Errands are an unavoidable part of life but having a tote handy can make the process much easier. These traditional canvas bags provide extra help, whether hauling books to the library, picking up groceries or even getting a few more supplies to school. Totes are also useful when heading to the beach with plenty of accessories in tow. While totes are readily available to purchase at the store, it’s likely that the materials needed to create one at home are already lying around. Turn a few tea towels into a one-of-a-kind tote that does that same job as the store-bought version at a fraction of the price.
A sewing machine is required for this project, but it doesn’t take long to transform three tea towels into a colorful and durable tote. Choose tea towels in a variety of hues and patterns for a more dramatic final product that’s fun to take out and about. A small swatch of fabric quickly becomes a tote pocket for added storage while colorful webbing that corresponds to the tea towel patterns or colors can be used for straps. Most tea towels are made of cotton, meaning the final tote will be extra soft and easy to wash. When this tote isn't being used, hang it on the wall as an accessory and consider adding a small bouquet of lavender to the pocket.
-Tea towels (3)
-Webbing, 1” wide
-Webbing, 1” wide
1. Fold a tea towel in half lengthwise.
2. Cut the tea towel along the fold line.
3. Fold a second tea towel into quarters lengthwise.
4. Cut the tea towel along the fold line between the second and third fold.
5. Fold a third tea towel in half lengthwise.
6. Measure out a 3” by 10” rectangle along the fold starting at the bottom right corner of the tea towel. Use a ruler and oil pencil for accuracy before cutting the rectangle swatch from the tea towel.
7. Position the first tea towel halves on a flat working surface with backsides facing each other.
8. Place the small rectangle of fabric in the center of the top tea towel half, lining it up with the bottom edge of the larger towel.
9. Line up a length of 1” wide webbing along both edges of the small rectangle allowing the loop to extend up and over the top of the large tea towel half as a strap.
10. Pin the webbing in place with sewing pins 4.5" from the edges of the base tea towel. Pin through the small rectangle of fabric on both sides and the bottom of the tea towel. Set the tea towel to the side.
11. Flip the bottom tea towel half over so the colorful side is facing up and pin a second identical length of webbing to the center of the fabric. Allow the loop to extend over the top edge, and make sure the webbing is 4.5” away from the edge on both sides.
12. Stitch the webbing in place on both halves of the tea towel.
13. Place the half with the rectangle pocket on the table with the pocket facing up, and position one half of the tea towel that was originally folded into quarters on top. Make sure the edges are lined up and the decorative side is facing down toward the pocket.
14. Pin the raw edges of the two tea towels together before flipping the top tea towel over so the decorative side is revealed.
15. Position the remaining tea towel with the strap attached on top of the flipped tea towel. Make sure the edges are lined up and the strap is facing up toward the pocket on the first tea towel.
16. Pin the raw edges of the second and third tea towels together before stitching them in place.
17. Fold the entire length of fabric in half so both sets of straps meet at the top and the decorative sides of all the tea towels are facing each other at the interior.
18. Pin the sides and bottom edges before stitching them in place.
19. Mark a 3” by 3” square in oil pencil on both the bottom left and right corners.
20. Pinch each of the corners together within the marked square and pin across the fold.
21. Stitch the corners in place.
22. Turn the tote inside out so the pocket and colorful side of the former tea towels are visible.
23. Use the tote for errands or when heading to the beach. When it’s not in use, hang the tote in the kitchen and add a bouquet of lavender to the pocket for a lovely aromatic touch.