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How to Turn Old Sheets into Shopping Totes

Recycle your old bed sheets into functional and fashionable shopping totes.


  • Step 1: Make pattern Make a pattern for the tote on the paper and measure two 9- by 3-inch patterns for the handles. Then cut out the patterns with the scissors.
  • TIP: Try using pillowcases. Since the sides are already sewn together, it’s half the work.
  • Step 2: Fold sheet in half, place pattern, and pin Fold the sheet in half on the cutting mat, and place the tote and handle patterns on the sheet with the pattern's bottom edge at the sheet's fold. Pin the pattern to the sheet.
  • Step 3: Cut tote bag and handles Cut your tote bag and handles from the sheet using the pattern edges as a guide. Do not cut the fold. Remove the paper patterns and re-pin the bag pieces with the right sides together.
  • Step 4: Sew seams of tote, open, and iron Sew ½-inch seams on each side of the tote. Do not sew the folded edge. Then open the seams and iron them flat.
  • Step 5: Fold and iron top to make hem Fold the top over 3/8 of an inch and iron. Then fold the top over ½ inch and iron again. Sew along the top edge, close to the edge of the hem.
  • TIP: If your iron has a steam function, add distilled water and iron with steam for a sharper edge.
  • Step 6: Fold and iron handles Open each handle at the fold and lay it flat. Fold ¼-inch of each side of both handles, and then iron. Then fold the sides another ¼-inch and iron again.
  • Step 7: Hem handles Hem the edges of each handle and turn the bag right side out.
  • Step 8: Pin and sew handles Pin and sew the handles to the bag using the tote's top edge as a guide and making a ½-inch seam.
  • FACT: Did you know? Celebrity chef Paula Deen started her career as "The Bag Lady," delivering bag lunches to customers in Savannah, Georgia.

You Will Need

  • A large sheet of paper
  • A pen
  • A measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • A sheet
  • A cutting mat
  • Sewing pins
  • A needle and thread sewing machine
  • An iron and ironing board
  • A sewing machine (optional)
  • Pillowcases (optional)
  • Distilled water (optional)

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