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Who doesn’t love after-holiday clearance sales?  It’s exciting to see any original price get reduced to 50% off, then 70-75% off and finally, if there is still stock left, the AMAZING 90% off!  Sometimes I go shopping alone, but I always have the most fun when I enlist a sales buddy to help treasure hunt.  Two sets of eyes are better – and we spur each other on!  We challenge each other to find a use for that special unusual item at a price too good to pass up.  This time I found something I knew I could transform into something useful.  I could upcycle placemats into a clutch or shoulder bag!

Upcycle placemats into great totebags and clutch bags

At Christmas Tree Shop I found a large bin of woven Christmas placemats at 75% off.  They were reduced to just 25 cents each!  My fellow shopper and craft addict, Cynthia, said that with a fold and a simple seam she had made totebags last year.  So I grabbed a huge bunch and attempted to devise a system right there in the aisle!  These placemats are 12″x 18″ but any size, shape or material (even plastic) would work just as well.

How to Upcycle Placemats to Make a Useful Clutch or Shoulder Bag

upcycle placemats sewing tips

Most placemats have a rectangle shape, but you could also try this with round or oval shapes as well.  The first step is to fold them!  I turned my placemat sideways.  I folded it over 2/3rds to make a nice deep pocket, but still have folded over flap.   I wanted the cute embroidery to show when completed.  You could also just fold in half and have an open pocket bag.  This can change with your needs, and the shape of your placemat.  There is no right or wrong here!

Since all the edges are already finished off cleanly, I decided to just stitch them up on the right (showing side).  I pinned the wrong sides together (right side out) and sewed a simple seam on each edge from the bottom to the opening. This now requires no turning.  Since the stitches will be seen make sure to make them neat!  I used a decorative zig zag, but you can do a plain single stitch – just reduced the length to a small stitch for the seam to be extra secure.   You could also use contrasting fun thread.

At the beginning of your sewing at the bottom and then again at the top of the pocket opening on each side, I sewed back and forth several times just to give it extra strength.  Especially that top seam edge will get the most stress and you don’t want the stitching to open up!

Upcycle Placemats to Make a Clutch Bag:

upcycle placemats to make a clutch bag

For the clutch bags I was able to use some of the Christmas ribbon I also got on clearance. But any woven ribbon would work.

  • Cut 2 lengths of ribbon 8″ long.
  • Satin stitch one length in the center of the top flap.
  • Satin stitch the second piece right below it on the bottom part of the tote (I twisted it a bit so you could see both seams, but they are in alignment.)
  • Tie in a bow to make a nice closure.

This would also be used as a travel or lingerie bag!  Great for next year’s Christmas presents!

Upcycle Placemats to Make a Shoulder Bag:

upcycle placemats to make an over the shoulder bagI found some soft cording 90% at Michaels also at after Christmas clearance.

  • Cut a 30″ length (cording, woven strips, leather, etc.)
  • Securely sew on the back edge on each side with a firm satin stitch.

I didn’t make closures for these shoulder bags because I felt the flap was long enough to keep closed, but you could easily add one similar to the clutch bag.Upcycle placemats into clutch bags and shoulder bags

These were very quick and easy to make.  They should prove to be very durable.  The cost of making one of these bags with ribbon, or cording was just about 30 cents!

I plan to include these in my Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts.  But they would be great for many different ministries as well!

Check out all my other craft tutorials!

How to Make Mini Sewing Kits

Make With Love Free Printable Tags

Upcycle T-Shirts Into Jump Ropes

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2 Comments on Upcycle Placemats: Transform Into A Clutch or Shoulder Bag

  1. This is so funny–I just finished making some purses for Operation Christmas Child a month or two ago. I had been praying for some deals, and felt prompted to head to IKEA the next day. I spotted some orange velvety quilted placemats for 10 cents each! Ten cents! So I picked up about 17 of them, I crocheted flowers and shoulder straps in bright colours to play off of the bright orange, sewed a couple of side seams and had more than a dozen purses for less than $2 total. 🙂 🙂 🙂 BTW, I loved the spinning tops! Have to try making them myself!

    • YAY Linda! What a crazy great deal – I love those hidden Ikea sales. Thank you so much for sharing – and so glad you liked the tops!

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