- A denim skirt
- Denim/jeans needle for your sewing machine (needle basics)
- Cotton thread
- Scissors that will cut through denim
- lightweight fusible interfacing (optional)
- Fabric for tote lining (recycled or new yardage, amount varies)
- Cording for belt
- Heavy crocheted lace doily for pocket trim (another thrift store find)
Make the Denim Tote Bag
- Wash, dry and press the denim skirt.
- Lay the skirt on a table or cutting mat and decide how long you would like for it to be. Add about 1/2" to that figure and cut the skirt straight across.
- Cut slight curves along the lower right and left bottom edges of the trimmed skirt. Trace around a large dinner plate or another circular object and make sure that curves match from side to side.
- To make a lining, place the skirt on top of a piece of fabric that’s been folded in half and pinned together to keep it from shifting.
- Cut out the fabric, using the skirt as a template. Add about 1/2" on the sides and bottom edges of the lining and about 3/4" at its top edge.
- Turn the denim skirt inside out and sew a 1/2" seam along its open bottom, backstitching at the beginning and ending of the seam. Press the seam open and turn the skirt right side out.
- Align the lining pieces right sides together and stitch a 1/2" seam from the top of one edge, across the bottom and up to the opposite side of the top edge. Press the seam open.
- Turn under the unsewn top edge of the lining (wrong sides together) about 3/4" and press. Set aside.
- Choose a strap length and width. To make straps, cut two long strips of fabric from leftover denim, adding about 2" to the selected length and 1/2" to the width. Use the binding strip construction method to piece shorter strips together if necessary to achieve the correct length.
- Cut lining fabric to match the length and width of the denim strips (apply lightweight interfacing to the strips if you wish, avoiding the 1/4" outer edges that will become seam allowances).
- Match a denim strip to a lining fabric strip, right sides together. Sew a 1/4" seam along the two long sides. Use a tube turner to turn the sewn unit right side out (or attach a safety pin to the denim at one end and pull it through the tube). Press.
Note: Use another method to construct the handles if you wish.
- Assemble a second handle. Make sure handle lengths are the same.
- Pin one end of a strap behind the belt loop at the front of the tote, denim touching denim and extending about 1-inch inwards. Pin the other end of the strap on the back of the tote, aligning it with the position of the front strap.
- Sew the ends of the strap to the tote. You can stitch a box-like shape around the strap end, placing an "X" in the middle of the box, or sew a series of three vertical lines with a seam just above and below them. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam and pivot with the needle in the fabric when making a turn.
- Place the lining inside the tote, wrong side of the fabric against the denim. Align and pin the lining's upper edge with top of the skirt's waistband.
- Sew two seams around the skirt's waistband, one near the existing seam at the top of the band and one near the seam at the bottom. Sew slowly – you’ll encounter areas thick with denim and moving too quickly may break the needle or hamper accuracy. Remove the pins.
- Cut lace to fit along a pocket and sew it to the skirt with invisible thread or a thread that blends with the lace. I used half of a round lace doily on one side only, because I liked the asymmetrical appearance. You might prefer sewing the lace to both pockets.
- Wrap a length of bulky cord through the belt loops and tie a knot at each end. Tie another knot to hold the ends of the cord together at the center of the tote's waistband.