DIY: Upcycled Market Tote

Today's DIY was a family effort! Over the holidays I photographed my mom sewing these clever totes and my sister modeling the tote. It was so much fun and I wish I had them around all the time! These totes are easy to make - even a beginning seamstress can whip these out. And guess what? They are made entirely of recycled materials. 

a curtain or even better, a valance, with large metal eyelets at the top // an old belt // sewing supplies
Step 1: Fold one side of your valance over and line up two metal grommets on the front with two other metal eyelets on the back. 

Step 2: Measure a determined amount on either side of the grommets for the width of your bag. The width of your bag is limited by the grommet spacing. Use that mark to cut length-wise down the valance for the length of your bag.
Step 3: Sew up all sides of your tote. This fabric is a bit bulky so be sure to trim your corners and excess fabric on the seam allowance to ensure clean lines and sharp edges when you turn your tote inside out. 

Step 4: Recycle an old belt for your tote handles. If you have a sewing machine that can handle leather, that would be ideal. But we used an old canvas belt. Fold the belt in half and cut down the middle, giving you two straps.
Step 5: Place the belt through the grommets from the front of the tote. That way your frayed edges will be on the inside of the tote.

Step 6: Sew your belt to itself, creating a handle. You will do this four times - once for each grommet. You are done! Easy-peasy, right?

It's perfect for the library, grocery store or as an everyday purse. It even fit my laptop! Here are some more photos of my pretty sister - I couldn't resist.

Do you think you could do this? Wasn't my mom's idea to use a valance a great one? It creates a very clean, finished look.


  1. That;s a GREAT idea! I put smaller grommets in things now and then, and was wondering how you "installed" those huge ones...very clever use of existing materials! Love the bag, and the design idea :)

  2. Forgot to say, your sister did a fine job on the modeling, also! Love the outfit :)

  3. What a great way to upcycle an old curtain! I love this idea as I am always on the lookout for bags I can take with me to the grocery store and farmers market.

  4. this is awesome! And I love seeing you in this post! =)

  5. i LOVE this, totally inspire to recreate!

  6. This is really cool! I was wondering how you got those giant grommets. Using a pre-made valance is a great trick!

  7. what a brillant upcycle!! the tote is so simple but chic & I LOVE the pics you took of your sis in the woods. she & the scenery are just stunning. and ah, your family has amazing hair genes!

  8. This bag is so cute! (as is your sister's sweater) I love that it re-uses materials. Jess


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