Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Recycled Coffee Sack Turns Into A Tote Bag

Fabric: Burlap Coffee Bean Sacks
Lining: Malachite 2 Cotton Silk from Spoonflower - 2 yds $54

I don't know if you all remember but a while back I posted about some upcoming projects and this coffee tote bag was one of them that I finished just in time for my mom for mother's day. I'm proud of how this turned out, and my mom seemed to like it as well even though the second thing she said was 'I wish it had a pocket on the inside' which I sort of knew she was going to say. I should've just sewn in a pocket, but I was short on time, and burlap is frustrating as hell to work with. I quickly realized that after I constructed the outside shell of the tote sans lining when I was trimming my seams. I looked back to make sure everything was trimmed and instead the seam had come apart. I'm wondering if maybe a zig-zag stitch would have worked better? I have more construction pictures, finished pictures, and ideas for my next tote (I have enough fabric to make one more of these) after the page break.

The backside has the 'Product of Honduras' lettering

I started by figuring out how back I wanted the tote bag to be. I figured 16 inches long by 21 inches wide was a good size and I cut out my front and back pieces accordingly. I used the entire back of the coffee sack to make strips of fabric about 2 inches wide once hemmed that I sewed together in order to have pieces long enough for straps. I also cut out 2 side pieces that were 16 inches long by 4 inches wide, and one bottom piece that was 4 inches wide and 21 inches long. I sewed the straps on to the main pieces of each side of the bag and then sewed all 5 pieces together.

After constructing the framework for my tote I just needed to line it. This lining was one of the first fabrics I ordered online, and my first from Spoonflower. It's gorgeous, but not quite as vibrant as it was in the picture online. When I cut out my pieces from the burlap sack I also cut out identical pieces in the lining. I stitched the lining pieces together the same way I constructed the outer part of the tote, but I left a little gap along one of the side seams. I then turned the lining inside out and placed the burlap part inside right side out. I stitched the lining to the burlap tote along the top, and then pulled the burlap through the gap I had left unstitched along the side seam. I flipped the lining down into the tote and voila! practically finished bag. I decided along the way that I don't really like this method of attaching lining. My problem is that the lining is only attached along the top of the bag and it just looks loose and floaty on the inside because it's not attached at any of the bottom corners. I have enough material to make a second bag and when I make that one I think I'm going to attach the lining directly to the pieces of burlap before I sew them together. In order to avoid exposed seams I'm going to try using French seams. There will still be fabric sticking out so it won't be a smooth seam but it will be nice and finished and I can always top stitch it down along the top.

In addition to changing the construction of the next tote I make, I'm also going to make the straps out of something other than the burlap from the coffee sacks. I worry that the stitching is going to fall out and they're going to just rip. I'm also going to add an outer and an inner pocket as well. Once all of the pieces were cut out it was a quick sew up.


  1. I liked the fabric on the inside it looked really nice

  2. Thanks, that website is a lot of fun because they have everything you could ever imagine and you can get it printed on whatever fabric you want.