Monday, March 8, 2010

Skirt to Bag: A Tutorial and Giveaway

I just love making old things into new things, don't you? Before I ever throw anything out, I'm always asking myself how I could possibly re-vamp it to make it useful again. And I adore seeing re-made old things when I shop; there's just all sorts of cleverness out there when it comes to making something from another thing! Here's my take on it today, using an old skirt and some fabric scraps.

Please forgive the highly random image-quality here. The photos were taken over the course of the day (so I lost my natural light) and I believe some children who shall remain nameless kept changing the camera's settings ... :)

Okay, so first I took an old ill-fitting skirt, and hacked the bottom off to be used elsewhere (I'm adding a ruffle to the bottom of a too-short but super-cute skirt, but that's another project):

And a couple blocks of cute fabric (these are about 14.5" x 11"):

I laid the fabric on top of the skirt and trimmed the skirt down to size:

Like this:

Then I noticed that the top of the skirt was curved. So I curved the top of the fabric pieces, too:

Next, I took a scrap of a different fabric (simply because I didn't have enough of the first one ... but they look alright together, right?) and cut two pieces to the size I wanted the inside pocket to be (they ended up to be 11" x 7"):

To make the pocket, I sewed the pieces right-sides together, leaving an opening for turning. Then I clipped the corners, turned right-side out, pressed, and stitched the pocket to the lining, using the open end as the bottom so that stitching it to the lining would close the opening:

Later, I realized that the pocket was placed entirely too low, and had to dismantle and reposition. I do stuff like that all the time, though, so it was only a minor frustration ... :) The waistband on this skirt had a little flap on the inside that I could attach the top of the lining to, tucking it under the flap and then stitching across:

(I totally left the tag on ...
it's a reminder that this bag used to be something completely different.
And that makes me happy :)

With outside right-sides together, sew it all together around the sides and bottom, like this:

Much later, after the bag was all done, my good friend and fellow Praiseworthy blogger, Jen, suggested adding some bias tape to finish up the raw edges. So I did, but I'll put the photos here because this is where that step should go:

Next comes the shoulder strap, which I made by cutting a piece of fabric 5" x width-of-fabric. I kept it long to start with because I wasn't sure how long I wanted it to end up. Then I folded it in half, stitched along the long edge, turned and pressed with the seam in the middle, like this:

To make the strap more substantial, I cut a piece of quilt batting 2" x really-really-long and slid it into the strap through an open end:

Then I cut it to the length I wanted, pressed it, and sewed lines along the length to keep the batting in place:

Next, I wanted a way to close the bag, so I took a piece of excess strap and cut it down to a nice size, rounded one end and stitched it closed:

Then I turned the closure piece and pressed it, stitched around the edge, and fished out my sewing machine manual to try and remember how to make a button-hole. Once that was done, I turned the open end in, and stitched the closure strap to the inside of the bag, like this:

Added a button and the straps, hiding the inside raw edges at the top of the bag as I did so:

And ... done!

I purposely made the closure strap a little too long like that, so that the bag could be closed when full, like this:

(It's a hardback copy of Don Delillo's "Underworld",
in case you were wondering what's inside ... )

And here's how it hangs. And yes, the fabric I used for the pocket and straps is the same as my curtains. I just adore that fabric! :)

Hooray, a new bag! Do you like it? Would you like it? Because I want to give it to you. Leave a comment below and tell me where you would shop if time and distance and money and small children were not an object, and I'll draw a random name out of a hat (or a bowl ... or a bag ... maybe *this* bag!) on Friday (that's March 12, say, around noon pacific time?). I'll post the winner soon thereafter.


  1. That is so cute, Rachel! Your craftiness and creativity never ceases to amaze me!

  2. The bag is darling! So the question is where would I shop if I had no restraints...hmmm...I really want to go to this architectural salvage place just down the street.Or maybe somewhere is Washington so I could visit all you ladies!

  3. Fun! I've always wanted a cute handmade bag. Wow, where would I shop? I have no idea. Not much of a shopper - maybe a store that sells cool kitchen supplies...or a place like TJ Maxx...boring, I know! Ha! :) (To be honest, I wish I could make more trips to the local DI which sells used clothing and stuff!)

  4. If time and distance was not a issue I would go some ware like Italy or Egypt. I would love to purchase art and items unique to the region.
    Love the bag :)

  5. Such a clever bag. My daughter, Josi, also enjoys crafting bags. There is such energy in creativity. I LOVE your blog, girls, tipped off to me by another daughter, Chandra Peterson. I love shopping anywhere when I am with friends or family and they are enjoying themselves, as well. Blessings.

  6. Oh my goodness, Rachel! That is so cute! :) Hmmm. Shopping. I've never bought anything here, but if time, money and kids weren't an obsaticle, I really liking the clothes at Banana Republic lately.

  7. Good job with the cute bag. My friend Cortney posts on this blog so I thought I would check it out. If money wasn't an issue Anthropolgie all the way! The drive and baby isn't so much the problem just the price tag. :)

  8. This is so cute! I'm amazed at what you cute ladies come up with... so much talent! Hm... where would I shop if I had no restrictions? I LOVE home decor stores :) So probably somewhere like Rod Works. Yes, I'm a college student with no money, but decorating is so fun to me!

  9. Shopping?? Most likely the Covington Good will. LOL I know I am frugal, even when money isn't tight. I like to make my money stretch.

    You make your curtains??!! Wow, I found mine for 3$ for 2 panels at walmart, and since that was cheaper than making, well I deal with the color :) I am going to spruce them up with some other fabric someday.. when I find one I like.
    I love your bag! Too cute.

  10. That is such a cute bag! How do you come up with such clever ideas?! I'm not a big shopper, lack of money helps with that... I'd be thrilled going to Target and getting a few splurges!!

  11. I adore this bag! Wow, it is so cute! You should open an Etsy shop!

    I would shop at Anthropology and / or Pottery Barn.

  12. This bag is so cute! I have made one of your carseat bookbags, and would love to win this purse. I would take it with me to Florida to shop in the warm weather or to Joann Fabrics!

    Sarah Thompson

    Sarahjo9879 {at} aol {dot} com

  13. Cute ideas, Rachel. I love how you are fearless about just jumping in and making cute things (like the car book/craft caddy). I have no kids with me during the day, so I can shop but don't really (lack of money, mostly). I would shop wherever I could with my sisters and mom!

  14. with no restraints i would love to shop at michael's. where i'm at there isn't a decent craft store. and i love your bag!!!!

  15. A flea market in Paris. But I think I'll need to take along a few large shopping bags in addition to your lovely bag! ~H

  16. I love the bag! So cute. I'd make one if my sewing machine wasn't dead right now. Boo. So I guess I should go shopping for a new sewing machine, but if small children were not involved, I'd really rather spend a whole day at the used book store. :-)

  17. That is awesome. I love it. I want to make one. Maybe even today. A trip to the thrift store is on my mind....hmmm. I always can find super cool fabric remnants there, and I'd bet a skirt that desires to be a bag.

  18. Fantastically cute bag, Rachel! (I definitely want to be in for the drawing...I love your ideas!) I am one of Jen's twin sisters and I love reading all of the inspiring thoughts and ideas on this blog. As far as shopping goes, I love to antique shop. Since I have no little ones at home, I usually have a little more time and antique shopping can be CHEAP! I only wish I could do it with my family--that's the most fun!

  19. Cute bag! What a great idea. And I don't have a good answer to your question. I guess I'd shop somewhere with quality and class.

  20. I love it! I'm so glad I saw this post just in time to enter the drawing!

  21. I am always on the look out for a new purse! This is great and I love the strap that is a different color. I would use it shopping at the christmas market in Germany,those markets are magical! thanks for posting this giveaway

  22. anthropologie. hands down. please oh please pick me. :)

  23. Ohhhhh if I could shop without children where would I go? ANYWHERE! You can't get much done with four young kids.

  24. I probably missed the deadline, but will comment anyway. This is awesome!

  25. Hello! inspired by your tutorial, I made myself a tote bag! Thanks for the tutorial! :D Oh and whenever I am in the US, I love shopping at outlet malls. :P:P:P:P love love!