Turning an old T-shirt or unwanted dress into a grocery bag is an easy way to go green for National Recycling Week 2014…

DIY Recycled Fabric Tote Bag

Did you know 150,000,000 plastic bags are used in the UK every week? And each one takes around a 100 years to rot away! A recycled fabric tote bag is the perfect alternative for carrying home your groceries – plus they’re easier to carry and won’t split. With some spare fabric, a little thread, and some basic sewing skills, you can have fabulous new tote bag that not only looks great, but is truly original.

DIY Recycled Fabric Tote Bag

Here’s what you’ll need…

3 different fabrics
Needled & thread
Tape measure
Scissors
Iron (optional)

DIY Recycled Fabric Tote Bag

 Here’s what you’ll need to do…

1. Choose your fabric. Any type of fabric will work, whether you want to use denim from an old pair of jeans or a cotton print dress to make your own tote bag. To make the patchwork bag design, as pictured, you’ll need at least 3 different patterned fabrics. In this tutorial, we’ve chosen to upcycle leftover fabric from our Kiki Printed Patchwork Dress.

2. Create the two sides. For each side of the bag, measure out your pieces of fabric to total 16″ by 16″. We’ve chosen to use three different sized pieces of fabric, stitching the two smallest pieces of material together first (with a 1cm seam allowance) and then adding the final bigger piece (again with a 1cm seam allowance). We’ve cut rounded corners on the bottom of the bag (by folding the fabric in half and cutting them together to keep the corners equal) but you can keep them square if preferred! Then iron the seams if necessary.

3. Sow the sides together. With the back of the fabric facing outwards, join the two sides of the bag together by sowing up the three edges, with a 1cm seam allowance. For extra support for when you add the straps, we also recommend then folding the top of the bag and creating a 2cm hem.

DIY Recycled Fabric Tote Bag

4. Create the straps. With your chosen fabric, measure and cut out two pieces material of 26″ in length and 2.5″ in width. Then to create a 1″ wide strap, fold the material in half, and fold in the two edges by 0.25″ and sow the edges together (using an iron to press the folded fabric first if needed). Repeat to create the second strap.

DIY Recycled Fabric Tote Bag

5. Attach the straps. Along the top of your bag, measure approximately 4″ in from each side and stitch on the end of each strap.

DIY Recycled Fabric Tote Bag

6. Finishing touches. As a cute finishing touch… unpick the label from your unwanted t-shirt or dress and sow it into the bag.

DIY Recycled Fabric Tote Bag

TOP TIP! You can add lots of smaller patches to your bag if you’ve got lots of different scraps of fabric spare, or try adding fabric flowers, tassels or ribbon as extra embellishment.

Posted by Jo