Patchwork Appliqué Tote

By  Holly Daniels 

size: 14" square (excluding handles)


  • Repurposed clothing: plaid shirts, denim skirt or pants
  • Fabrics: wool fabric, scrap; muslin, 1/2 yd.; lining of choice, 1/2 yd.
  • Thin polyester batting
  • Decorative buttons, 1” to 1-1/2”, four


  • Self-healing cutting mat
  • Sewing machine, needle, and matching threads
  • The Warm Co. Steam-A-Seam 2

Basic Supplies

  • rotary cutter, scissors, straight pins, ruler, iron and pressing surface, pressing cloth

Pattern - Patchwork Appliqué Tote

  • 1. Cut two 8-1/2"x14-1/2" panels from denim. Cut from plaid shirts: four 4-1/2"x3-1/2" rectangles, eight 3-1/2"x3-1/2" squares, and eight 2-1/2"x3-1/2" rectangles. Sew plaids together as shown in diagram; press seams to one side. Sew two plaid panels to one denim panel. See Figure 1; repeat with second denim panel.

    Fig. 1
  • 2. Print out patterns. Trace two of each pattern onto paper side of fusible adhesive. Cut shapes out, leaving 1/4" around traced line. Following manufacturer's instructions, iron cut shapes onto back side of chosen flower fabrics. Cut out shapes on traced line. Layer flower pieces in order on one denim panel, using photo as guide; press to adhere. Machine-sew 1/8" from appliqué edges with straight stitch or narrow zig-zag stitch in coordinating thread. Repeat on second denim panel. (Note: Appliqué edges will eventually begin to fray a bit.)
  • 3. Cut four 14-1/2"x2-1/2" panels from denim; sew one strip to each side of pieced panels. Cut two 16-1/2"x2-1/2" panels; sew one strip to bottom of each pieced panel. See Figure 2.

    Fig. 2
  • 4. Layer one denim/plaid panel, batting, and muslin; pin to secure. Quilt lightly between plaid pieces and around denim. Repeat with second panel.
  • 5. Cut two 16-1/2"x18-1/2" panels of lining fabric. Sew one panel to top edge of each quilted piece. Press seams toward lining. See Figure 3.

    Fig. 3
  • 6. Layer tote front with lining and tote back with lining, right sides together. Sew around all edges with 1/4" seam allowance. Leave 6" opening in lining. See Figure 4.

    Fig. 4
  • 7. Find points marked by arrows. See Figure 5. Fold points toward each other, creating triangle and draw line across triangle. Sew across line. See Figure 6. Turn bag right side out to ensure bottom corners are squared off. Repeat on opposite bottom corner. Trim away excess fabric.

    Fig. 5

    Fig. 6
  • 8. Turn bag right side out. Hand- or machine-sew opening in lining closed. Fold lining into bag at top, leaving 1/4" of lining visible. Stitch in the ditch around top of bag to secure lining.
  • 9. For handles, cut two 3"x18" denim strips. Fold lengthwise with right sides together. Sew 1/4" from raw edge; turn right side out. See Figure 7. Press, centering seam down back of handle; trim to 16" long. Tuck 1/4" of raw edge inside handle; press. Topstitch 1/8" from all edges of handle. Repeat with second handle.

    Fig. 7
  • 10. Pin handles to front of bag. Sew handles to bag over topstitching. Hand-sew buttons to handles.
  • Tip
  • 1. This is a great way to recycle favorite old denim jeans or skirts and plaid shirts. You can also use leftover fabric scraps instead of the muslin, since it will not show.