accessoriesdiy projects

diy project: market bag makeover

by Haylie Waring

Over the past few years, I have accumulated a handful of screen-printed market bags covered in unsightly logos or sayings from retailers and small businesses. These bags offer other uses besides toting groceries, such as carrying lunch to the office or transporting books back and forth from the library.

Today’s DIY project transforms your boring tote bags into something trendy and personalized. Perfect for all ages, students and professionals alike will proudly show them off in public. This DIY also makes for a fun family project. The options are endless! Take the tutorial a step further by adding a second pocket or inside pockets for a more utilitarian bag. Embellishments aren’t necessary, but they will make the bag unique to it’s owner. Have fun making your old tote new again! — Haylie

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

Materials & Tools:

  • market bag in need of a makeover (prep by spot cleaning, washing, drying and ironing)
  • cotton fabric (approx. 1/2 yd. for 4 bags)
  • iron
  • tape measure
  • ruler
  • several sheets of 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper
  • scissors
  • straight pins
  • needle and thread
  • sewing machine
  • buttons, brooches and other embellishments


1.  Measure out the space on your bag that you want to cover with a pocket (covering screen-printed logos or stains). Be sure to add 1″ to the top of the pocket and 3/8″ to both sides and to the bottom of the pocket, then make a template. I found that an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper made the perfect pocket template for most of the market bags; for larger bags, I overlapped two sheets to make, for example, a 10″ x 11″ pocket.

2.  Iron your fabric, then pin the paper template to it and cut out the pocket.

3.  Fold over and iron down 3/8″ on both sides and the bottom of the pocket.

4. Fold over the top edge of the pocket by 1/2″ and iron, then fold it over another 1/2″ and stitch down for a hemmed edge.

5. Using straight pins, pin the pocket to the bag where desired. Be sure to only pin through one layer of your bag and if needed, measure from the edges so that the pocket is centered and squared.

6.  Using a simple straight stitch, sew down the side and bottom edges of your pocket to your bag. It may take some simple maneuvering to fit the bag under your machine foot. Remember to back-stitch at the beginning and end of your stitching for a secure pocket.

7. To create ruffles and trim from remaining fabrics, simply cut and tear strips approximately 1 1/2″ x 15″, then make a long running stitch either in the center or at the top of the strip. Leave thread strands long when you cut it free from the machine. Then tie off one end of strands and on the opposite end, while holding the bobbin thread, scrunch the fabric down toward the knotted end, creating a ruffle. To attach ruffles, simply pin them down and stitch over the original running stitch.

8.  Attach brooches, buttons and other small accessories with needle and thread to create sweet embellishments that personalize your bag.

Suggested For You


Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.