confessions of a fabric obsessive

Upcycle project – skirt into shoulder bag tutorial

This skirt caught my eye at a car boot sale. It was too small to fit me, so I bought it specifically to turn into a bag. It’s bright, it’s colourful and it’s 95% cotton, how could I resist?

Here it is ironed and ready to start. I have already unpicked the top stitching from some of the vertical seams, stitched the pocket openings closed, removed the zip fly and stitched that closed too.Oh yes, I’ve also unpicked the hem to give me more length a I want this to be a tote-sized shoulder bag (or a tote with a shoulder strap).

This skirt has a natural a-line to it. I thought long and hard about what to do about this, whether to leave it as it was, maybe gather or pleat it in some way, but I settled on squaring it up. Luckily,the skirt had several vertical seams. Ignoring the two side seams and the centre front and centre back, I used the seams that were left as a reference to mark new vertical seams against. I placed my ruler parallel to my chosen seams and pinned where I wanted my new side seams to be.

I refolded the skirt so that the front and back seams where at the sides so that I could use the same original  seams and pin new front and back seams parallel with them. You can see the extra fabric used for the kick pleat.

Here is my ex-skirt with the pockets trimmed off, and the new seams sewn and trimmed. I also sewed the bottom seam of the bag before I took the photo.

I turned the skirt inside out, just to check on how it would all look (don’t worry about the crease from the original hem that I unpicked, I’m going to box the bottom corners of the bag later, so the crease will end up out of sight on the bottom of the bag).

This is now ready to use as a template to cut the bag lining. The original skirt was a bit stretchy. I’m going to use a half-inch seam allowance when I mark and cut the lining, as the lining will probably take most of the strain of carrying the bag’s contents.

The skirt came with a self-fabric belt (you noticed the belt loops, right?).  I originally intended to use the belt as a shoulder strap but it’s slightly curved and not really long enough, so I used the belt for a couple of other things.

  1. to provide a belt and buckle closure to keep the bag closed-ish at the top
  2. to cover up the not-so-successful front-of-skirt-with-zip-fly-and-buttons-to-bag conversion

I got so impatient to finish my new bag that I couldn’t wait to take photos for this tutorial.

 I boxed the bottom corners of the bag and the lining. I wanted to use a salvaged bag strap for this bag, so I sewed some 2 inch wide twill webbing into two loops with one square d-ring (can you have a square d-ring? you know what I mean)  in each loop before I inserted the lining into the bag and top-stitched around the top of the bag to finish it off.

Here’s a good tutorial on how to box a bag (do the same to the lining before you slot it in) and top-stitch the bag-straps into the gap between the lining and the bag outer by Carolyn over on My Back Yard Eden.


Happy sewing


8 responses to “Upcycle project – skirt into shoulder bag tutorial

  1. versana April 15, 2012 at 04:49

    I am a real fan of re-purposing and anytime one can get a handbag from anything, I am definitely impressed…love this bag!

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