Denim & Shoulder Pad Tote

By  Mary Ayres 

size: 14"x14"

  • Denim & Shoulder Pad Tote


  • Recycled items: denim jeans; white cotton shoulder pads, two
  • Black lightweight cotton fabric, 1/2 yd.
  • Assorted vintage scraps/embellishments (for pockets): textiles; laces; ribbons; buttons
  • Buttons, 7/8”, two
  • Embroidery floss in shades of pink, purple, and blue
  • Black perle cotton, #8


  • Embroidery needle
  • Fabri-Tac Permanent Adhesive (Beacon Adhesives)
  • Sewing machine and black thread
  • Tea bags
  • Iron and pressing board

Pattern - Fig. 1

  • 1. Note: Sew all seams with right sides together, using a 1/4" seam allowance, pinning and pressing as needed.
  • 2. Cut (23) 5-1/2" squares from denim. (Note: Squares on sample bag were cut from legs with seam centered in each square.)
  • 3. Use Fig. 1 as guide to sew squares together in horizontal rows. Rows are numbered 1 through 7. First row has one block, second row has three blocks, third row has five blocks, etc. Sew horizontal rows together, following Fig. 1.
  • 4. Cut assembled squares, following dashed lines on Fig. 1 to make rectangle shape for bag. For lining, cut same-size rectangle from black fabric.
  • 5. For pockets, tea dye shoulder pads. Dry in dryer. Lay textiles, ribbon and lace over shoulder pads as desired. Trim pieces 1/2" beyond shoulder pads. Fold ends of pieces over pads and glue to back. Sew edges of pieces to front of pockets or embroider desired stitches over edges to secure them to pads. Sew buttons to pads.
  • 6. Use one strand of perle cotton to blanket stitch across straight edges of pads (top of pockets). Fold denim rectangle in half with right side facing out. Pin pockets center vertically on front side of rectangle. Blanket stitch along side and bottom edges of pocket in same way as before to secure pockets to bag.
  • 7. Fold bag in half with right side facing in. Sew 1/4" from side seams. Fold black lining rectangle in half and sew in same way as denim rectangle, leaving 5" opening along one side for turning. Sew lining to denim rectangle around top edge, lining up side seams. Turn bag right side out through opening. Sew opening closed.
  • 8. For handle, cut 4-1/2"x28" strip from denim. Press short ends 1/4" toward wrong side. Press strip in half lengthwise with right side facing out. Open up strip and press long raw edges in toward center. Press in half lengthwise again, encasing all raw edges. Sew close to pressed edges.
  • 9. Use perle cotton to sew 7/8" buttons securely to handle ends at top sides of bag.