Friday, September 28, 2012

Tote Tutorial (Repurposing Men's Dress Shirt)

I'm seriously pleased with how this tote turned out. I had seen a tutorial over at Make It-Love It Boys Church Tote Tutorial for a little boy church bag made from a mens shirt and tie and I fell in love. How adorable to use one of Dad's shirts and ties to make a bag for a little guy? Well, as things usually go for me I had to figure out how to make one for a little girl! I can't do things the easy way and just follow the tutorial given! I actually didn't follow her tutorial. I had made a tote before and really liked the way I had done it so I decided to do it that way. You can make the tote whatever size you would like and that your shirt will allow. 

1 Men's long sleeve dress shirt
Duck Cloth for lining (about 2/3 of a yard)
Jersey knit for ruffles (perfect time to use an old t-shirt) You could use a cotton but you would have to hem the bottom and sides of the ruffles to prevent fraying. 
1 yard of fusible medium weight interfacing 
Coordinating thread, pins, scissors, etc.

This tutorial uses a 1/2 inch seam allowance unless otherwise stated.

Step 1: Iron your shirt and duck cloth

Step 2: Cut out 2 lining pieces, 2 outer pieces and 2 pieces of interfacing 17"wide x 12"tall making sure the buttons on the shirt go down the middle of the rectangle. Try to cut it out so that the pocket of the shirt is about 2 inches below the top. Sew down the front of the shirt to keep it from opening. 

Step 3: Cut a square out of the bottom corners of all pieces 2" x 2"

Step 4: Cut 2 strap pieces from the shirt and 2 from the duck cloth 2.5" x 17"

Step 5: If you want pockets cut them now. I chose to use one pocket and cut 1 rectangle 8.5"x10" from the lining and the shirt
Step 6: Cut 2 strips of your jersey knit 2" wide by double the width of the tote. So my strips were 2" x 35".  I was using a t-shirt I bought at Goodwill so I had to cut 4 strips 2"x17" and sew them together to get the length I wanted. 

Step 7: Gather your knit strips. For a tutorial on gathering go here: Make It-Love It Ruffle Tutorial I am in love with her blog and her tutorials. I chose to only put ruffles on the front but you could easily put them on the front and back of the tote. She has a great tutorial on making a tote with ruffles. Check it out here: Make It-Love It Ruffle Tote Tutorial

Step 8: Attach the ruffles to the bottom of the front of the tote. I chose to add the bottom ruffle about 2 inches from the top of the notched out corners. Add the top ruffle so that it overlaps the bottom one. 

Step 9: Add the ric-rack to cover the stitching across the top of the ruffles. You can use ribbon instead. 

Step 10: Iron on the fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the outer (shirt) fabric.

Step 11: Make dots on the back side of the lining and outer sides of the tote 1/2 inch in at each corner. 

Step 12: Sew your pocket right sides together leaving about a 2-3 inch opening on the long side for turning. Flip it, poke out corners and press flat. 

Step 13: If you want to add a closure  (like velcro or a magnetic closure) center them on the right side of the lining fabric about 1 inch from the top and sew them on.

Step 14: Sew pocket to center of back piece of lining. I don't close the hole left from flipping until this stage when I stitch it to the lining piece. 

Step 15: Sew strap pieces right sides together down the long sides, flip and press flat. 

Step 16: Sew sides and bottom of the outer pieces (right sides together) stopping at the dots you drew. 

Step 17: Sew sides and bottom of the lining pieces (right sides together) stopping at dots. Make sure to leave about a 4 inch opening down one side. This is so that you can turn it right side out in the end. 

Step 18: Make the squared off corners. Fold the corners so that the side and bottom seams line up. Sew across using a 5/8 inch seam allowance. Do this for the lining and outer shell. 

Step 19: Iron seams open. 

Step 20: Turn outer shell right side out. 

Step 21: Pin straps to the right sides of the outer shell about 3 inches from the seam and baste stitch in place about 1/4 inch from top. Make sure they aren't twisted. (I forgot to take a picture, sorry)

Step 21: Place outer shell into the lining (right sides together). Make sure the straps are tucked safely between the lining and outer shell. 

Step 22: Sew across the top using a 1/2 inch seam allowance back stitching across the straps to re-inforce. You can finish your edges at the top now to prevent fraying. I chose to use pinking shears instead of serging or zig-zag stitching. 

Step 23: Turn the bag right side out by pulling the outer shell through the hole left in the inner lining. Press flat. 

Step 24: Close the hole in the lining. You could choose to hand stitch but I just top-stitch about 1/8" seam allowance to close this opening. 

Step 25: Topstitch around the top of the bag about 1/2 inch from top to hold the lining and outer shell together. 

Ta-da your bag is done! 
I chose to add a flower to the base of one of the straps. I made the flower based off of this tutorial: Make It-Love It Shirred Fabric Flower Tutorial. I machine stitched it to the bag at the base of one of the handles. 


  1. OK your totally AMAZING! When are you opening an Etsy store???? :)

  2. Oh that's awesome. Easy to make also. Thanks for sharing this idea