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Kid Towel Tote

This homemade satchel has quite a few tricks up its sleeves -- er, pockets. For one thing, it's not simply a tote bag; it's also a beach towel. Plus, it has pockets inside for holding goodies and supplies.




  • Large bath towel (ours is 35x65 inches)
  • Basic sewing supplies
  • Cotton bias tape
  • 3 yards (or 94 inches) 1-inch-wide webbing straps


  1. Step 1

    Sew pockets into both ends of the towel: Turn the ends up 7 inches, and stitch sides. Stitch seams perpendicular to fold to make pockets; we made four on each end.

  2. Step 2

    Make pocket ties to hold pockets closed: Cut two 7-inch lengths of cotton tape for each pocket. Hand-stitch ties to either side of the inside of each pocket, and tie.

  3. Step 3

    To add a handle, turn towel over so the side without pockets is up. Mark two parallel lines lengthwise on the towel, each 12 inches in from the sides, and beginning and ending 12 inches from the folded ends. Overlap the two ends of a 94-inch length of 1-inch-wide webbing to create a continuous loop, and sew. Pin opposite sides of the loop to the towel along the marked lines, leaving equal amounts of webbing free at either end to create the handles. Topstitch in place with two parallel seams.

  4. Step 4

    To fold the towel into a tote, lay it out with the pockets facing up. Fold the two long sides inward so they meet in the middle. Then fold up the short sides so they meet in the middle. Fold crosswise again, and the tote is ready to accompany kids to the pool or beach.

Martha Stewart Kids, Volume 8 2003



Reviews (33)

  • Jessica Bumgarner 18 Aug, 2012

    My kids got one of these for a gift and the way the lady made it is she folded the towel about a 1/4th of the way down then sewed both sides of it then you flip it inside out (if there is an inside out on a towel but I think you know what I mean) and then sewed the straps on

  • macw 21 Jun, 2012

    ok I get it but I think I would make the pockets on the outside with the staps and use velcro instead of ties, that way when folded up the pockets would not be burried inside and would be accessible for keys, wallet etc. Its not a bad start but I think I could still improve on idea. I guess I have read more patterns and done more sewing to understand the concept. But is still rather vague had to get a towel and demonstrat to myself. But I agree it is just a folded towel with handles.

  • kabc401 20 Jun, 2012

    OK, I think I got it after reading it 50 times! But my question is what you end up with is a folded towel, right? How the heck are you supposed to carry anything in a folded towel that you can't just roll up like a sleeping bag. Not gonna try this one!

  • kabc401 20 Jun, 2012

    Seriously??? I have been sewing since I was in grade school and I can not get the gist of these instructions. Martha, get with it and do something about this!!! All these people are ticked off!!!

  • amp7551 19 Jun, 2012

    I tried posting a comment earlier and was suppose to receive an email. Never got it. I guess they didn't like what I said. I'll try again....In short, these instructions are horrible. Read prior comments for improving your craft instruction policy.

  • bass1 19 Jun, 2012

    The new format for finding instructions and the instuctions are very hard to follow. Go back to the original format. Patience is a virtue but getting into here stetched one patience to the limit.

  • amp7551 19 Jun, 2012

    Well, when I saw this, I was excited and thought I would whip up a couple to take with us on our vacation. Wrong...I printed the instructions and have sat at my sewing machine reading and re-reading until my eyes were blurry. I am an experienced sewer and totally agree with the prior comments. Martha, you must have an employee who monitors your website comments....please read them and take the suggestions. Here's another idea, embed a video in the instructions.

  • SewMimi 19 Jun, 2012

    These instructions sound like watching the show and hearing the script spoken while you watch it being made. That is okay in that context. However, take away the visual and you are left in doubt as to exactly what to do. I totally agree. If you are going to post these various crafts on the site, you MUST have better written instructions AND photos to aid in the correct way to complete the craft. Martha, you do want your followers to succeed in these projects, don't you?

  • idebbi 19 Jun, 2012

    i'm a lifelong sewer/crafter and i too found the instructions a bit confusing....even a photo of the 'inside' of the tote, spread out, would help....

    seems like the instructions for the crafts on this site are getting more and more vague and obscure....

  • memb 19 Jun, 2012

    Definitely need pictures/photos and ridiculous that this keeps being reposted for the third year with the same complaints.

  • 1mjustalittlegoofyforgoofy 19 Jun, 2012

    I agree.... pictures like a pattern would be great! I look at these projects then delete as I want them made simple to understand.... I want it to be quick! So PLEASE Martha, add more details and pattern pictures!

