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Homemade Tote Ideas

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Totes have many uses from grocery shopping to carrying your craft supplies. This is a page about homemade tote ideas.


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By 4 found this helpful
November 13, 2008

This is a Christmas tote bag made of quilting scraps. I made this tote bag from two squares of 30 by 30 inch material with batting in the middle. You then quilt them together and put a binding around the raw edges. It's like making a 30 by 30 quilt square or you can use the pre-quilted material, just add your binding.

You then lay face down, fold the two opposite corners to the middle, overlapping each other. This, you will see, will give you a square in the middle. Sew around the square in the middle, this will give you the inside pockets.

Then flip wrong sides together and sew up your sides. Take the bottom and sew 2 inches from the corner point across, this will give you a boxed bottom. Do this on each side. Then cut off point and discard. Make sure you zig zag across where you just cut. Turn this to the inside. You are now on the outside of your tote. Fold down your outside flaps, sew across the top of tote about a half inch.


You are now ready to make your handles. Cut matching material into 2 - 4 inch by how ever you long you want your handles to be. Fold the material, each side to the middle and press. Then fold once again and sew on each side of strap. Do this to both pieces of material. You should now have two straps ready to sew on your tote.

Measure 1 1/2 inches from the top corner of the tote, pin your strap in place making it a good inch down in the tote. Sew across the strap several times to secure. So this for both side of handle. You then take a piece of sew on velcro and sew at top between handles on both sides.

This is was not my original pattern but I have modified it to my own liking. The embroidery patterns used are from the free embroidery pattern section of sew forum and I take no credit for them, they are gifts from the wonderful digitizers there. I only embroidered them on to my tote bag. Oh, the inside pockets are at an odd angle but this is the way it is made. Don't worry, things will not fall out of the pockets as they are quite deep.


By Madeline from Jacksonville, Alabama

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By 3 found this helpful
November 5, 2007

I make cakes, make quilts, and now I decided to get into purses and totebags. I take the fabric and cut into squares, four squares any measure. I do the same thing with the inside lining. Sew the front and back together as well as the lining. Make the handles any length you like and sew it to the top of the purse or totebag.


You can add pockets in the inside or outside, simply cut a small square and stitch to the bag front or inside. You can also add embellishments and voila! Show it off as you wear your creation.

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July 6, 20070 found this helpful

A tote makes a quick homemade present for anyone!



  1. Embroider or write your slogan or picture onto one of the rectangles of fabric, roughly in the centre.
  2. Turn over the top of both rectangles and sew to make a hem.
  3. Sew on two pieces of ribbon to the top for handles.
  4. Place the two rectangles right sides together and sew the remaining three sides.
  5. Voila!

By Beth from England

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April 29, 2009

Since we are celebrating "going green" I thought I'd share yet another tote idea. I made these totes (5 in all) for our church fair last fall. Someone generously donated the denim fabric.

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By 0 found this helpful
May 16, 2011

We all try to "go green" and one good way is by using tote bags instead of plastic. Depending on what kind of bag you choose, most can be purchased for $1.00.


Totes can be used in many ways and I decorated these for my two daughters in law for Mother's Day.

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November 12, 2007

Did you know you can recycle Tyvek into a waterproof and durable lining for fabric projects. Tyvek can be found in jumpsuits/coveralls for industry work. This type of Tyvek is very soft and fabric-like. You can also recycle Tyvek from mailing envelopes.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
August 11, 2007

Our church ministers to residents of a nearby nursing home. We are looking for a pattern for a tote bag with compartments that can be placed between the box springs and mattress.

Betty from Mesa, AZ


August 14, 20070 found this helpful

I'm not sure what you want. A tote bag to carry or an organizer to place between the mattress & springs for the residents to use? For the organizer, decide what size pockets they need (the size of puzzle books, paper backs, remote, their bible, glasses, writing tablet, pencils, etc.). Sew the pocket and leave about 8 inches at the top. Put a pocket across the top to slide a dowel rod in. The dowel rod can be inserted between the mattress and springs and let the pockets hang down the sides within reach of the residents. The pockets can be in a strip or you can make several different sizes so the organizer can be customized for each individual. They can also be slid off the dowel rod and laundered. These are handy for anyone confined to bed for any length of time.

