Upcycled Tote Bag

Since two of my favorite past times are shopping and going to quilt shows, I have acquired my fair share of tote bags. I love these bags because they are usually well constructed and they were free! The problem is, I don’t love walking around with advertisements on my bag (Unless I’m advertising Sulky, of course!), so I decided to give this bag a makeover.

(Blurring is intentional)


I started by seam ripping the pocket open.

(Blurring is intentional)

I knew I wanted to add an embroidered design to the pocket so I measured the pocket to see the size of the space and figure seam allowances. I chose to add 1 inch to the top and half an inch to the bottom. I stitched out a cute sewing Spoolie from the Sulky Embroidery Club on some white decorator fabric (I used all the colors that were suggested on the color guide that came with the Spoolie design and I used Sulky Soft ‘n Sheer Extra™ as the stabilizer). Once I stitched the girl out and cut her to size, I put her up against the pocket to audition her. Boy, am I glad I did that! Do you see the show through of the advertisement?


This prompted me to add a layer of Sulky Fuse n Stitch to the back of the Spoolie.



Once I solved the show through problem, I ironed back my seam allowances and placed my new pocket on top of the old one, folding the top seam over the top of the old pocket.


I found the perfect thread to top stitch the new pocket, Sulky 30 wt. Cotton in Purple! I sewed the bottom and top of the pocket first and then reattached the sides under the strap. It is very helpful to have the ability to change your machine to free arm for this if you can.




Tada! You have a brand new tote in about an hour. Enjoy!


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  • Donna Cusick

    I have many of these types of bags. I’ve gotten them from home shows and sewing shows. This is a nice use for them. Thanks for this great reuse idea!

  • Karen Brooks

    Where have you been all my life??? LOL I grew up with a bag addicted mom who got bags from the doctor or hospital all the time (she was very sick the last 6 or so years prior to her passing in 2011) so I have quite a few of these still around – hid from my sister who was clearing things out when she came for the funeral (her intentions were good but you can always use a bag here and there). I am adding this to my ever growing list of projects since starting this journey (my mom was a seamstress by trade and I learned a little from her but was more the tomboy type) in January.


  • Diana Rose

    Perfect! Thanks, since I have a ton of these totes I was wondering how to change them into something I like and not advertise for others.

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