Design a bag out of a skirt – Tutorial

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.


Upcycled bag tutorial – convert a cord skirt into ladies shoulder bag, complete with appliquéd butterfly design Upcycled bag tutorial

You may remember I showed you this recycled eco bag as one I made for an Etsy team challenge. Today I have decided to share instructions so you can make your own:)

Let’s start at the beginning with the skirt, which measures 44cm waist by 57cm long. It is designed with a lace finish at the bottom of the skirt, with pleats.


I am aiming to complete the bag from the skirt, with a second fabric for lining, in this case using a former cotton duvet cover.

After some thought, I have decided to keep the lace at the bottom, and the pleat which I love. I did debate turning the skirt upside down and having the lace at the top, I decided against this as the lace did not line up neatly if I recreated the pleat at the bottom.

Up-cycling skirt to bag


Remove the waistband and zip, and retain both for reuse when making the bag.

Measure the skirt to work out the options for dimensions. I prefer shoulder straps which are at least 52cm long and 4cm wide, plus seam allowance… my skirt is only 50cm.


Decide on measurements. In this case I have measured in 9cm from the top of the skirt and cut down to enable four strips of fabric 9cm wide to create the straps. I will join two pieces together to create long enough straps. If the skirt is longer you will only need two pieces of fabric 9cm wide.



Create the shoulder straps. Cut your fabric .If necessary join the pieces to together to create two pieces of fabric 55cm by 9cm. Iron on interfacing 53cm by 8cm to each piece: this will strengthen the straps.


Fold the fabric in half and fold in the seams (1cm seam allowance).


Stitch both sides of the straps, to add strength.

Cut the remaining fabric into two equal sized pieces of fabric, remembering to allow seam allowance, to create the body of your bag. I cut off some of the depth from the top of main body of the skirt to create two pieces of fabric.


Add any decoration you wish. I have added an appliquéd butterfly. Firstly I researched appliqué images on line, and then sketched out a design. I then traced this onto the paper side of bondaweb. Then I ironed the bondaweb onto appliqué fabric, and cut out desired shape, placed onto bag, and ironed on. I used a tight zigzag stitch stitch around all raw edges.





Sew up the three seams, right side together, leaving the fourth seam along the top open, creating the main body of the bag. Finish the seams as you like (I suggest a zigzag stitch on the raw edges).


Cut fabric the same size as the bag fabric, allowing a seam allowance. Due to the pleat in the bag I have cut my fabric to the width at the top, and width at the bottom, so that I do not have pleats and pockets on the lining to contend with.


If you would like internal pockets create them now. In this bag I have included a simple pocket. Hem a piece of fabric to the size of required pocket. Place on the fabric (I always measure to ensure it is in the middle of the bag and parallel to the top of the bag). Sew around the three pocket sides, with the fourth seam left open as the opening to the pocket at the top.

Joining all parts of the bag together:

Measure the waistband to fit the main body of the bag.


Insert magnetic clasp into the middle of each side of the waistband


Measuring from the centre unpick part of the waistband seam to insert the strap. I unpick 5cm of the waistband per strap equa distance from the magnetic clasp. On this bag the straps have 18cm between them (the clasp in the middle at 9cm)


Place the lining inside the bag, wrong sides together. Pin and tack the lining and the body of the bag along the top.


Tack the right side of the waistband onto the top of the bag, right sides together.


Sew the waist band on


Stitch the two sides of the waistband together.


Finally stitch the other side of the waistband on the inside of the bag, tucking the seam allowance into the waistband. I always tack this first too 🙂

Brilliant and congratulations one finished upcycled bag 🙂


As usual I have linked in with Handmade Monday, please do pop by and see what other people have been making:)



  1. May 12, 2013 / 6:24 pm

    I so admire you with this. I always look forward to seeing what amazing creation you will come up with next. 🙂

  2. May 12, 2013 / 6:51 pm

    Very clever, it looks quite complicated to do! (Patchwork Fairy)

  3. May 12, 2013 / 6:54 pm

    What a great bag, and a great tutorial. Thanks for sharing x

  4. May 12, 2013 / 7:40 pm

    What a brilliant way of transforming a skirt. You’d have never guessed what the bag was in it’s previous life. Great tutorial xx

  5. May 12, 2013 / 8:11 pm

    Fab tutorial, thank you. It’s lovely to get an insight into how other people create their amazing things. xx

    • May 15, 2013 / 6:30 am

      I love seeing what people make on the internet, so many inspiring items made 🙂

  6. May 13, 2013 / 5:46 am

    This is wonderful, am keeping on the backburner! Alsp pinned it under Clever Repurposing 🙂

  7. May 13, 2013 / 12:16 pm

    Great idea, and a lovely finished bag 🙂

  8. May 13, 2013 / 1:23 pm

    What a fab tutorial I so need to get a sewing machine!

  9. May 13, 2013 / 5:15 pm

    What a great idea. Now I have another thing to scour Savers’ for- neat skirts. The best part is that if they’re made out of washable skirts they can be used for grocery bags and machine washed periodically.

    • May 15, 2013 / 6:29 am

      I LOVE the fact I can machine wash a lot of the bags I make.. with young toddlers split drinks & snacks in my bags is a regular occurrence!!

  10. May 14, 2013 / 7:17 am

    What a well written tutorial. I too, like to reuse my charity shop finds. I especially like how you’ve kept the pleat from the skirt in the bag.

    • May 15, 2013 / 6:28 am

      Cheers.. I like the pleat too:) Must start designing them into bags:)

  11. scrollwork
    May 15, 2013 / 4:08 am

    I’ve had a floral skirt for nearly forever which I bought from a thrift shop becauseI wanted to make a bag out of it. Your tutorial makes the project seem less intimidating. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

    Stopping by from Upcyclers Linky Party.

  12. May 15, 2013 / 5:19 pm

    It looks great! It seems like a pretty simple upcycle! I don’t think I have any skirts cute or strong enough to upcycle. I’ll have to check the thrift store!
    Thanks for linking up!

  13. May 17, 2013 / 4:22 am

    I’d like to congratulate you on winning the “Super Sweet Blogging Award” ❤ To receive this award, simply copy & paste my post – , follow the rules, and spread some sweetness of your own! Thanks for being so fabulous! ^_^

  14. Robert Nelson
    June 3, 2013 / 4:06 pm

    I loved this piece. Thanks for posting to Green Living Thursdays on Dude, Sustainable!

    PS. Are you a member of Hometalk? It’s a social community for Home and Garden DIY, and they love pieces like this! Shared your post on Stumbleupon!

  15. Cindi
    September 26, 2013 / 11:10 pm

    I have a couple of skirts I have kept from high school (we will NOT say how long ago!). Never thought of making bags out of them. Cool!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge