Napkin Tote Bag – Easy DIY Directions for Beginners

My mom is a thrift store junkie – you need something and dont want to pay retail?  Tell my mom and she’ll find it at a thrift store for a fraction of the price.  It might take her a few months, but she’ll find it – or something that will work.

I was at her house last week and she handed me 3 striped cotton napkins and said, “Make me a tote bag for my trip to Branson in May.”  Ummmmm ok….. I’ve stated before I am NOT very good at sewing – and my patience is a bit lacking – so this actually scared me a bit.

First I had to get over the  fact that I didnt have enough fabric to line the stripes up – it was just going to be imperfect.  Then she said, “oh – and I want box corners in it.”  Um…box corners?  What the heck are those?  We had a discussion with some pinning and “pretend sewing” while she told me how to sew them – and I went home.

Luckily – it worked just the way she explained it.

The nice thing about starting with napkins is you dont have to worry about frayed edges, you put right sides in, sew around 3 sides and “voila” you have a bag.  I actually folded the top over a bit and added a button an button hole so she can close the bag if she wants.  The third napkin is going to be a little bag to put inside the large bag – that will be a different post.

Here are the materials:

  • 2 napkins of same size
  • metal grommets and tool to install them
  • cording for shoulder strap
  • white thread
  • button (optional)

Here’s how I SHOULD HAVE put it together – I mixed up a few steps since I didnt have a pattern.  You’ll notice in the pics I didnt sew across the top – and i put the grommets in AFTER I made the bag

  1. Fold the top of the napkin down from the top about 2 to 2.5 inches
  2. Sew across the top to create a thick seam
  3. Figure out where you want your button hole, likely in the center, and make your button hole in one side.  Pay attention to right and wrong sides.
  4. Put your grommets in both tops – measure in from the sides your desired distance on each piece and trace the inside of the grommet eyelet – cut that circle out and follow the directions on your grommet tool.  then sew your button on
  5. Put the right sides in and pin around 3 sides.
  6. Sew around the 3 sides and remove your pins.
  7. In the bottom corners – flatten your seams and measure in about 2.5 inches from the corner and mark or pin the spot.  Sew STRAIGHT ACROSS the corner so you hit that 2.5 inches straight on.  This will create your box corner.
  8. Fold the flaps in your box corner in and tack them down so they dont flop around inside the bag.
  9. Measure your cord and add shoulder straps.