  • Popeswife17 10 Jun, 2012

    I feel like Martha Stewart is a brand that brings crafting to people who are not "crafters" A brand that shows us how anyone can do this stuff. This is why I have found the directions on most of these projects to be disappointing. I just started "crafting" and I love a lot of the ideas I see, but usually have trouble understanding the directions. Seeing as how the projects are advertised to us as "easy&simple" it would make sense to give detailed instructions with pictures. PLEASE Thanks :)

  • diaj0y 15 May, 2012

    I agree photos would be great!

  • Shari_Kay 24 Jul, 2011

    The instructions for this project are the worst I have ever seen on any Martha Stewart project. What a shame. It looks like a great idea. Too bad we can't find better instructions. Hopefully I can find a pattern or instructions at another web site. Please let me know if anyone finds one somewhere else. Thanks.

  • cobramoto 23 Jul, 2011

    Step-by-step picture instructions would be more clear! Please post if possible. My daughter would love this!

  • ShadowPixit 23 Jul, 2011

    Diagram please?

  • 2blossom4 23 Jul, 2011

    I just read the directions and agree with the previous posts. The directions could REALLY be simplified. I like the wide pocket/stuff w/a T-shirt idea. That would be comfy, keep it clean and heavy keep it from flying around. The handle - What! I will look for an easier, just as cute a pattern. :(

  • srtasa 23 Jul, 2011

    detailed video instructions would be a great help.

  • 1sewsilly 4 Mar, 2011

    I wouldn't use the pockets to hold goodies and supplies while carrying the bag but they would come in handy when the towel is layed out on the beach to keep it weighted and items handy. Instead of two top and bottom middle pockets, just have one and stuff with a tshirt for a pillow. Put a patch pocket on outside between handles to carry supplies. Use a washcloth or scrap of fabric, either would work. You could even put one on each side.

  • jjlovesthebeach 2 Mar, 2011

    Very, very nice beach tote!! I love the idea!! I must concur with the preceding comments. I am confused by the directions. Diagrams and/or snapshots would be incredibly helpful. It might, also, help if someone (a less seasoned crafter or one who sews) could reread the instructions and maybe even create the tote (or whatever craft) without assistance. I'll be that would inspire invaluable instructions.

  • Elation 27 Jun, 2010

    If you read each step, it tells what is happening next and exactly what to do to create it. Query for fold down states above: 7". Washcloths for pockets was my first thought. Zippers would keep objects in when turned upside down, but it ups the cost quite a bit. A bright washcloth on either side when folded, as you have to remove the items regardless, to lie on it. Maybe you want a little pillow in one. :-) Elation

  • ivylynne 24 Jun, 2010

    needs a photo for each step.
    a pocket on each end...hmmmm....i'm asuming (not good to do) that the pocket is created from the ends of the towel but how big of a fold do you make for the pocket??

  • MollyBees99 21 Jun, 2010

    Need pictures to go with the instructions, please....

  • Mcflurry3 8 Jun, 2010

    Quite a cute tote and SOUNDS handy to have. However, you might want to rewrite your instructions. Incredibly confusing, on the other hand...perhaps you have given me the inspiration to engineer my own... I've a suggestion. When you create the instructions, have an unrelated party test the instructions to make sure they are understandable. Just a thought.

  • kcarskc 9 May, 2010

    Clear as mud to me!

  • LSaueracker 4 Jun, 2009

    I folded each end to make small pockets, then folded the sides in and the bottom edges towards the centre of the towel. Pocket bottoms will meet in the centre of the towel. Turned it over and could see where to sew the handles from each folded edge. When folded in half with handles to the top, pockets will be facing up but to make it look like this needs a very long towel;. I am going to add pockets at each towel end using matching facecloths. Easier.

  • jjaabb44 3 Jun, 2009

    great project but crazy!

  • AVONCentralOH 2 Jun, 2009

    The diagram for folding this towel is essential. Please add.

  • last2no 1 Jun, 2009

    Yes, please include diagrams. Thanks.

  • alicenj 31 May, 2009

    Diagrams are needed. After you fold down for the pockets, do you stitch the pocket bottom down to the towel?????????

  • raulbert 21 Jul, 2008

    can we get some diagrams? I got a little lost in the translation too...

  • mmm10 18 Jul, 2008

    I dont understand how to turn this towel into a tote in steps 2 and 3 either.
    Has anyone figured it out? Any diagrams?

  • lisastclaire 7 Jul, 2008

    I don't understand step 3 and 4 for folding the towel into a tote....