Wednesday, October 1, 2008

DIY - Make your own tote bag out of recycled fabric!

I have accepted the fact that my cool little seatbelt purse must be stowed away for the rare occasions that my hubby and I go out by ourselves, and that I must now sport the "giant mommy bag." So, the other day I was online trying to find a cool tote bag-slash-purse to function as both a diaper bag and my purse. I found several cute bags, although they were all pretty pricey.

So, I thought I'd go on a search for a pattern to try and make my own. I found a perfect little free pattern with a nice downloadable tutorial here. If you're not a sewer, then they have some really cool bags you can purchase on their site!

I headed out to the fabric store, and decided why not go to the thrift store instead, and pick up some fabric there to recycle?! Here is what I found:

The wine colored fabric on the left is actually a tablecloth, the one in the middle is a pillow sham, and on the right is some cool patterned corduroy that was sold as raw fabric. I've never really explored these aisles of the thrift store before, so it was very eye opening seeing how many cool fabrics you can find and what you can re-use!! They have aisles of placemats, tablecloths, towels, blankets, sheets, pillow shams, and even raw fabric remnants that can all be turned into something new! Many places even organize them by color, so it makes it very easy to find several patterns/colors that go together.

The only other things I had to purchase were some interfacing, which I got at the fabric store. I also bought a zipper, which is not shown in the instructions, but was something I wanted to add. You could even recycle a zipper from another piece of used clothing or old purse.

I cut out all the pieces one night while watching tv with my hubby, started sewing that night, then finished it the next morning. It really didn't take that long, although you will need to know how to operate a sewing machine. Here's my end result:

I ended up getting the wrong kind of interfacing, but it seemed to work out okay. I think if I make another it'll turn out better. I found some great canvas-like hand towels with wine glass illustrations on them that I might try making into another bag.

So, check out the tutorial...make a trip to your local thrift store, and turn something old into something new and one-of-a-kind!


renee anne said...

woah such awesome ideas.

and i just love love love the idea of recycling things to make them much more useful!!

thanks for sharing!

Dianne Long said...

Hey! Thank you so much for sharing my tutorial! I have done a little editing on the instructions to make it even easier to follow based on some user suggestions. I also added instructions on making lined pockets if you wish. Very good job on adding that zipper!

You can also add a magnetic or velcro closure at the top center of the inside edge. Thanks again!
Mama's Pocketbook

Gretchen Fleener said...

You're welcome...thank YOU for posting it! I have never made a tote bag and this one still turned out pretty well, so you had nice instructions. I can't wait to make another one...soon as I can get some more interfacing (and some more free time!)! :-)

baglove said...

I LOVE your idea and has a great line of recycle bags as well!!

Gretchen Fleener said...

Thanks! I actually own a seat belt bag too and I love it! I'm bummed that I can't use it much now that I need to carry so much baby stuff (except on the occasional date night), but maybe when I can afford one I can upgrade to one of their bigger messenger would be perfect!

Mary Grace McNamara said...

Another great source for tote bag fabric is your local furniture store. When upholstery fabric is discontinued, they have to take out the samples and toss them. I had a friend who worked at our local furniture store and she saved loads of wonderful discontinued upholstery samples for me and I made tote bags of all sizes and pillows of all sizes out of them too. Here's a link to my favorite tote bag of all time, made from discontinued upholstery samples and a purchased zipper...

Thanks for sharing such great ideas!


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