Somewhat Simple

Interchanging Tote / Backpack


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Back to school time means you have the perfect excuse for a new bag. Let’s make an Interchanging Tote!

interchanging tote/ backpack tutorial

There are bajillions of tote tutes out there.  I know it.  You know it.  But hopefully you haven’t completely started to tune them out, because this one is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

I’m a sucker for anything with a multifunction.  This, my friends, is a little how-to for turning a bag from tote to backpack, and back again.

interchanging tote/ backpack tutorial

It’s cute, it’s useful, and it’s big enough to hold it all. Tote.

interchanging tote/ backpack tutorial

But, you know those days when your bag keeps slipping of your shoulder, no matter how sternly you set it in place, and you just aren’t in the mood to deal with it?  Backpack.

interchanging tote/ backpack tutorial

interchanging tote/ backpack tutorial


  • tote
  • matching thread
  • 4 buttons
  • (optional) leather straps/ old belt

interchanging tote/ backpack tutorial

Step 1:  Use a seam ripper to pick one end of each strap free.  You’ll want to pick the opposite straps, one in front, and one in back.

interchanging tote/ backpack tutorial

Step 2:  Determine if you’ll need to extend the straps of the tote.  If the straps are long enough for a comfortable backpack, you can skip step 3.

interchanging tote/ backpack tutorial

Step 3:  To extend the straps, slip one end of the leather inside the end of the tote strap.  You can use leather scraps or cut an old belt.  Be sure to fold the ends of the tote strap in, to keep it clean and finished.  Do this to both straps.

interchanging tote/ backpack tutorial

Step 4:  Use the sewing machine to sew over any parts of the tote that were unstitched in step 1 (the ends of the straps and maybe the top edge of the tote).

interchanging tote/ backpack tutorial

Step 5:  Sew buttons in place for the tote and the backpack options.  The tote buttons should be sewn in the same places where the straps were picked out in step one.  This will put one button on the front of the tote, and one button on the back side.  Sew the other two buttons to the back side of the tote at the bottom corners.

There will be three buttons on the one side of the tote, and one button on the other side.

convertable tote/ backpack tutorial

Step 6:  Cut the straps to size, if needed, and add buttonholes at the ends.  With the leather straps, you should be able to simply cut the buttonholes out using a sharp blade.  If you have fabric straps, however, you’ll need to sew in a buttonhole.

interchanging tote/ backpack tutorial

Step 7:  Embellish the bag however you please!  I chose to add pockets to mine using these instructions.

interchanging tote/ backpack tutorial

So… what mood are you in?

interchanging tote/ backpack tutorialcanvas + leather

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