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Learn how to sew these easy DIY dollar store hand towel tote bags that only require one hand towel and two straps to make!
If you’re looking for an awesome beginner sewing project, we made tote bags out of hand towels and it couldn’t be easier!
For those projects, we used solid color hand towels and simple nylon webbing as straps.
In this tutorial, we are going to make DIY dollar store hand towel tote bags from colorful, fun towels and we are going to use fun straps too!
Let’s get to it!
DIY Dollar Store Hand Towel Tote Bags
Step 1: Gather Supplies
- Hand Towel – we bought ours at the Dollar Tree
- Straps – nylon webbing, jute rope, leather
- Sewing Machine
- Pins or Sewing Clips
Step 2: Look at the towel’s design, and decide if you need to cut the hand towel into two separate pieces, or simply fold it as we did with these tote bags.
This towel has a design that says “hello sweet summer,” and if we folded the towel, both sides would have upside-down words.
So for this tote bag, we cut the towel in half so the words could be right-side up, and the watermelons would be along the bottom.
Then we did a zig-zag stitch along the two cut edges so they wouldn’t fray.
Step 3: Lay the two pieces with the right sides together, and clip along the left, bottom, and right sides.
The top should be left open and unclipped – where you zig-zag stitched the two raw edges.
Sew along the left, bottom, and right sides of the tote bag.
Leave the zig-zag edges open; this will be the top of your tote bag.
(These photos have the bag laying upside down, with the open zig-zag side facing down, and the stitched three sides facing up.)
The photo below shows the zig-zag stitched raw edges where we cut the towel into two pieces.
Step 4: Turn the towel right side out.
The open zig-zag part is now at the top, and the bag is sewn along the left, bottom, and right sides.
Step 5: Clip your straps to the top of the bag.
Like we described here, you can either sew the straps to the outside of the bag or sew them to the inside.
For this bag, we are sewing them to the inside of each side of the tote bag.
Step 6: Sew the ends of the straps to the bag.
You can sew a rectangle outline as we did here, or you can add an X in the middle of the outline to add strength.
That’s it! Your bag is done!
And the “hello sweet summer” words are facing up to the top of the bag because we cut the towel in half.
A second variation of a hand towel tote bag:
The towel we are using for the tote bag below had a tropical design with parrots all facing the same direction.
So, if we folded the towel in half as we did in this original hand towel tote bag tutorial, one side of the bag would have parrots facing the right way, and the other side would have upside-down parrots.
Step 1: Cut towel in half.
For this towel, we decided to cut the towel in half, and then flip one side of it around so the finished bag would have all parrots facing up.
Step 2: Hem the raw edge that would be part of the top of the tote bag.
In order to do this, we had to do a zig-zag hem on the raw edge that would become the top of the tote bag.
Step 3: Lay the two pieces of fabric together, with the birds facing the top of the bag and the right sides of the fabric together.
Step 4: Sew along the sides and bottom of the tote bag.
The bottom of the tote bag has the other raw edge from cutting the towel in half, so I did an extra zig-zag stitch along the bottom to prevent it from fraying.
Step 5: Turn the tote bag right side out.
Step 6: Decide if you want to hem the top edge of the bag or not.
The top of the bag is rustic and rough because of the zig-zag stitched raw edge.
If you don’t like this, you can fold the edge and hem it.
I decided not to hem the top edge because I didn’t want to make my bag any shorter.
I like the dimensions of it as it is.
Step 7: Clip the ends of the straps in place.
Step 8: Sew the ends of the straps in place.
Sew back and forth several times to make sure the straps are secure and can handle some weight when you fill the tote bag up.
A third tote bag variation with leather straps:
In this third variation, we are using the exact same method of making a simple hand towel tote bag as we did in the original tutorial, but we are using a fun citrus print towel.
Step 1: Decide on the orientation of your towel.
The print on this towel all faces the same direction, so when we fold the towel to make the bag, one side will have the fruit facing up, and the other side will have it face upside down.
That’s ok with me!
If it bothers you to have one side of the tote upside down, you can do the second variation we showed above so that both sides face up.
But for this bag, I want to make it quickly and easily, I don’t want to have to hem raw towel edges with a zig-zag stitch, and I think the oranges look just fine upside down too!
Step 2: Fold the towel in half.
Step 3: Sew along the two sides of the towel.
(The other side should be folded and will become the bottom of the tote bag. The remaining side is open and will become the top of the bag.)
Step 4: Fold the bag right side out.
The photo below shows the side of the bag with the fruit facing UP.
The photo below shows the other side of the bag with the fruit facing DOWN.
I think it looks totally fine!
For this bag, we are using strips of leather, and clipping them to the outside of the tote bag.
Clip both sides of both straps in place.
Step 6: Sew around the strap ends to secure them to the towel.
If you want to add an X in the middle of the outline for added strength and visual interest, you can do this too.
There we have it!
We have made three different DIY tote bags made with Dollar Store hand towels!
They are so pretty!
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These DIY hand towel tote bags would be wonderful sewing projects for a beginner just getting started learning how to sew.
The Dollar Tree (where we bought our towels) often has fun seasonal towels, so there are plenty of options for new versions!
If you give this a try, I’d love to see the tote bags you make!