Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

How to Make a Tote Bag

Written by Molly Schulman
 Active Image If you're like me, you have TONS of clothes you never wear. You go to thrift stores and buy crap. Sometimes you buy items for their bold colors or vintage patterns even if they don't fit properly. You tell yourself you will alter them and wear them to death...but this rarely happens.
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If you're like me, you have TONS of clothes you never wear. You go to thrift stores and buy crap. Sometimes you buy items for their bold colors or vintage patterns even if they don't fit properly. You tell yourself you will alter them and wear them to death...but this rarely happens.

In any case, one simple thing you can do with an article of clothing you love but never wear is turn it into a tote bag. I especially like to turn skirts into totes. Because skirts already have a nice finished waistline, upcycling them into a bag can give the bag the illusion of excellent craftsmanship. And the work required is minimal. To make a bag, you simply need the supplies and directions below. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a detailed slideshow of the steps.

Supplies
:
• A skirt you love but NEVER wear.
• Something for the straps. You can easily use scraps from the skirt, a necktie, or a fabric belt. I opted for the fabric belt.
• A Sharpie, or similar marker
• Scissors

Directions
:
1. Turn the skirt inside out and imagine how large or small you would like your tote to be. Fold the skirt’s sides back in a way that will allow for a tote size you will find pleasing.

2. Draw a line along your folds with a Sharpie or similar marker. (Remember this is not an exact science. I just eyeball my measurements. You're not going to see the marker anyway since it's inside out.)

3. Cut along the line you just drew. If your line isn't straight, don't worry. Just try to cut as straight as possible. When you finish, you should have two squares of fabric (three cut sides and one finished waistline which will be the top of your bag). Now you are ready to sew!

4. Sew up the three cut sides. Make sure the inside of the fabric is facing out. I use a sewing machine because it is quick and sews even, tight stitches. But you can hand sew it as well.

5. Now for the straps...Loosely measure the length you want your straps to be. Cut them to size and decide how you want to secure them to your bag. I personally like when my details are revealed (sort of a craftsman approach). I prefer to see the bag’s stitching because it gives it more character.

6. Turn your bag right side out and sew the straps to the bag.

7. You now have a super cute tote bag, and I guarantee no one else will have it. And you can also feel good about the fact that you are finally using that skirt!
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