australia)
    ~ Mariane 🙂

  45. I made this reversible boxed out tote yesterday for Christmas presents for my daughters teachers. Thank you for an amazing tutorial that was so easy to follow and I think for the first time ever when making something i did not have to unpick anything 🙂
    The bags looked brilliant, the teachers were so happy, and a little Pre school graduating girl was proud to give them as gifts.
    Happy Christmas

  46. 59) angie

    love this!

  47. 60) esther


    I tried yesterday and even if I do not have much experience it worked perfectly. Thanks for the clear instructions.

    Saludos desde España

  48. 61) Sara

    Hi Dana! As always I think you Rock! Love everything about it. Oh please Oh Please Oh Please some time share a version of your tote with a zippered top. And where did you get your white T? silly question I know but it’s hard to find a quality nice fitting white T!!
    Thanks so much!

  49. 62) Susie

    Love the bag and what a perfect palette for large embroidery with 2 themes. Thanks for the great tutorial. S

  50. 63) sara

    LOVE IT!
    can’t wait to use a lot of my fabrics to do a lot of bags like this!

    thanks for sharing 🙂

  51. I made this bag and am so happy with it!

    What type of stitch did you use to sew the panels together? It’s obviously not just a straight stitch but I wasn’t sure what exactly it was. Would a straight stitch suffice or would it not be strong enough?

    • 65) Stacey

      She did it with a serger, but a straight stitch works just fine. Mine came out great!

  52. 67) Dana McDonald

    Thanks this is really helpful! I plan on trying to make one. Just one question. If you don’t make a reversable one does it make the bag look messy?


  53. 68) Liz

    Made several of these and they turned out beautiful. I used pillow panels on some of them. Very clear instructions. Everyone loved them. Thank you

  54. 69) chrissy

    I love your tutorials. I am almost done with your faux chenille blanket, and just finished this bag for my 18 month old’s Halloween costume. I cut the size down a little, of course. It’s red and blue, for her Supergirl outfit! Thanks again.

  55. 70) Kate

    I’ve been looking for a tote to make that’s not to big, not too small – yours looks JUST RIGHT! Thanks for the inspiration, love your design and I’m so impressed by your blog – will be back for sure! Kate from Melbourne, Australia.

  56. 71) Danielle Aleman

    I made two of these totes. Outer duck fabric the same. Lining – one in green and one in purple with handles to match lining. Duck fabric was a retro, hippie type pattern. Have had lots of complements. Thank you.

  57. Thanks for the great tutorial! I just finished a kid sized tote tonight 🙂 Love how it turned out.

  58. 73) Sharon

    This is just the best tutorial around! So easy to follow, and to adapt. Many thanks!

  59. Fab tote! I think people forget about how good block colours can look in a bag. LOVE that hot pink and your hair…gorgeous!

  60. 75) Paige W

    Perfect teacher gift! Thank you thank you! 😀

  61. 76) Tricia

    Will be doing this for sure… I love how you explain it step by step. It is truly very helpful especially for a beginner like me.

  62. 77) Roxanne Q.

    I just made this tote as my first sewing project! Love it!! Thank you for your tutorials they are easy to follow and super cute!

  63. Wahou thank you so much for this perfect tutorial!
    I made mine and I think I will do another 1 million of them!

  64. 79) Julie

    Thank you very much! I’m a beginner in sewing and it was this bag or i stopped! The result is beautiful (don’t look to close for the topstitch isn’t nice) i love my bag!!

    Thanks thanks thanks for this great tutorial, Dana!

    Ps: Used to live in Austin too 🙂 In Circle C :))

  65. thaaaaankssssss a lot u sweeeeeeet dear daaaannaaaaa 4 giving me such a be
    uticious tute for reversble tot……………… may god bless u dear ………..u r so beautiful daaaaaaaaaana

  66. u r so incredible one daaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnaaaaaaaaaaaaaa………………..

  67. 82) Laurence

    Thank you for all of your tips !!! I like your bags. I’ll make one for the beach, for this summer. Thanks !!!

  68. 83) Jackie

    Oh my gosh thank you! I’m learning how to sew and trying to follows other tutorial on double sided tote and it’s driving me mad! Yours seems so much simpler thank you!!

  69. 85) true religion uk website

    Whats Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have found It absolutely useful and it has aided me out loads. I am hoping to contribute & help other customers like its helped me. Great job.
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  70. 87) akindayo

    Totally awesome, thanks this I’m just stumbling upon upon in. 2016 June via pinterest

  71. 88) roni STEELE

    Hi. I love this tote. Great instructions. I am wondering if you would allow me to use this on my blog? I would use your name and link back to your website.
    Let me know and thanks. This is a great way to make a tote – I don’t sew but my blog is about fabric blocks that I design and sell that could be used on a tote like this.

    Have a great day.

  72. 89) Sherbert-Dab

    Iove this easy tutorial, thanks for sharing. I would like to add pockets and assume if I make an inside pocket on one of the bags, when it is reversed it will be on the outside?

    • 90) Dana

      Yes, exactly. But that could look cool too!

  73. 91) Marta

    Love this bag and it’s going to be one of my first sewing projects! I’m just starting :-). Love your YT videos. Very helpful for beginners like me. Have a lovely day <3

  74. 92) Melissa

    Hi! Do you have the tutorial and measurements for your reversible boxed tote bag? Ie, without the colour blocks. I seem to get a deadlink from your site 🙂

  75. 93) Melissa

    Oh and also, what are the final dimensions of the bag?

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