You can create a small tote bag for just a couple of dollars with a cloth placemat and grosgrain ribbon. You can use a sewing machine or hand-stitch the placemat. This is a small project and won’t take much time, even if you sew it by hand.
Ask around for placemats in good condition that no one is using. You can also look at stores for new placemats. You can use any type of mat that will fold neatly in half – use cloth instead of vinyl placemats. You’re limited only by the colors and patterns that you can find.
Materials for Sewing a Simple Purse
● 1-1/2” Grosgrain ribbon
Directions for Sewing an Easy Tote
- Fold the placemat in half.
- Make your stitches a quarter-inch in from the edge of the fabric. Sew up one side and then sew back down the same side to reinforce your stitching. If you are sewing by hand, keep your stitches approximately one-quarter inch apart so the sides are sturdy.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Decide how long you want the handle. Unroll the grosgrain ribbon and set it near the top of the tote as if it were handles. Cut the ribbon at least four inches longer than you want. Cut a second piece.
- If you want where the ribbon attaches to the placemat to be hidden inside the bag, leave the bag as is. If you want to show off the ribbon, turn the bag inside out.
- Pin the ribbon in place. You want to overlap two inches of ribbon over the fabric so the handles will be secure. Set the ribbon approximately three inches in from each side. After you’ve pinned a ribbon to the front of the bag and the other ribbon to the back, pick up the tote and decide if you like the placement of the ribbons.
- Sew the ribbons to the placemat. Make your stitching in a rectangle, following the shape of the ribbon overlapping the placemat. Add more stitches in an “x” so you connect the corners.
- Turn the bag inside out (or outside in, depending on whether or not you want the ribbon to show).
Optional – Sew a snap or two on the inside of the tote to keep it shut.
Your purse will show off the color and texture of the placemat you’ve used. Most placemats are sturdy enough to create a hardwearing tote. You’ll find a lot of color and pattern options, so you can make several of these purses to match different outfits.