It’s time to sew on Not JUST a Housewife!
I’m sharing a tutorial for this Reversible Bucket Bag made from men’s clothing!
I am here to tell you how many projects failed this time around—for a variety of reasons! This Reversible Bucket Bag was created out of the ashes of those failures, though, and it turns out that I love it! I made it reversible because I am a little addicted to the idea of reversible things even if it is never reversed!
The background: I am not good at clothes upcycling. When I have something that we have outgrown, I can’t stand to cut it up. I donate it hoping that others will love it as much as I did. If I hated it, I donate it and don’t usually want to see any part of it again! With three quickly growing girls, I have found that most stuff gets donated, but I forgot about our clothes—Mom and Dad! We cleaned out our closet several weeks ago and I saved a bunch of things for undetermined projects. And, that’s when I got this idea to build on some projects I was working on!
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the right type of pants for this purse—I really wanted that pocket! We have a brand new Goodwill store in our town, so I headed right over there for a little shopping. I found the pants (look for the largest size men's cargo pants you can find) for only $4 and the shirt came from my husband’s side of the closet! You can actually use regular fabric for this bag, but it isn’t as much fun!
1 pair of cargo pants with pocket on the side
1 button-down shirt
Make a pattern.
Make a pattern for the bag. I made mine on newspaper. It is essentially one big piece, but I added the curves after I made a bunch of bags without them so my pattern is pieced together. Using the pants, you won’t cut it out in one piece, so you could probably make the handle separately if you would like to do it that way. You will want to make the bottom edge of the handle extend 1/4 inch beyond the bottom edge in the pattern because you will be attaching it to the bag.
Click on the pattern picture to print the curved handle section. Print landscape without page scaling or fit to page options. You may have to enlarge it to make sure it fits right on the pattern.
Use this diagram combined with the pattern picture above (actual size) to create the full pattern. You can choose the length of the handle. (Mine was about 10 inches long on the pattern which makes it about 19 1/2 inches long on the bag.)
Cut out the bag.
Center pattern over pants pocket leaving at least 1/2 inch all of the way around the pocket. One side should be placed on a fold. I realized that the shape of the pants leg made a perfect purse shape, so I just went with it. You can see how the pattern fits in relation to the pants leg.
Cut out the lining.
Use the piece you just cut as a pattern to cut the lining section out of the shirt. Be sure one side has a fold in it and the other side has an extra 1/4 inch of fabric. The shirt piece will be the lining. I went over the button placket a tiny bit, but it was within 1/4 inch and became part of the seam allowance. NOTE: Because this is a plaid, you should really take care to match the plaid and turn everything the same way. For this project, I threw all caution to the wind and just stuck it on there.
Sew the bottom edge of the bag.
Be sure to turn it inside out with right sides together.
Make a flat bottom for the bag.
Pinch the bottom corner so the seam is centered and the corner makes a triangle. Flatten the triangle and sew across the bag about one inch from the end of the bag or point of the triangle. Trim off the excess so there is a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Repeat for the other side of the bottom of the bag.
Sew the lining.
With right sides together, sew the edge of the lining piece using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Press seam flat.
Sew the bottom edge except leave an opening in the center large enough for your hand to fit through.
Make a flat bottom for the lining.
Do this the same way you did it for the bag. Do not sew the opening in the center.
Add velcro closures to the pocket—optional
I ripped the buttons off my pocket because it wouldn’t open and close easily. For a purse, I want the pocket to open and close easily so I can slide things in and out with one hand. I sewed velcro over the buttonholes and added one in the center to be more certain things won’t fall out of my pocket when I am slinging my purse around.
Add a ruffle to the pocket—optional
I also added a ruffle to the pocket. Cut the button placket off of the shirt. If you use the side with the buttons, just carefully cut off the buttons. I used the side with the button holes. The arrow shows where I cut it from the shirt. This edge will be raw which means it might fray, but it is so tiny I don’t think it will matter. Use scissors with small, sharp points to be able to cut very close to the placket.
Hem the end that was cut off of the collar by turning it under twice and sewing along the edge. Using a long stitch (gathering stitch), sew down the center of the placket from top to bottom. Do not backstitch at either end. Try to stay just to the left or the right of the buttonholes.
Gently pull the thread tight to gather the placket into ruffles. It should be about the same length as the width of the pocket flap.
Change back to regular stitch length and sew the ruffle to the pocket flap. Sew down the center on top of the gathering stitch. The ruffle will also cover up the little stitched squares where the velcro was sewn. (Ignore the handle—I sewed it first, but it would have been easier to attach the ruffle without it getting in the way.)
Cut out handles.
Cut 2 handles from each of the fabrics—pants and shirt. I just cut the handle about 1/4 to 1/2 inch longer at the bottom by the curves. It wasn’t very precise, but it was forgiving. It gave me a little extra room to work with when I sewed the handles to the bag and lining. Don’t worry about the grain line or stretch of the fabric since the purse doesn’t need to stretch any direction.
Sew handles to bag and lining.
With right sides together, place lengthwise center of handle on top of the center of the pocket. Pin in place. Sew in place using a 1/4 inch seam.
Repeat for the handle on the other side by placing the center of the handle over the center of the back of the bag.
Press seam flat with seam towards the top of the bag or lining.
Press seam flat with seam towards the top of the bag or lining.
Repeat for the lining section.
Sew bag to lining.
Place the bag inside the lining. The bag will be right side out and the lining will be inside out. This way, the right sides are together.
Sew around the top of the bag with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Start about 2 inches below the top of one handle and sew down and around the curve up to the other side, stopping about 2 inches before you get back to the top.
Repeat for the other side of the handle, but leave an opening large enough for your hand to get through.
Be sure to make the opening above the curve on your bag. It is easier to sew the entire curve and work with straight lines later.
(click to enlarge)
Clip the curves by making small snips about 1/4 inch apart along the curve. The snip should go from the edge of the fabric almost to the stitching. Be sure you don’t cut through the stitching.
Turn right side out.
Reach in through the opening in the lining and gently pull the bag and handles through the lining. Your bag should look like the finished bag except the handles are not sewn and you still have 2 openings.
Sew opening in lining.
Now reach in through the opening in the handle and pull the lining out of the opening. It will be inside out. Smooth and finish sewing the opening in the bottom of the lining. Gently push it back through the opening in the handle. This is what makes the bag reversible—you can’t see any stitching.
Join handles together.
Smooth the handles flat and make sure they are the same length. You may need to trim them a bit.
To sew the handles together, you need to put right sides together and sew across the top of the handles. This is easy to do with the lining.
Press seam flat.
It is a little trickier with the bag handle because you have to get the lining sections out of the way. Be sure to put the right sides together on your handles and then twist the lining out of the way. This way you are sure to sew it together correctly.
Press seams flat.
Finish opening in handle and topstitch bag.
Fold 1/4 inch seam allowance to the inside and press in place along the handle at all openings. Pin closed so the openings do not pull and pucker as you sew.
Press all edges carefully. This will help hold the openings in place and keep the lining where it should be as you sew.
Topstitch all along the top edge and handles of the bag. I use a 1/8 inch seam allowance for this so that I am sure to catch in all seams—especially in the openings. I also leave the pins in until the last second to help hold it all in place.
Press again to smooth out the stitching.
It seems like a lot of instructions, but it really goes pretty fast.
Now you have a bag with options!
I hope you enjoy making one of your own!