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Upcycled Navy Polka Dot Handbag or Purse Tote Style

Added Oct 10, 2011

by Maggie Molloy

Tipperary, Ireland






This tote is made from my own very basic pattern. All it uses are two rectangles, sewn together with the bottoms stitched and clipped to give you whatever depth you want on the bag. Its a great beginner style purse because there is no pleating, darting or complicated shaping.

I have at least three projects listed that all use this pattern but with very different fabrics and very different styles so do have a look.

With a bag shape that is this simple its always best to go all out on your fabric and decorations. I always choose very heavy fabric for this style, just to give it a little more oomph! Try tweed skirts, men’s suit jackets or heavy trousers. They all work great. This purse is made from a pair of heavy navy cropped trousers in a ladies size 8, so they were teeny!

Then for the embellishments.. with this one i added a horizontal strap to the top and middle of the flat rectangular panels before they were stitched together. For the middle one i overlapped two shorter straps and stitched them down with three big cream buttons

This was one of the first bags i ever made and looking back now i would probably change a lot, especially the straps! But it is a great beginner shape to try and make yourself and once you use nice heavy fabric and good decoration it wont look like one of the thousands of flimsy ‘pillowcase style’ beginner totes you see patterns for online.

Material Notes

When you buy trousers to upcycle try to get ones that dont have a seam in both sides of the leg. All pants will have an inside seam, but not all will have an outer one. If the pants doesnt, the stitching can be unpicked and the leg will open out to double its width for each leg. Which for 50 cent (cost of this trousers) is a very generous amount of fabric.

For this purse i used.. a pair of navy upcycled trousers, vilene s250 interfacing, sew in wadding & 3 large buttons. The fabric for the purse cost 50cent




Winter, Summer
Garment Type
Beach, Business, Casual, Classic, Preppy, Vintage
Coating, Corduroy, Denim, Leather/Fur, Velvet, Wool



1 Comment Sign in to add a post

  • Dsc02652_large

    Oct 10, 2011, 09.45 AMby suribabe

    Wow, you’ve done a good job. I like the bag.. I like the buttons on it. Could you please do a make it tutorial? I’d like to give it a try..


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