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reuse an old purse and an ordinary tote to make your own custom designed eco purse
I got this great tote at a coca cola event I went to a couple weeks ago and I’ve been using it just about everyday as my temporary purse because my last purse just bit the bullet. I love the sturdy heavy weight canvas it’s made out of. The tote is wonderful the only thing I don’t like is that the straps are too short to wear over my shoulder and printed on the front is a bunch of Coca cola stuff. And because my old black pleather purse had great hardware I had decided to keep it to use the parts in other projects. I hate throwing stuff away, whenever I can reuse something I will. So I decided this would be a great time to mix and match the two to come up with a new personalized eco tote for myself.

I took the handles off of the old black pleather purse and also the handles off the tote and then hand sewed the pleather handles on. If you don’t have an old purse hanging around you could find one for a dollar at a used clothing store. It was super easy and fast and I just followed the holes from the pre existing stitches, I used black denim thread and hand stitched it.

For the image I used a dark t shirt iron on transfer and printed out a full A4 sized image. I came up with a fun colorful image from a photo of a model wearing one of my hats I made and put my logo on it with my brand name “Hearts of Columbus”. This worked out great, I had used these transfers before and I know the trick is to not print solid block colors because the color never prints evenly and it can become blotchy in the wash, so always when printing big images use a photo or a complicated image, nothing with large patches of one color. Also keeping it simple and just printing the full sheet out gives a current fashion look like you see on eleven paris shirts. Just take your favorite image, alter it in photoshop to make it more arty and then print the whole thing out, you’ll get a small white border from the printer and it will be easy to apply with out any finicky cutting out, and it irons on quickly.

After that I reattached the hardware or you could add new rivets, I think that would look nice, and it’s all ready to be used. It’s a great way to customize canvas totes that have designs on them that your not so crazy about or just tired of looking at. And if your a real wiz or don’t have any old purses to deconstruct you could make your own handles using left over fabric or leather strips.

Posted by Reve Maxeville from Boissy-Saint-Léger, Île-de-France, France • Published See Reve Maxeville's 6 projects »

  • How to make an embellished tote. Customized Tote - Step 1
    Step 1

    Step one-

    Take an old purse you don’t use anymore or pick one up with straps you like at a used clothing store

  • How to make an embellished tote. Customized Tote - Step 2
    Step 2

    Step two-

    Grab an old tote you like but want to redesign. Choose a tote with an image that isn’t printed any bigger than an A4 or else you will have to create a bigger image and print the pieces out seperatly and piece them together.

  • How to make an embellished tote. Customized Tote - Step 3
    Step 3

    Step three-

    Take any hardware and straps you want to use off of an old purse. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to use so I took off the hand straps and the shoulder strap to try them both out.

  • How to make an embellished tote. Customized Tote - Step 4
    Step 4

    Step four-

    My tote was a little bit used and the material was pilling, so I used a razor and shaved the surface to get rid of the fabric pills and smooth it out for the transfer so it wouldn’t look messy or bumpy.

  • How to make an embellished tote. Customized Tote - Step 5
    Step 5

    Step five-

    Print off an image you created and print it onto dark tshirt transfer paper. The dark color transfer is opaque and will hide the image underneath, normal transfer paper is transparent so you will more than likely see the design underneath your own design.

    I’ve attached the images that I designed for my tote, feel free to print them off and use it in your own creations if you like.

  • How to make an embellished tote. Customized Tote - Step 6
    Step 6

    Step six-

    Iron on your transfer to the tote on the place you want your design, follow the directions on the package of the transfer paper. If you are printing out a large image be careful not to touch the edge of the transfer with the iron. I did and the edges melted a bit, make sure to use a large piece of cotton or a piece of oven paper larger than the image.

  • How to make an embellished tote. Customized Tote - Step 7
    Step 7

    Step seven-

    Take the handles off of the tote bag, I undid the stitches and just pulled away the straps. I wouldn't recommend cutting them off because it would leave bulk that would be difficult to sew through.

  • How to make an embellished tote. Customized Tote - Step 8
    Step 8

    Step nine-

    Sew on the purse straps on the same spot that the old tote straps were. Follow the pre-existing holes in the straps and use a doubled over denim thread in a coordination color. Finally reattach the old hardware or use new rivets to finish your design and make your straps really sturdy.

  • How to make an embellished tote. Customized Tote - Step 9
    Step 9

    There you go, now it's all finished and ready to go, now you can use your new tote as an eco purse or as a very fashionable grocery bag with much more comfortable handles.

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