Recycled Tote Bag or Purse

placemat purse

How to Make a Recycled Tote Bag or Purse

Many stores now have a “bring your own bag” policy to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags. While this is great for the environment, it usually means you end up buying some form of cheap fabric bag, printed with the store name, to carry your purchases home.

Here are some stylish shopping bag or alternatives – made mostly from recycled materials, it is true, but oh-so-much-better than turning yourself into a walking billboard for the local foodland.

Make a Purse from a Placemat

tshirttote (5K)

Lorain Blanken, the talented guide for DIY Fashion, has easy step-by-step instructions to make a handy Placemat Purse; perfect for personal shopping or carrying smaller items.

Your local thrift store likely has lots of pretty placemats – pick out a nice one, and look for a set of purse handles (or make fabric handles in coordinating fabric). This project doesn’t even require a sewing machine; just hand sew the two side seams and fasten on the handle, and you’re done.

tshirtshoppingbag (10K)

Recycled T-shirt Purses or Totes

I also like the project Lorain has for a casual T-Shirt Purse, made from two recycled tees, cleverly fashioned from two triangles of t-shirt fabric. Lorain provides how-to’s for hand sewing the triangles together; again, no sewing machine required.

You get a sense for how creative this designer is when you see the T-Shirt Grocery Tote that she made one night from two large t-shirts. Read her directions to make your own.

Doggie Bag Tote

dogbag (13K)Pet lovers finally have a use for all those extra large (and extra strong) bags of dog food with recycling instructions from Beverly Watkins to make a Doggie Bag Tote.

Cat lovers, of course, can recycle larger bags of cat food for a feline-themed version. Apparently, the pet food aroma can be washed out, either by hand, or on a gentle cycle in the washing machine, followed by line drying.

Knit a Tote from Plastic Shopping Bags

recycled knitted shopping bagTote Knitted from Plastic Bags

No matter how hard you try, you’ll likely still collect a stash of plastic shopping bags on your travels. Knitters can put those to good use with this free pattern for a roomy and colorful Recycled Plastic Shopping Bag Tote.

Crochet a Plarn Bag

recycled plastic bag backpack

Over at, check out this stylish Recycled Plarn Backpack Pattern – as well as this free crocheted bag pattern, you’ll find detailed instructions on how to make yarn from plastic bags (plarn) and how to line a bag made from plarn.

Fuse Plastic Bags to Make a Tote

In the craft project Library, you’ll find great instructions showing how to make a Fused Recycled Bag Tote. fused recycled plastic bag toteEssentially, this involves ironing a stack of plastic bags under parchment paper to fuse them into single pieces. The fused sections are then sewn together with simple exterior seams to form a tote bag. Love it!