Tote Bag Upcycle with Floral Upholstery Fabric

It’s easy to use scraps of floral upholstery fabric to transform a plain old tote bag.

It’s time for another Sustainable Pinterest Challenge when I’m joined by a group of talented creative bloggers who share an idea inspired by something they pinned on Pinterest. We all have an interest in crafts and creating that is sustainable - something with an upcycled, recycled or eco friendly element, we like to challenge ourselves to demonstrate that crafts are not always about buying everything new. This month our theme is Floral.

I found several small pieces of floral upholstery fabric in my stash, they are all old sample pieces so not very big but quite pretty and perfect for a formal theme. I also found a long thin black canvas tote bag in the bottom of my wardrobe which a friend gave me a while ago. I lucky to have lovely friends who often give me things they think I might be able to “do something" with”. I have a Pinterest board where I collect bag ideas, mostly tutorial and pattern to make bags but somethings just designs and styles I like. I’ve saved several recently with bold flowers on a dark background so thought maybe I could combine my long thin tote bag with the upholstery fabric samples.

First thing I did was to shorten the bag it little. I’ve no idea why it was so long and thin to start with. I put a regular sized magazine on it just to show you how very long it was! I just turned it inside out and stitched across the bottom about 3 inches up and then zig-zaged the seam allowance to neaten it.

Now the bag had more sensible proportions I set about creating some floral embellishments with my upholstery fabric scraps. I’ve found some similar black bags on Amazon here if you don’t happen to have one in your stash like me!

Some of these woven upholstery fabric fray like mad when you cut them so to prevent any fraying issues I used Fray Stop. I applied the Fray Stop all over the back of each motif going outside the lines of the motif onto the background fabric too. I left it to dry overnight and then was able to cut all the flowers and leaves etc out with no fraying. This Fray Stop stuff is supposed to be washable although I must confess that I’ve never tried to wash anything I’ve used it on. I’ll be totally honest here, it seems a lot like PVA glue so I think you could probably try substituting a PVA glue or Mod Podge without too many issues. Try it on a scrap of fabric first and see how you go.

Flowers cut from old fashioned upholstery fabric

Once I had a nice little pile of flowers and leaves to experiment with I just played around arranging them on my bag until I was happy with the design.

Because I was using a pre-made bag I kept the embellishments towards the top of the bag. I figured it could get awkward to sew the patches onto the bag if they were too close to the bottom and I didn’t want to have to undo the side seams or disassemble the bag in any way, kind of defeats the idea of using a premade bag if you do that right?

Then I just stitched a simple zig zag stitch around the edge of each of the patches to secure them in place.

Pretty but not quite finished in my mind, I felt I wanted to add a little more. I had a whole pile of flowers I’d cut out so I took a second one and layered it onto my main flower.

I found a load of seed beads in my stash, so used a strong cotton thread to sew the beads onto the flower centre, securing the additional layer at the same time.

The top layer flower flaps round the edge, it’s only held in place in the centre by the beads. Whilst my beads were out I added a few red beads to the butterfly body too.

I added a large flower to the other side, just keeping that side fairly simple but not completely plain. I have a bit of a thing about the back not being plain. I don’t like clothes that just have decoration on the front, I always feel a bit cheated when it’s like that - silly I know!

That’s it! All done! Some simple applique to give a plain bag a new look and to use some upholstery fabric samples from my stash.

Now let’s check out the floral themed projects from the other creative bloggers joining me this month for the Sustainable Pinterest Challenge.