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.
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 sewing it into a tea towel DIY tote – perfect for a project bag or making a run to the farmers market!
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. Here’s how I turned a tea towel into a tote.
Sew a Tote Bag
To make your own tea towel tote to take to the grocery store, you’ll need:
- One gorgeous tea towel
- Sewing machine
- Something to use for the straps. I used 1 1/2 yards of pretty yellow braiding, although webbing is perfect for a tote too.
Start by folding your tea towel in half with right sides facing each other.
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.
Here’s what it looks like from the side.
Pin along each edge, making sure the folds line up at the bottom of your bag.
Zig zag stitch in a straight line along both sides. Your DIY tote bag is almost complete.
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.
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!
DIY Tote Bag
Learn how to make a DIY grocery tote using a tea towel! This is a perfect project for a beginning sewist.
- Tea towel
- Webbing for straps
- Sewing machine
- Fold your tea towel in half with right sides facing each other.
- 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.
- Pin along each edge, making sure the folds line up at the bottom of your bag.
- Zig zag stitch in a straight line along both sides.
- 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.
- Flip it all right side out to use.
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
Saturday 23rd of April 2022
THANK YOU! Just made 19 Tea Towel Totes from my collection (old collection!) of Tea Towels - some for gifts (with a meaning) and others for Cancer Care Kits (to put a smile on the patient's face, we hope) for our Prayer Shawl Ministry. Managed to get package of 1" herringbone cotton tape in various colours through Amazon - bit expensive but really set bags off with matching, or contrasting, handles. Have photos, if you are interested. Thank you again for helping me "get rid" of "stuff"!
Monday 6th of May 2019
I love this.
Sunday 24th of February 2019
Great idea! Seems very easy.
Monday 10th of September 2018
I hope to make a few of these bags for gifts!!
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!
Saturday 25th of August 2018
Thank you so much for including it!