Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Convertible Bucket - Deconstructed

Last week (-ish), I showed you guys this bag I'd made and polled you about whether to turn it into a pattern or do a quick deconstruction. You voted - and a deconstruction it is!

Made a second bag this week - one, for in-progress photos, 

and two, to show how it can be made with regular straps in place of the rouleau kind. 

Apart from the strap variation, it's the same bag - carry it over the shoulder as a tote,

or convert it into a backpack

and carry it one-shoulder style

or over both.

The inside is fully lined, and has two pockets - one zippered

and the other not.

Here is the bag turned inside out to show you the snaphook lanyard for your keys.

Let's get started. A gentle reminder: these instructions are meant for to make items for personal use or gifts only, and should not be used for commercial profit in any way. 

Because this is a deconstruction, I didn't stop to take measurements of the various pieces. However, here are the finished dimensions of the bag:

  • Base diameter: 11"
  • Height: 13.5"
  • Infinity strap: 68" x 1"
  • Pockets: 8" wide and 7" deep

The bag is essentially a two-layered bucket. The base is a circle and the body/walls are a rectangle. The outer layer has piping along its lower edge. I pieced the main body as a printed lower section + a solid canvas upper band, which was about 3" wide.

The inner layer (lining) is also a circle and a rectangle, pieced in the same way as the outer layer. The two pockets are attached "in the flat",

and a snap hook lanyard attached to one of the body's short edges in preparation for being sew into the side seam.

Like so - the rectangular body is sewn into a cylinder, and then the base is attached to the lower edge to create a bucket.

Here is the outer layer also sewn into a cylinder, with the piping basted on after.

This is the snap-panel that converts the straps into their backpack configuration. It's essentially a 6" x 5" rectangle with snaps along its longer sides as shown. It's attached close to the lower edge of the body cylinder with a 1"- wide rectangle of stitches. I also centered it about the body's side seam.

When the snaps are fastened, the contraption becomes a tube that holds the straps in place.

After attaching the strap-conversion-contraption, the base is attached, and the outer bucket is completed.

The inner bucket is placed inside the outer bucket, their upper SAs folded to the WS and both buckets are sewn together around their openings.

The double-layered bucket is finished. 

The next stage is installing the grommets. These are what I used - they are about $10 for a set of 8 at Joann and about $11 on amazon.

The upper band is divided into 8, to accommodate the 8 grommets. This bag has a circumference of about 36", so the grommet spacing is 4.5".

To space the grommets, we started at the seam and measured-and-marked half that grommet spacing on either side. This was to ensure the grommets were installed on either side of the seam and not on the bulky seam itself. From either of these markings, we continued to measure-and-mark 4.5" sections all around the band.

The grommet pack came with a very useful template for tracing the circular holes.

Installing these grommets was easy - there was no need for a special installation tool, just the heel of your hand pressing the two halves together on either side of the circular hole in the fabric. 

Here are two halves of one grommet pair. The outside of the grommets are smooth; the insides have edges that snap together. The pack came with instructions for how to snap the two halves together.

This is the completed bag-with-grommets. All it needs now is the infinity strap.

I'm deconstructing the regular flat strap here, to show you how much it is like any typical strap you'd make for any typical bag. I cut two strips of fabric 69" x 2", reinforced the WS with fusible interfacing and sewed them together along one long edge.

Here is the seam showing the two strips sewn RS together.

However, the last 2" at either end were left unstitched.

Bring the WS of the strips together, fold in the remaining SA to the WS and edge-stitch along both long edges to create a standard strap. Again, leave the last 2" at either end unstitched.

Thread the almost-finished strap through the grommets of the bag, then bring those ends together and, with RS together, sew the ends as shown. Turn the strap RS out and finish edge-stitching the remaining sections.

Here is the finished bag with the infinity strap threaded through the grommets and connected at the ends. 

Let's revisit the first prototype, the one with the rouleau infinity strap. That rouleau strap was made exactly the same way as the flat yellow strap above, except
  • the fabric was much softer, to accommodate the cord inside, and
  • a single strip of fabric was used, instead of two, with a width sufficient to wrap around the cord.

This is the cord I used. 

This coiling cord comes in various diameters - mine was 1/2". 

A pack of 100 ft was about $25 at Joann.

The method is similar: sew a tube to accommodate the cord, turn the tube RS out, thread the cord through the tube (I used a large safety-pin and had to be very patient), hand-stitch the ends of the cord together (or heat-seal the ends, if you know how to), then sew the ends of the fabric tube together as we did with the flat yellow strap.

I made the bag with the yellow strap purely for this tutorial and don't intend to keep it, so if you'd like to buy it, you can find it here in the shop


  1. The bags are so cute... as is your model! ❤️

  2. Well, I didn't mean to publish so quickly. Oops. My question was/is: what sort of interfacing did you put in the outer bag and is it in the bottom, too?

    1. auntiemichal: I used a medium/heavy sew-in interfacing. Nothing fusible in the bag body at all (although present in the straps). You could use the same interfacing for the base but I used a second layer of canvas. So two layers of canvas for the outer base, and the home-dec circle for the inner base. The reason I didn't also use canvas as the interfacing for the outer body was because of the grommets. Sew-in interfacing was less bulky than a layer of canvas, and less bulk = easier to snap the grommets together.

    2. How do the plastic grommets hold up? I i tend to use this as a travel bag so there will be weight in it.
      I absolutely love this bag! Thank you for the pattern.

    3. You're welcome! I don't know if they hold weight better than metal equivalents, but they snap together on either side of the fabric and enclose the cut edges of the holes pretty neatly. Using a heavyweight fabric (like canvas or duckcloth) reinforced with a fusible interfacing, at least in the section where the holes are, will ensure strong anchor points for the grommets. Happy sewing!

  3. This is very clever! Thank you for the deconstruction.

  4. Thanks for the deconstruction, so clever in every detail, and the perfect ratio of words to pictures. Grommets, coiling cord and rouleau, oh my! Looking forward to your next project. Deborah

  5. Thank you, this is a great deconstruction!

  6. супер, пошью такую сумку!!!

  7. Buenas tardes. Magnífico bolso y precioso y práctico diseño. ¿Cuándo miden los rectángulos, por favor? Muchas gracias.

  8. Hello. Thank you for sharing the lovely and practical bag! Can you provide the measurements of the cut pieces for the circle base and the large rectangle once the contrast canvas has been applied? (Diameter of circle and length of rectangle) That would be most helpful. Thank you.

  9. Mary: The cut pieces have been assembled into the finished bag so I can't measure them anew to provide dimensions to the pieces I actually used, unfortunately. I am sorry. That said, you can add the dimensions of your preferred seam allowance (SA) to the dimensions of each of the finished parts. For instance, the finished base is 11", so if your preferred SA is 1/2", the base circle should have been cut to 12", and so on. Some people like wider or narrower SA than 1/2", so please add what you are used to. I like 1/2" for bags because when added to finished dimensions, they round easily to whole or half inches, which in turn make layout and cutting much easier. Happy making!

  10. Made this and love it! I will be making adjustments to install a zipped welt pocket on the outside so it can be completely reversible and double the fun!


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