Home > Accessories, DIY > DIY Reversible Copycat Bag

DIY Reversible Copycat Bag

kbag1.jpgI loved the looks of this Keen Rose City shoulder bag when I first saw it (and every time after). The shoulder strap is very long, giving the bag a funky look, but also making wearing it pretty versatile — it drops from the shoulder, or can be worn across the body. It’s also got four very cool, hidden pockets.

What I don’t like, though, is the stiff, unforgiving, rubbery feeling of the Keen bag. It’s puffy around the edges, and probably wouldn’t feel very nice to wear — unless you’re really, really into industrial chic. I love my Keen shoes, but I think carrying this bag would be a little like wearing the shoes on my arm.

Fortunately I sew, and this basic design is simple (even, you might say, timeless, except for the lengthened straps). (I know, it’s all wrinkled in the picture. 100% cotton — go figure. Yes, the photographer was too lazy to re-iron it for the photo shoot.)


I whipped up this muslin from memory, and was really happy with it. Well, except for the fabric, maybe. That lining is not weaving’s finest hour. (But now it is out of my stash!)


This style was a natural for a reversible bag, and the full lining meant that I could have a total of six hidden pockets. There’s just one main pattern piece, which I drafted on freezer paper:

I cut two pieces of each fabric. I installed invisible zippers in the center seams of the main fabric and the lining, and added an extra layer of cloth between the main fabric and the lining in the body of the bag to divide the space into two separate pockets, accessed by the zippers on each side.


I cut small pockets to insert into the widest part of the shoulder strap, and then put one more invisible zipper in each inner strap seam, making small hidden pockets in the strap.

I assembled the bag like a vest. The shoulder strap is quite wide; much to my surprise, when I saw the Keen bag after I’d made mine, I’d actually gauged its width within an eighth of an inch of the Keen’s. I’m not sure how the width works on the original bag, as the strap is fairly stiff. I fold mine in half to wear it, which is very comfortable.

The exaggerated length of the strap is a lot of fun, but not as practical as it could be (especially since I’m short). I’ll definitely make this bag again, but will probably shorten the strap a little. And I need to work on my invisible zipper technique; I had some trouble with the short zippers set into the curve.

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  1. Anne
    November 27th, 2013 at 00:30 | #1

    I found the measurements here:


    Strap: 40″ with 20″ drop
    Dimensions: 13-½x15″

    Yippee! Go for it everybody, we can do it!

    • November 27th, 2013 at 07:19 | #2

      NIce bit of research there, Anne, particularly since I first saw the Keen bag in a store (and wrote this post) in 2008 — best of luck with your bag!

  2. Anne
    November 26th, 2013 at 07:34 | #3

    Hi Noile,

    I have been making similar bags and I love this idea. I like your proportions. Would you please give us the measurement of the center seam and the top to bottom length?

    All, Check out the pattern and instructions over at http://verypurpleperson.com/2010/04/making-reversible-bag/

    Thanks for this idea, I will definitely give it a try.

    • November 26th, 2013 at 12:05 | #4

      Anne, I’m sorry, but I don’t have the bag any longer, so I’m afraid you’ll have to wing it for the porportions; they’re probably best when fitted to your size anyway!

  3. Lindsey
    January 21st, 2013 at 19:44 | #5

    Also, is the fourth picture a piece of fabric folded? So Is it 2 folded pieces for each color? (4 total folded?)

    • January 22nd, 2013 at 09:12 | #6

      Just above that fourth picture are these words: “There’s just one main pattern piece, which I drafted on freezer paper:” You are looking at the pattern I made from freezer paper, not fabric.

      The fabric is not folded. This bag has a center seam on the front, and one on the back, in both the body and the lining. These center seams are what allowed me to install the invisible pockets.

  4. Lindsey
    January 21st, 2013 at 19:36 | #7

    Hey! I love your bag! I just got a sewing machine for Christmas and I wanted to Make this but I’m sorta confused…. So u just cut out one skinny long piece of fabric that looks like the picture u posted? And just one? Then u stitched them together? I really want to make this but every bag like this requires a pattern but I don’t have that. I would love a response! Thank you!

    • January 22nd, 2013 at 09:05 | #8

      Lindsey, as you are a very new sewist, your best bet is to start with a simple pattern, and follow the instructions that come with it. You’ll find a number of patterns that are similar to this online or at a local sewing store. You’ll do best, especially at first, with clear directions for each step in front of you — that’s not something I can do on this blog. Best of luck — sewing is a marvelous skill to learn and use!

  5. Pete
    October 9th, 2009 at 10:30 | #9

    A great bag, but as a newbie sewing neophite I’d like some measurements. You cut two pieces of each cloth? How did you line the bag? Did you stitch it and then turn it inside out? I am lost, but love the look so I’m starting out just winging it. Thanks – Pete

    • October 11th, 2009 at 19:41 | #10

      Unfortunately, I can’t get to it now, Pete, but I’m sure you’ll do fine winging it. I cant remember exactly how I lined the bag. Maybe pick up a commercial pattern for a bag with a similar shape (with the handle cut in one with the bag body)? It should have good lining instructions. Size-wise, just draw your paper pattern to the length you want, and then make the bag body proportionate. IF it helps, I think the finished width of the strap at the top is 4 inches; when I wear it, I usually fold it double, which looks great, and is very comfortable to wear. Good luck with yours!

  6. December 11th, 2008 at 18:59 | #11

    That is an awesome bag! I love the pockets, so sneaky!

    I could even make mine look just like yours too, as I also have that sheet set (and curtains)! I actually have two sets. I used them since I was about 10 (about 15 years ago) until just this past year when I upgraded to a larger bed! The fabric really holds up!

    That fabric takes me back to high school!

  7. November 12th, 2008 at 21:54 | #12

    Melissa, the only pattern piece I used was the one I free-hand drafted. It’s in the fourth photo from the top. I just eyeballed the proportions in the store. You can draw something similar from looking at my photo; it’ll work fine even if your proportions are slightly off.

  8. Melissa
    October 3rd, 2008 at 21:04 | #13

    Do you have a pattern that you can share for this? or is it just copied from the other purse?

  9. October 3rd, 2008 at 19:46 | #14

    Oh, dear, Amelia. There would be a reason you recognize the fabric in the second picture: it is an old sheet! Years ago, I bought a whole bunch of them at a thrift shop just to use for odd projects. The colors are so much fun! (And the sheets are still turning up, for some reason — I saw a set, virtually new, just a few months ago at another shop.)

    I often buy sheets (even new, on super sale) to use for muslins, but I really, really hate pale pastel ones. Bright colors and wacky prints are much more fun to work with, especially if experimenting.

  10. Amelia
    October 3rd, 2008 at 18:40 | #15

    That’s so weird, I used to have sheets with the same pattern as the second picture!

    Also, I love this pattern, especially the hidden pocket.

  11. July 18th, 2008 at 09:46 | #16

    Hi, Hellen — thanks for your note. I’m sorry, but I don’t make these bags for sale. I just made mine for fun, and wrote about it to inspire others. It’s part of my category “DIY” (Do It Yourself) to share ideas for making things without a commercial pattern.

  12. Hellen
    July 18th, 2008 at 01:30 | #17

    Hi, i love your bag!! i think its a great idea!!!, i want it, but i have a lil’ problem, i’m from Mexico City, but i was wondering if you can send it to Mexico and how much does it cost with the shipping and without it.
    thank you very much

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