Are you a sweatshirt gal?  I am not.  I own one sweatshirt from my favorite college.  I pull it out for a chilly night around the campfire or when facing a gusty ocean breeze.  But, otherwise, I find them a bit binding on my matronly body.  The hood also annoys me. I always have to fuss with my hair to make myself comfortable.

I prefer cotton sweaters.  I wear them from spring to fall.  They are as comfy as a t-shirt, have classic style, and stretch!  My favorite is this one I purchased a number of years ago from Eddie Bauer.  It still looks as nice as the day I bought it.

My kids, on the other hand, have almost as many sweatshirts as T-shirts!  They have sweatshirts for: cities they have visited, their high school and elementary school, concerts, concert venues, and their favorite colleges.  After a time, a sweatshirt becomes neglected and is replaced by one that is more important to them.  Pretty soon it makes its way to the giveaway pile.

Inspired by the popular, shabby totes worn by the high school girls, I created a simple Sweatshirt Tote Tutorial:


  • Old sweatshirt
  • Thread
  • Stretch Needle
  • Scissors


1.  Cut off bottom band of sweatshirt.

2.  Cut off hood and sleeves as close to the seam as possible.

3.  Smooth out sweatshirt front and back.  Determine center of motif and the desired width and length of tote.

I wanted the tote to have a finished size of 14″ x 16″, so I cut the sweatshirt to 15″ x 18″.

4.  Cut and remove the sleeve band and cut sleeve open along seam.

5.  Using the sweatshirt sleeve, cut 1″ strips.  These will be used to create a strap.

6.  Place sweatshirt front and back right sides together, pin and stitch using a 1/2″ seam allowance.  I used  a serger to sew along the sides and bottoms.  You can use a regular sewing machine and use a “stretch” stitch if your machine has one.  If not, use a small zig zag stitch.

7.  Press the seams.  (Be careful not to use a hot iron near the motif.)

8.  Fold the top of the bag to the inside and press.  I pressed approximately an inch.  This was dictated by the location of the sweatshirt motif on the right side.

9.  Stitch the folded fabric near the raw edge.  I used a three-step zig zag stitch, but a regular zig zag or even straight stitch would be fine.

10.  The strap will be created by braiding three long strips.  Create the long strip by sewing together three 1″ wide strips.  Overlap the ends and use a zig zag stitch to secure.  My strips were 52″ long.

11.  Take three strips and lay the ends on top of one another.  Stitch these together using a zig zag stitch.

12.  Secure the ends under your needle and braid the long straps.  Use your creativity when you braid.  I folded the material as I braided to create a solid look.  You could use the reverse size of the sweatshirt for a fuzzier look.  My finished strap measures 42″ long.  The straps stretch a bit, so adjust it to your desired length.

13.  Secure the other end of the braid with a zig zag stitch and trim the excess fabric.  Sew the strap to the two seam sides of the tote.  I stitched the strap near the very top of the tote and then, from the outside, stitched the strap over the other stitching.

Enjoy the finished result!

See some additional styles on this post.

If you would like me to sew a custom Sweatshirt Tote for you, stop by my Etsy shop.