You must have realized by now that at Clip With Purpose, we LOVE putting tote bags in each of our Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.
I also love upcycling items that have lost their use. My daughter just organized her closet and filled up a bag of unwanted clothes for donation. Great fun fabric that was still in very good condition. I picked out 2 pink skirts and 1 pair of pink pants and look what I made:
First cut all the useable fabric apart. Experiment with what you’ve got! Each tote will look different. I was even able to incorporate the skirt zipper into the top of one of the bags. Further upcycling — The white handles were made from the woven ribbon Target uses to tie their stacks of washcloths! (Another shoebox gift.) Here are instructions on how to sew a simple tote to use as a guide, but you will be using different sized fabric.
How to cut up a pair of pants:
The seams were sewn so nicely on the legs, and since they wouldn’t yield wide fabric pieces like a skirt, I decided to make narrow draw string pouches instead.
4 bags can be made from the legs. The cuffs were too worn so I discarded them, otherwise they could have been fashioned into handles. There was too much wear on the waistband or I could have made another bag from the top. I’ll just have to save those pockets for another bag or skirt project.
I already wrote instructions on “How to Make a Drawstring Pouch” – but a few little additions are needed when sewing from pant legs.
Each leg section had one narrow end and one wider one. I chose the wider end as my top (easier to get your hand into it I think). Pants usually have more fabric on the back and less on the front, so to seam the bottom properly, I folded the back of the leg fabric into 3 little tucks.
I also like to “box” the corners.
Before you turn your bag right side out, squeeze the corners together so the seam on the bottom and the seam on the side are aligned. Sew a line across the seam as in the picture below. Note: The farther in from the corner that you sew will result in a larger “box” effect on the bottom of the bag.
Finally, in order to make this a drawstring tote, you will have to open up one side seam a few inches — so when you fold over the top, you can insert the ribbon or cording through one opening and around the top of the bag. (I forgot this part on my first way through this project!! )
If you would like to make a bag using the top part of your pants, I found a good tutorial here: Shoulder Bag from Pants.
Time to rummage through your closets!
We’ve written several other tote bag tutorials:
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