Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote

I am excited to kickoff the 2015 Crafty Football Blog Hop!


For this year’s tutorial, I was inspired by my husband. Whenever we go on trips, he packs his briefcase to overflowing to have some “reading material”. Of course, he never looks at any of it. Recently  he has downsized the amount of reading material he brings and uses my library tote. That’s when I thought he needed a “guy” tote. Here, in Cleveland, we have no shortage of old Browns’ gear. We have an especially storied history of quarterback jerseys. (You have to see this photo or read this article for a more in-depth look at our QBs since 1999.) Who said Cleveland is no longer a manufacturing town? We have the “Factory of Sadness!” And we seem to always have a quarterback controversy….what do YOU think? Should Johnny Manziel be our starting QB?

Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote bag

Pushing all Cleveland woes aside, I grabbed an old Browns sweatshirt given to me by my sis-in-law and used it as the basis for my tote bag design. I added some brown(ish) cotton fabric for lining, some licensed Browns’ fabric for a pocket, brown webbing for straps and had a tote bag. Oh, and I added my new favorite interfacing: ByAnnie.com’s Soft and Stable. I love how this adds stability to the bag while not adding a lot of weight to it. Finished size: 14″ x 14″ x 6″

Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial #sewing #diy @maidenjane


    • old sweatshirt
    • lining fabric
    • licensed fabric (optional)
    • webbing
    • foam interfacing: ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable, Pellon Flex Foam FF77 (note, Pellon FF77 is only 20″ wide, you can downsize this pattern)

Note: 1/2 seam allowance used throughout

Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial #sewing #diy @maidenjane

Cut the Sweatshirt First, cut off the waistband so that you can smooth out the fabric.

Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial #sewing #diy @maidenjane

You now have straightened out the front and back sides of the sweatshirt.

Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial #sewing #diy @maidenjane

Draw a horizontal line just below the neckline ribbing.

Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial #sewing #diy @maidenjane

Determine the center point of the motif and mark.

Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial #sewing #diy @maidenjane

Mark the spot 10.5″ to the right and left of the center point so that you have a line 21″ across, centered on the motif.

Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial #sewing #diy @maidenjane

Draw lines on either side and across the bottom to create a 21″ W x 18.5″ H rectangle. You may need to modify these dimensions based on your motif and sweatshirt size.

Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial #sewing #diy @maidenjane Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial #sewing #diy @maidenjane Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial #sewing #diy @maidenjane

Cut out the sweatshirt so that you have a 21″ W x 18.5″ H rectangle.

Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial #sewing #diy @maidenjane

Cut Lining If you have enough fabric, fold your lining fabric along the bottom and cut to a size of 21″ W x 18″ H (you don’t need a seam allowance due to the fold.)

Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial #sewing #diy @maidenjane

Or, you can be lazy and lay your cut sweatshirt on your fabric so that it extends 1/2″ below the fold and cut out the fabric.

Sew Outer Bag With right sides facing, pin and sew the lower edge of the bag together.

Press seam allowance open.


Lay out the stabilizer foam and place the wrong side of the sweatshirt against it. Trim the foam to the same size as the sweatshirt.


A few notes on the foam stabilizer:

    • If you are using the Pellon, it only is 20″ wide, so you will have to make a slightly smaller bag.
    • There is a fusible foam available online. You can use a fusible web, also.
    • In this case, I did not use any fusible. I simply sewed it in. The foam compresses easily so that it is not difficult to sew. The seams can get a bit bulky. So if you want to minimize those, you would want to choose a fusible.

You could baste the sweatshirt to the foam, but I didn’t bother to do that. I simply folded the sweatshirt with the foam behind it, so that they were right sides together and pinned both sides, leaving the top open.

22-IMG_0177 23-IMG_0178

Sew the two sides seams. To create a boxed bottom, place the bag on my ironing board with the seam facing up.


Grab the end so that the seam is centered in your hands.


Measure 6″ across this triangle and mark.

26-IMG_0181 27-IMG_0182

Stitch across this line and repeat on the other side. Your bag should look like this.


I typically trim the excess off, but you can leave it if you feel it gives your bag more stability.


Turn the bag inside out. You can baste along the top edge if desired.


Sew Pocket Cut two pieces of fabric 6.5″ x 12″ (or any size you wish.) You can interface the fabric for strength, if desired.


With right sides facing, sew around the edges of the rectangle and leave a 4″ – 5″ opening along the bottom.


Turn inside out and press.


Place the pocket 5″ below the opening and centered, horizontally, on the lining fabric. Pin and stitch, closing the bottom opening.


Add an additional line of stitching on the pocket to create compartments of various sizes.


Sew Lining Repeat the steps for sewing the outer bag using the lining. However, on one of the side seams, leave a 6″ opening in the seam for turning the bag inside out.


Sew the outer bag to the lining. Place the outer bag inside the lining, right sides facing.


Pin the lining to the bag around the top. (Wonder clips work really well and I used them later!)

44-IMG_0200 45-IMG_0201

Sew around the top.


Turn inside out using the open side seam.


Stitch the opening closed. Push the lining inside and press around the top edge.


Pin or clip the top edge and top stitch.

49-IMG_0205 Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote #diy #football @maidenjane

Add Straps Cut two straps, each 28″ long. (If you don’t have webbing, use the extra sweatshirt fabric from the sleeves.)


Cut two 1.5″ squares out of extra sweatshirt fabric.


Place the webbing 5″ from the side seams and cover with one of the squares. I put the fuzzy side facing out for some interest. Pin.


Stitch around the square and in an “X” shape to secure the webbing beneath.


This is how your tote looks now. If you like this, stop here!

Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote #diy #football @maidenjane

If you want to add a bit more structure or simply some design detailing, you can top stitch the four sides and front and back bottoms. Starting at the bottom, I fold the fabric and pin or clip. Topstitch.

58-IMG_0216 Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote #diy #football @maidenjane

Do the same thing along the bottom.

60-IMG_0218 61-IMG_0219

You now have a finished tote that is “made for a man, but strong enough for a woman.” (For some reason, I have that old Secret slogan stuck in my head – well, reversed in my head.)

Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote #diy #football @maidenjane Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote #diy #football @maidenjane Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote #diy #football @maidenjane Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote #diy #football @maidenjane Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote #diy #football @maidenjane Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote #diy #football @maidenjane Upcycled Sweatshirt Tote #diy #football @maidenjane

Be sure to stop by the 2015 Crafty Football Blog Hop or stop back here to watch the Linky for new ideas. You can also check out all of my tutorials here. A few that are related to football include: