Sew a whimsical DIY tote bar or purse from purchased place mats and cloth napkins.
- Purse: One purchased, standard-size rectangular cloth place mat
- Purse: Matching napkin for handles, tab closure and optional pockets
- Purse: Matching all-purpose thread
- Purse: Four 1-in. x 18 in. strips of cotton quilt batting
- Purse: Standard sewing supplies
- Purse, optional items: trim for top edge (lime-green braided fringe shown); magnetic purse closure or 1-1/2-in. length of Velcro; coordinating buttons or other trim
- Tote: Two matching, purchased rectangular place mats
- Tote: Matching napkin for handles and optional pockets
- Tote: Matching all-purpose thread
- Tote: Four 1-in. x 18-in. strips of cotton quilt batting
- Tote: 1-1/2-in. piece of Velcro tape (optional)
- Tote: Standard sewing supplies
- Fold place mat in half crosswise and with right side up, butt the short (side) edges of the place mat together.
- Sew edges together with a wide satin stitch. Use the widest setting possible with a short stitch length (similar to a buttonhole stitch). Make sure the needle penetrates each side of the place mat. Stitch to within 1 inch of the fold or as far as possible. Repeat on opposite side.
- Turn place mat wrong side out and finger-press the bottom to form two triangles and a flat bottom.
- Straight-stitch across each triangle as shown in illustration. This determines the depth of the purse and forms the bottom. Stitch each side the same so the purse will sit flat.
- Turn purse right side out.
- For handles, pockets and closure options, see below.
- If desired, sew trim around top edge, and attach buttons or other trims.
Finished size: Purse measures about 8 in. high x 10 in. wide x 3 in. deep without handles.
Large DIY Tote Bag:
- Butt the long edges of the two place mats together with right sides up.
- Sew the long edges together with a wide satin stitch to form the bottom seam. Use the widest setting possible with a short stitch length (similar to a buttonhole stitch). Make sure the needle penetrates each side of the place mat.
- Butt the short (side) edges of the place mat together.
- Sew each side as before, starting at the top and stitching to within 1 inch of the bottom seam or as far as possible.
- Turn place mats wrong side out. Finger-press the bottom to form two triangles and a flat
- Straight-stitch across each triangle as shown in Fig. 1. This determines the tote’s depth and forms its bottom. Stitch each side the same so the tote will sit flat.
- Turn tote right side out and sew hook and loop tape centered on opposite insides of top edge of tote.
- For handles, pockets and closure options, see instructions below.
Finished Size: Large tote measures about 11 in. high x 14 in. wide x 4 in. deep, without handles.
- Cut two 3-in.-wide strips from matching napkin.
- Fold handle strip lengthwise into thirds and press. Open and layer two batting strips on top of each other inside handle strip. Fold handle strip over batting to encase. Turn long raw edge of handle under and press.
- Trim handles to desired length and trim batting so it is about 1 inch shorter than handle fabric on both ends. Press raw edges to the inside on each short end of handle.
- Topstitch down the center of the strip and about 1/8 inch from each fold to secure batting.
- Sew the handles to inside or outside of the bag, about 1 inch down from its top edge and 3 to 4 inches from sides.
- From remaining napkin fabric, cut pocket pieces for inside the purse. Cut fabric twice the finished width x the finished length, plus seam allowances and hem. Vary the size to hold pens, cell phones or other items. Just make sure that each pocket is large enough to hold the item, and that your hand will fit inside to retrieve it.
- Fold pocket pieces in half lengthwise with right sides facing to make a tube.
- Sew the sides and bottom edges together with a narrow seam. Hem the top edges. Turn pocket right side out.
- Sew the top edge of only one side of the pocket to the bag’s top edge to minimize stitching on the outside and allow the pocket to hang free.
Magnetic Closure Tab (optional):
- Cut two 4-1/2-in. x 6-1/2-in. pieces from napkin fabric.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, attach one side of magnetic closure to narrow end of one piece, leaving room for seam allowances.
- Sew raw edges together with a narrow seam, stitching a point on the narrow end and leaving an opening for turning. Trim corners and turn tab right side out.
- Turn raw edges in and hand-sew opening closed.
- Sew tab to outside of center top of bag.
- Attach other half of magnetic closure to outside of the bag’s opposite side.
Velcro Closure (optional):
- Cut four 3-1/2-in. x 2-1/2-in. pieces from napkin fabric.
- Sew hook side of Velcro to short end of one fabric piece, leaving room for seam allow-
- ances. Sew loop side to another fabric piece in the same way.
- With right sides facing and raw edges matching, sew pieces with Velcro to remaining fabric pieces with a narrow seam, leaving opposite short ends open for turning. Trim corners diagonally and turn each right side out.
- Turn raw edge of each tab to inside and sew opening closed.
- Sew tabs centered along the inside of bag’s top edge, making sure Velcro pieces meet to close.
Place Mat DIY Tote Bag or DIY Purse sent in by Judy Foglio of Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Photographed by Country Woman Magazine.