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DIY Tote Bag from a Tea Towel in Less Than an Hour

Learn how to make a DIY tote bag from a thrift store tea towel. This project is easy, cute, and budget friendly! Makes a great gift idea.

Skills Required: Beginner. The sewing is very simple, so if you’re just starting out with a sewing machine, you’ll be able to tackle this project.

DIY Tote Bag from a Tea Towel in Less Than an Hour

If you’re a vintage and thrift store lover like me, chances are you have a sizable stash of favorite items that rarely see the light of day. You’re either short on space to display them, or you’ve been holding out on using them for just the right occasion (like china settings) so they won’t be ruined.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from thrifting for nearly two decades, it’s that I can’t bring all the pretty things home, and if I do, I need to put it to use or pass it back along.

So, to go along with my unofficial resolution of paring down my vintage stash this year, I’m putting one of my favorite vintage tea towels to good use by turning it into a tea towel DIY tote – perfect for a project bag or making a run to the farmers market!

Tea towel taped to the wall

This tea towel would have made a perfect wall hanging, but I just don’t have a good space for it in my house. I love the bold flower print, and it’s 100% linen with finished edges–and it’s from the year my husband was born, so I couldn’t not bring it home with me.

But the thing is, I bought it like two years ago and I haven’t done anything with it! Time for a change!

Tea towel, pins, scissors, and braiding

Sew a Tote Bag

To make your own tea towel tote to take to the grocery store, you’ll need:

Start by folding your tea towel in half with right sides facing each other.

Folding the end of the tea towel

I made my DIY tote bag with boxed corners, and instead of measuring and sewing off triangles, you can simply take the folded bottom edge and push it up between the front and back of the fabric, creating a kind of pleat.

Looking at a folded tea towel from the side

Here’s what it looks like from the side.

Pins along the side of the tea towel

Pin along each edge, making sure the folds line up at the bottom of your bag.

Sewing down the edge of a tea towel to make a tote
Zig zag stitch along the edge of the tea towel

Zig zag stitch in a straight line along both sides. Your DIY tote bag is almost complete.

Braiding sewn on to the edge of the tea towel tote

Then pin and stitch your handles into place. You can make them as wide or far apart as you like. If you’re using webbing, I recommend sewing it on with a boxed “X” to provide more support, the braiding was a little thick and finicky, so I just zig zagged back and forth a few times.

How to sew a tote from a tea towel
DIY grocery bag from a tea towel

Flip it all right side out and you have your DIY tote bag! I just adore the fold that’s created with the boxed edges like this, like a pretty little envelope!

Yield: 1 bag

DIY Tote Bag

DIY Tote Bag

Learn how to make a DIY grocery tote using a tea towel! This is a perfect project for a beginning sewist.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Active Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $5

Materials

  • Tea towel
  • Thread
  • Webbing for straps

Tools

  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors

Instructions

  1. Fold your tea towel in half with right sides facing each other.
  2. You'll make boxed corners. Instead of measuring and sewing off triangles, you can simply take the folded bottom edge and push it up between the front and back of the fabric, creating a pleat.
  3. Pin along each edge, making sure the folds line up at the bottom of your bag.
  4. Zig zag stitch in a straight line along both sides.
  5. Pin and stitch your handles into place. If you're using webbing, I recommend sewing it on with a boxed "X" to provide more support.
  6. Flip it all right side out to use.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a rating or share a photo on Pinterest!


This tea towel bag is so simple and quick, it makes a great last-minute gift idea. If you want more tea towel ideas, check out the other tutorials:

Floral Coloring Book Tea Towel

Adult coloring isn't just for the pages of a coloring book - use fabric markers on this DIY tea towel to make a unique Christmas, birthday, or hostess gift personalized with color! Great Silhouette or Cricut project.

Fruit Stamping on Tea Towels

DIY fruit stamping on tea towels

Sukie

Monday 6th of May 2019

I love this.

Kathy

Sunday 24th of February 2019

Great idea! Seems very easy.

Nana

Monday 10th of September 2018

I hope to make a few of these bags for gifts!!

Maddy

Saturday 25th of August 2018

Awwww, I love this so much. I love tea towels. I included this in my roundup of fall crafts I want to try. Thank you! http://kaijumaddy.com/2018/08/19/9-fall-crafts-diy-ideas/

Amy

Saturday 25th of August 2018

Thank you so much for including it!

carley

Sunday 26th of February 2017

hi! can you let me know where you found the yellow braided strap? thanks!

Amy

Thursday 2nd of March 2017

Hi Carley! I'd check at JoAnns - but it may not be there after two years. I'd do a search online if you can't find it there.

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