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Bucket Bag Tote Tutorial & Pattern

Bucket Bag Tote Tutorial & Pattern

This reversible, bucket-style tote has asymmetrical integrated straps that loop through each other to close the bag. Its reversibility is the natural result of having a full lining, so that the bag can be used with either side out.

The two layers (outer and lining) of this bag are identical in structure and construction, so the instructions that follow are for ONE layer, with the reminder to repeat the entire process to make the second layer. The piping around the base is optional but it does add to both the aesthetics and support of the bag’s structure. For a simpler version of the Cloverleaf Bag, simply omit the piping in one or both layers.

Download and print the pattern here. Some notes:

Fabric + Yardage
For yardage requirements, readers should look at the templates and photographs and estimate accordingly. Fabric in at least home-dec weight is recommended, along with a layer of sew-in interfacing for a more robust bag. However, the lining layer may be substituted with a lighter-weight fabric such as quilting cotton. If quilting cotton is used for both layers, two layers of interfacing are recommended: a commercial sew-in interfacing should be basted to one fabric layer and a heavy fabric, e.g. canvas or duck cloth, basted to the other fabric layer.

Assumed Knowledge
Whenever two pieces of fabric are connected with a seam, they are sewn with their RS (right sides) together and the seam then pressed open. This seam can then be top-stitched on the RS for strength and aesthetics. Here are two ways to do this:

(i) (Green example) Fold the SA (seam allowance) to one side on the WS (wrong side) and topstitch a single line through all three layers on the RS (right side). This is suitable for non-bulky fabrics and/or seams that will be under stress.
(ii) (Grey example) Split the SA to each side of the seam on the WS and topstitch two lines on the RS to hold the SA apart. This is suitable for bulkier fabrics and/or seams that will not be under stress.

What you need for EACH layer:

    One Short Loop Strap (from template)
    One Long Loop Strap (from template)
    One Strap Extension – this is a rectangle of dimensions 1.75″ x 11.5″, which includes 1/4″ SA all around
    One Body (in fabric) – this is a rectangle 23″ x 7″, including 1/2″ SA all around
    One Body (in interfacing) – this is a rectangle 23″ x 7″, including 1/2″ SA all around
    One Base (in fabric) – this is an 8″ circle, including 1/2″ SA all around
    One Base (in interfacing) – this is an 8″ circle, including 1/2″ SA all around
    Piping Fabric (light cotton or heavier) – this is a rectangle of dimensions 1.75″ x 25″
    Piping Cord 1/4″(approx diameter) x 24″

In addition you will need coordinating sewing thread, a sewing machine and the usual sewing notions.

Step One
Partially assemble the Strap Cylinder.

The schematic photograph above shows how the three Strap pieces (Short Loop Strap, Long Loop Strap and Strap Extension) will eventually be connected. First, simply connect one end (B) of the Strap Extension piece to one point B of the Long Loop Strap piece by sewing their ends together. Then sew the short sides of the Short Loop Strap piece and the Long Loop Strap piece together to form a squat cylinder as shown below. Set aside.

Step Two
Stabilize the Body and Base pieces by basting (sew long stitches close to the edge of the material, within the SA region) the corresponding interfacing pieces to their WS.

Step Three
Sew the short ends of the stabilized Body together to form a cylinder.

Step Four (Optional)
Make and attach the piping to the bottom edge of the Body cylinder. Fold the piping fabric in half lengthwise (RS out) over the piping cord. Using a zipper foot, sew a line of stitching close to the piping cord to encase it. Use the longest stitch length, as you will be unpicking some of the stitches later.

Align the SA of the piping and bottom edge of the Body cylinder as shown by the red arrows in the photograph below and, using the zipper foot, sew close to the piping cord to attach the piping all around the bottom edge of the Body cylinder. Leave the first inch of the piping unattached, for overlapping with the tail end of the piping later.

When you’ve sewn all around the cylinder and returned to the starting point, unpick the rest of the long stitches to expose the piping cord, then cut off the excess cord, so that the two ends of the cord meet up without bunching. Working with about 1.5″ of overlapping piping fabric (trim the rest off), fold in the short edge of the tail end, tuck under the head end of the piping…

…Fold the fabric of the tail end completely over the head end to encase the cord again, and then continue sewing to complete the circumference.

Step Five
Attach the Base to the Body.

Snip halfway through the SA of the bottom edge of the Body cylinder in preparation for attaching it to the circular Base.

Make quarter marks around the Base and bottom edge of the Body and match these up when you attach the Body to the Base.

Using the zipper foot, and with the Body on top and the Base below (their RS should be together), sew the Body to the Base. The needle should be in the side most position that allows it to sew close to the piping cord.

The Body cylinder is complete. Trim the SA of the Base to about 1/4″ to reduce bulk and turn RS out.

Step Six
Attach the Strap cylinder to the Body cylinder. Fit the Strap cylinder upside down and WS out over the Body cylinder as shown. Line up their SA at the rim and sew all around to attach the layers.

Flip the Strap cylinder up, press the seam and topstitch on the RS.

The outer layer is finished. Set aside.

Step Seven
Make the inner layer (lining layer).

Repeat Steps 1 though 6 with the lining materials to make a second bag just like the first, with the following considerations:
(i) Omit the interfacing if using home dec weight fabric or heavier for this layer.
(ii) Omit the piping if reversibility is not desired.
(iii) Attach the Strap Extension piece in mirror image of the outer layer, so that when the two layers are combined with the RS together in Step 8, the straps will match up exactly.
(iv) Leave an opening (about 3″ wide) in the side seam of the Body cylinder for turning the entire bag RS out later (see photo to follow).
(v) Do not topstitch the side seam of the Body cylinder (as it has an opening left in it).

Step Eight
Sew the two layers together. Turn one layer WS out (in the picture below, it is the lining layer) and insert it completely into the other layer (in the picture below, it is the outer layer).

Line up the straps with their RS together, pin in place and sew all around their edges as shown by the blue dashed lines, to attach both layers together. Leave the first 1″ to 1.5″ at the ends of the straps unstitched, to allow you to connect them together in separate layers later.

Snip the curved SA and turn the entire bag (including the straps) RS out through the opening left in the lining.

Step Nine
Connect the straps. With RS together (this might involve some twisting and manipulating), sew the ends of the straps of the same layer together to form complete loops. Work with one layer at a time, peeling back the other layer. Connect ends A to each other and ends B to each other, of the respective layer (refer to the second photograph if you’ve forgotten what A and B are).

Here is the RS of that same seam, with the now-connected solid green lining layer behind it.

Do this for all four junctions, then press the seams open and topstitch all around (see blue dashed line below), closing the openings in the straps in the process.

The junction where the ends A meet might be initially angular, so smooth it out as best you can when you press the SA and topstitch around it.

Step Ten
Using the ladder stitch, hand-stitch the opening in the lining shut.

The Cloverleaf Bag is completed!

author: ikat bag blog
Bucket Bag Tote Tutorial & Pattern

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