We spend so much time and thoughtfulness wrapping up our gifts with pretty paper and ribbon, but when it’s time to transport them to the holiday gathering, they’re often thrown in a lackluster utilitarian tote, like a plastic bag (gasp!). I’ve been there one too many Christmases, so this year I’ve made an oversized tote to get my gifts where they’re going in style. It’s made from a small, flat woven rug, and it hand-sews up in about an hour. Make one for yourself and one as a gift this year — the style gods will thank you!
- 24-inch x 36-inch flat woven rug (Choose a rug that doesn’t have a backing. Unlined rugs are easiest to manipulate and allow for the bag to be just as pretty on the inside as the outside!)
- Pre-made handbag handles (available at most fabric stores)
- Heavy quilting thread
- Sewing needle
Start by folding your rug in half with the “right” sides of the rug facing inward toward each other.
Thread the needle with coordinating thread and tie the loose ends together with a double knot. Create a strong stitch base for your side seam by cinching the bottom right corner of the bag together with several overlapping whip stitches as shown above (about 10 whip stitches total).
Sew the sides of the bag together with a simple straight stitch, by pushing the needle down through the top of the fabric and then back up through the bottom of the fabric. Leave roughly 1/2-inch seam allowance (the seam should be about 1/2 inch in from the edge). Stitches should be no more than 1/8 inch apart. It’s helpful to follow the weave structure of the rug to help create uniform stitches and a straight seam overall.
Finish off the top edge of the side seam in a similar fashion to the way you began the side seam at the bottom (in Step 2.) Create several overlapping whip stitches (about 10).
For the final whip stitch, create another loop as you did in Step 4, only this time, don’t pull the loop tight just yet. Thread the needle through the loop and pull tight. Finish with a double knot.
Repeat Steps 2-5 for the opposite side of the bag.
Turn the bag right side out and push out the side seams to form square corners.
Attach the pre-made handles to the side of the bag with needle and thread. Repeat on the opposite side of the bag with the second set of handles.