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By (Guest Post)
August 15, 20070 found this helpful

You can make two pocket type holders and attach them to a strip of material that runs the width of your mattress. Remove the mattress and place this on the box spring.
There was a wonderful pattern for this in Family Fun magazine a while back. They have a website, perhaps you could find it there.

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August 15, 20070 found this helpful

Or are you looking for the cute ones I've seen that attach to a walker so they can carry things with them without using their hands?

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August 15, 20070 found this helpful

I took some quilted fabric (bargain table at fabric store). Use quilt binding for a neat edge. Make pockets to fit remotes, cell phone, pens or note pad etc. One larger pocket could be for a magazine ot TV schedule. I used peel & stick velcro to attach ... Put one side on the box spring or even on the bed skirt. Match the other side to the back of the pocket holder. If you use a flat pice of quilted fabric with the pockets attached it will hang down beside the bed within easy reach with no bulges.

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By kitty (Guest Post)
September 27, 20070 found this helpful

Use two placemats: Fold one almost in half (3/4) and sew this to the other placement. Now you have two pockets, sew vertical strips to create pockets for glasses,tissues etc. The long end of the placemat gets tucked between the mattress and box springs. Hope this makes sense to you.

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November 18, 20070 found this helpful

http://www.ange  reepatterns.html

This website has tons of patterns for things such as walker totes, bed organizers, etc. I hope it helps others as it helps me alot!

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By (Guest Post)
February 10, 20080 found this helpful

Can I get a denim school bag pattern roughly 1 foot tall and 9 inches wide?

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December 6, 20060 found this helpful

I'd like to make tote bags with fringe from some blanket material and old suede jackets I have. I've never made one. Can someone help?

Karen from Ontario, Canada


February 19, 20090 found this helpful

I love the place mat idea! I like to use my old beautiful sweaters. Or patchworks from the pieces of favorite embellishments from worn out jeans or shirts. I hate to get rid of pretty decorations.

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January 31, 20171 found this helpful

Use strips of plastic grocery bags to make this sturdy crochet tote. This is a page about making a tote bag from recycled plastic bags.

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July 4, 20181 found this helpful

Old jeans can find new purpose via many recycled projects. Here is a link to making a tote bag from retired jeans. This is a page about making a recycled denim tote bag.

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June 2, 20171 found this helpful

Once your tote bag is made the last step it to craft the handles. For some crafts this step can be more difficult. This is a page about making tote bag handles.

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December 26, 20160 found this helpful

This is a page about making a tote bag from a dog food bag. Use the woven fabric from bulk pet food to make sturdy totes.

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October 16, 20160 found this helpful

This is a page about making a blue jean Halloween bag. Using an old pair of child's jeans, you too can make this cute trick or treat bag.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

December 6, 20060 found this helpful

I love making creations out of everyday things. I would really like to know other people's ideas on how to make great purses and tote bags from material and objects that people might not think of to use. They can be any size or shape! Any suggestions?

Natasha From Ontario


Making Tote Bags From Recycled Items

Try denium jeans, you could make regualr purses, using a "pocket" for cell phone. Use the leg part of the jeans for a small shoulder bag. (06/27/2005)

By Patricia Shook

Making Tote Bags From Recycled Items

All I can think of is fabric: old clothes, sheets, blankets, quilts, towels, curtains, apholstery. If you use clothing with pockets, the pockets can come in handy.

If you crochet, you can cut plastic grocery sacks into rings (cut strips going across), attach the rings together by looping each one into the next, and then use a large crochet hook. (06/28/2005)

By Debbie

Making Tote Bags From Recycled Items

Last summer I stumbled onto the idea of making totes or purses from fabric place mats. I just folded one in half right sides together, sewed up the sides, then turned it right side out and added handles made from webbing or ribbon. I've embellished them with fringe, beads, silk flowers, you name it. They make great small gifts and can even be used as a gift bag. It's so easy to find really cheap place mats on clearance shelves. Hope you like this idea! (06/28/2005)

By barb

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