1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Maiden Jane: From Sweatshirt to Sweet Tote - a Tutorial

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

From Sweatshirt to Sweet Tote - a Tutorial

Are you a sweatshirt gal?  I am not.  I own one sweatshirt from my favorite college.  I pull it out for a chilly night around the campfire or when facing a gusty ocean breeze.  But, otherwise, I find them a bit binding on my matronly body.  The hood also annoys me. I always have to fuss with my hair to make myself comfortable.

I prefer cotton sweaters.  I wear them from spring to fall.  They are as comfy as a t-shirt, have classic style, and stretch!  My favorite is this one I purchased a number of years ago from Eddie Bauer.  It still looks as nice as the day I bought it.

My kids, on the other hand, have almost as many sweatshirts as T-shirts!  They have sweatshirts for: cities they have visited, their high school and elementary school, concerts, concert venues, and their favorite colleges.  After a time, a sweatshirt becomes neglected and is replaced by one that is more important to them.  Pretty soon it makes its way to the giveaway pile.

Inspired by the popular, shabby totes worn by the high school girls, I created a simple Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial:

  • Old sweatshirt
  • Thread
  • Stretch Needle
  • Scissors

 1.  Cut off bottom band of sweatshirt.

2.  Cut off hood and sleeves as close to the seam as possible.

3.  Smooth out sweatshirt front and back.  Determine center of motif and the desired width and length of tote.

I wanted the tote to have a finished size of 14" x 16", so I cut the sweatshirt to 15" x 18".

4.  Cut and remove the sleeve band and cut sleeve open along seam.

5.  Using the sweatshirt sleeve, cut 1" strips.  These will be used to create a strap.

6.  Place sweatshirt front and back right sides together, pin and stitch using a 1/2" seam allowance.  I used  a serger to sew along the sides and bottoms.  You can use a regular sewing machine and use a "stretch" stitch if your machine has one.  If not, use a small zig zag stitch.

7.  Press the seams.  (Be careful not to use a hot iron near the motif.)

8.  Fold the top of the bag to the inside and press.  I pressed approximately an inch.  This was dictated by the location of the sweatshirt motif on the right side.

9.  Stitch the folded fabric near the raw edge.  I used a three-step zig zag stitch, but a regular zig zag or even straight stitch would be fine.

10.  The strap will be created by braiding three long strips.  Create the long strip by sewing together three 1" wide strips.  Overlap the ends and use a zig zag stitch to secure.  My strips were 52" long.

11.  Take three strips and lay the ends on top of one another.  Stitch these together using a zig zag stitch.

12.  Secure the ends under your needle and braid the long straps.  Use your creativity when you braid.  I folded the material as I braided to create a solid look.  You could use the reverse size of the sweatshirt for a fuzzier look.  My finished strap measures 42" long.  The straps stretch a bit, so adjust it to your desired length.

13.  Secure the other end of the braid with a zig zag stitch and trim the excess fabric.  Sew the strap to the two seam sides of the tote.  I stitched the strap near the very top of the tote and then, from the outside, stitched the strap over the other stitching.

Enjoy the finished result!

See some additional styles on this post.

If you would like me to sew a custom Sweatshirt Tote for you, stop by my Etsy shop.


  1. Your sweatshirt totes look so good! Original and stylish. I like to wear non-hoodie type sweatshirts that are a couple sizes too big. Like you, I find the hoodie-type far too binding.

  2. this is fabulous! i love hoodies, but i might love your totes even more! this will be in my week in review on saturday for sure! :)

  3. These are ace! Thanks for the tute x

  4. What a great idea, and the pictures in this tutorial are great. It's going on my Sew-somday list!

  5. Great idea, Jane. Recycling and smart looking. Just adorable. You are so creative! Also, I agree, fabulous images and clear directions. Your blog is amazing.

  6. I love this and will be trying it soon!

  7. This is absolutely fantastic!! I have a few sweatshirts that have wear on cuffs and this would be a perfect project!

  8. Great tutorial! This is a super idea for something to make from hoodies. Your tutorial is excellent and the photos are very instructional.

    Thanks for all the time and effort it took you to document the process of making one of these bags. I know how much work it is to stop every few minutes, take photos, see if the photos are any good, re-take photos, do the next step, take photos, etc.

    And thanks for stopping by my blog!

  9. brilliant. i love the braided straps

  10. Ohhh! I LOVE these! Great tutorial, I'm definitely gonna try to make one. I have a serious over abundance of college sweatshirts. For some reason I thought I needed like 50, for tailgating and camping and what-not in college. But now that I'm older, I'm more for comfort, I'm with ya on the sweater!

  11. love the bag! I've been living under a rock called school lately. Do you know what happened to the french picnic site??

  12. I love it! Great tutorial, now I have to go buy a sweater to make this pretty tote bag, or check my husband's closet hehe

  13. Love it! I think this would be a good bag for kids to use when heading off to soccer or swim team too! Using an old team sweatshirt! Thanks for the how to!

  14. This is an awesome idea, i just made one and it took less than a half an hour!

  15. The pocket idea was brilliant. Brilliant.

  16. Fabulous refashioning and a great tutorial! Love the braiding for the strap!

  17. What a great idea! I hardly wear sweatshirts any more, but I have quite a few from my college days I just seem to refuse to part with. I may have to turn one into this bag because I always need little tote bags. Thanks for your wonderful tutorial.

  18. Great idea,and creative post.
    thanks for sharing this.

  19. I love your toto bag! Especially because I also went to Lake Catholic!

  20. Love the braided straps. I can use my boyfriends old sweat shirts....shhhhh!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...