Ombre Ruffled Tote Bag

By  Melony Miller Bradley  for  Rit Dye

Get organized when running errands and crossing off your to-do list while also looking pretty and stylish! This ruffled tote bag is fairly easy to make using an ombre-dyeing technique and Rit Liquid Dyes.

  • Ombre Ruffled Tote Bag


  • White cotton muslin, 2 yds.
  • Cotton canvas, 1 yd.
  • Dark brown grosgrain ribbon, 1-1/2 yds.
  • Natural burlap
  • Embellishments, four: acrylic rhinestones, sequined flower centers, beaded flower centers
  • Rhinestone chain, 1/2 yd.


  • Rit Liquid Dye: Evening Blue, Dark Cocoa, Apple Green, Taupe
  • Sizzix BigShot Die Cutting Machine and Dies: Beautiful Bird, Leaves
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Adhesives: Beacon Adhesives Fabri-Tac Glue; The Warm Co. Lite Steam a Seam

Basic Supplies

  • fabric pen, scissors, ruler, pencil, rotary cutter and self-healing mat, iron and pressing surface, straight pins, sewing needle and thread, plastic quart containers, measuring cup, measuring spoons, plastic spoon, rubber gloves, old towel, hanger, wire nippers
  • Size
  • 1. Size is 11"x17".
  • Tote Bag
  • 1. Use rotary cutter and mat to cut two 18"x12" rectangles from cotton canvas. Measure 3" from one edge of muslin and mark with fabric pen. Tear eight pieces measuring 3"x72" from muslin. Tear three 1"x24" pieces of fabric. Cut 6" square of muslin from remaining material. Cut 5"x7" burlap rectangle.
  • 2. Wearing rubber gloves, prepare low water immersion dye baths following manufacturer's instructions. For each mixture, measure hot water with measuring cup and dye mixtures with measuring spoons. Gently stir mixture in plastic containers using mixing spoon. Let each fabric soak for 30 seconds. Remove fabric from dye mixture and squeeze out excess dye under cool running water. Squeeze out excess water and place in layers of towels to absorb excess water. Hang to dry. When dry, use iron and pressing surface to remove wrinkles from fabric.
  • 3. For tote front and back (two 18"x12" rectangles), mix one cup hot water with two tablespoons of Dark Cocoa. For dark blue fabric strips (four 3"x72" strips and one 1"x24" fabric strip), mix one cup hot water with three tablespoons of Evening Blue. For medium blue fabric strips (two 3"x72" strips), mix one cup hot water with two tablespoons of Evening Blue. For light blue fabric strips (two 3"x72" strips), mix one cup hot water with one tablespoon of Evening Blue. For green strip and square (one 1"x24" strip and 6" square of muslin), mix one cup hot water with two teaspoons of Apple Green. For tan strip (one 1"x24" strip), mix one cup hot water with one teaspoon of Taupe. (Note: Leave one 1"x24" fabric strip un-dyed.)
  • 4. Use sewing machine and thread to sew knife pleats approximately 1/3" from one edge of 3"x72" fabric strips. Use contrasting thread such as black or another dark color.
  • 5. Follow manufacturer's instructions to fuse webbing to one side of dyed green fabric square and burlap piece using iron and pressing surface. Die cut bird from burlap and three leaves from green fabric square (for leaves and bird's wing). Fuse pieces to tote bag rectangle, referring to photo for placement. (Note: Bird applique must be fused first, followed by wing.) Use sewing machine and thread to sew edges in place, leaving raw edge of appliques.
  • 6. Use 1"x24" fabric strips to create rolled flowers for embellishments. Roll one end of strip down and continue in same manner while creating spirals at same time. Adhere flower in place every two or three rolls using fabric glue. Use glue to adhere embellishments for centers, allowing flowers and centers to dry.
  • 7. Sew tote bag back and front together, using 1/2" seam allowance. Steam seams open and turn right side out. Iron seams in place on front and back. Use fabric glue to adhere ruffles around bag, using darker to lighter strips for ombre effect. Use sewing needle and thread to sew rhinestone chain lengths on edges of bag as shown (Note: Use scissors or wire nippers to cut pieces from chain and attach chain with thread.) Cut ribbon into two 20" lengths; sew ends to inside back and front of bag using sewing needle and thread.
  • 8. Use generous amount of fabric glue to adhere rolled flower embellishments to tote as shown.
  • Tip
  • 1. For best results, heat water to approximately 140ºF.