"Cornishware" Ruffled Shopping Bag

Update an old shopping tote bag with scraps of fabric to give it a pretty cornishware look.

an old shopping tote bag with stripes of blue and white fabric sewn in ruffles, resembling cornishware pottery

I love reusable shopping bags, I simultaneously have loads and never enough - how does that work?

Sometimes we get lucky and are given them at open days and events and though it's nice to have another bag they are not always the prettiest things on the planet. To fix this I have a cunning plan and a stash of fabric scraps.

In the past I have just covered the fronts with a piece of fabric or two.

plain shopping bags embellished with scraps of colourful fabric

See how the fabric covers the writing, I don't mind about the inside!

inside bag.jpg

Can I just point out here I would never cover something promoting a charity or the like, if a bag was sold to raise money and awareness I would use it with pride. Government departments, not so bothered!

The one I have had most compliments on is this one with the ruffles.

frill detail.jpg

So when this bag came my way (and obviously I have nothing against the Centre for the History of Medicine at Warwick Uni but do I want it on my shopping bag?) I thought I could given it a makeover and redo the ruffle idea.

old bag.jpg

To make your own Stripy Ruffled Tote Bag you will need:

  • A plain or unexciting shopping/tote bag

  • Scraps of fabric

  • Sewing machine

  • Thread

  • About 30 minutes

First rip the fabric into long strips each about 1.5" wide. Ripping is fine, the strips will be straight and the fraying will add to the shabby chic look.

strips of fabric.jpg

Make a straight line horizontally on your bag where you want to ruffles to start from the bottom. Pencil is fine, no one is going to see it (mine had the box round the writing so I used that as a guide and didn't need to draw a line)

Get the handles out of the way, I pined mine up so they didn't get caught in the sewing.

pin handles.jpg

Pop the bag under the sewing machine needle, right side facing, starting at a side seam. Line up with your pencil line, grab one of your strips of fabric, pop it under and do just a few stitches to hold it in place.

adding ruffles to a tote bag

Now you just pleat as you go, the photos show it best.

starting ruffle.jpg

I folded under about 1/4 inch every inch or so, you can do more or less, it's up to you. The more you fold the more strips of fabric you will need, and the more frilly the bag will end up.

When you get to the end of a strip, just pop another one under with a bit of an overlap and carry on.

adding ruffles to a shopping bag

When you get back to the beginning, just cut off any of the fabric strip remaining and get ready to join the next layer along side.

start new colour.jpg

I overlapped the strips very slightly as you can see. I kept the same thread colour, for speed and because I think it looks quite nice!

That's it, just keep going round and round as many times as you want. I stopped when all the writing was covered.

ruffle tote bag

It was completely unintentional but when it was finished I thought this bag had a bit of a "Cornishware" look to it.


I love Cornishware, so much that I have a pinterest board dedicated to it! When I was little we went to Cornwall most years on holiday and I remember visiting a pottery factory, maybe that's why.

I had a few strips of fabric left and had just seen a lovely little flower by Emily from Jones Design Company so decided to give it a go. 

rolled flower brooch

I doubled up my blue and cream fabric strips, tied a knot and just started twisting and glueing, following Emily's tutorial . This is pretty easy and fun but do be careful as glue gun glue gets REALLY hot - obvious I know, but when you are concentrating on the twisting apparently it's easy to forget!

flower back.jpg

I attached a safety pin on the back and now have a removable flower to add more shabby chic charm to my shopping experience!

cornishware effect ruffled shopping tote

The bag was a freebie, the blue fabric was from an old shirt and the cream fabric was a old duvet cover that had trim which had gone all bobbly. My lovely new bag didn't cost me anything but time and a bit of sewing thread, whoop whoop!


I'll be sharing this idea at these link ups

I love fabric projects like this one that use up little scraps. If you have lots of small pieces of fabric to use you might like some of these ideas that use them up.