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Raffia Tote Bag and Hat

A plain canvas tote and a straw beach hat are turned into bright, sunny creations using touches of raffia.




  • Canvas tote
  • Raffia
  • Disappearing-ink fabric pen
  • Large-eyed needle
  • Pom-pom maker
  • Floral wire
  • Pliers
  • Straw hat


  1. Step 1

    Start with a canvas tote and raffia in 3 shades. Using a disappearing-ink fabric pen, draw circles on tote, 1 for each sunburst (ours are 1 1/2 to 5 inches in diameter).

  2. Step 2

    Mark the center point of a circle (A) and 1 point anywhere along the circle's edge (B). Thread a large-eyed needle with raffia in desired color, knotting it before embroidering design using a French-knots-on-stalks stitch.

  3. Step 3


    Draw needle up through A. Wrap raffia around needle 3 times. Holding wrapped portion together, gently draw needle down through B, forming French knot.

  4. Step 4

    Repeat step 3, always coming up through A but moving B 1/4 inch over, until the sunburst is complete.

  5. Step 5

    Make matching pom-poms to trim a straw hat. Using a pom-pom maker and raffia, make a pom-pom (ours are 1 1/2 inches in diameter).

  6. Step 6

    Wrap center with floral wire, twisting wire with pliers to secure. Trim wire to 1/2-inch. Repeat to make more pom-poms, using raffia in different colors.

  7. Step 7

    Then attach to hat with embroidery thread.

Martha Stewart Living, June 2008



Reviews (24)

  • mizkitty1 5 Aug, 2010

    I have been using my flower looms to create flowers and then attach them. Add a snap to the backs if you want to detach for washing and tack a couple petals or you could make a couple slits and loop them inside.

  • seldahenry 1 Sep, 2008


  • NiteShayde 27 Jul, 2008

    Ingrid, try again with a triple ply silk embroidery floss or even silk ribbon instead. Raffia is hard to work with. You have to make sure that you don't pull too hard or wind it too tight before you pull it through, it has be fairly loose. I think you'd have a better time doing this in floss. Good luck!

  • eanda93 2 Jul, 2008

    You can buy the tote at any craft store. They come in different sizes.

  • sunshine 1 Jul, 2008

    This is a lovely idea. I am going to make grocery shopping bags for myself and all of my family families. Anybody have a idea on how to make the tote bag?

  • ingridnazario 25 Jun, 2008

    I was unsuccessful at this craft. The raffia keeps breaking and the knots would unravel no matter how I held it.

  • dottikins 23 Jun, 2008

    I think this is a very cute idea! Looks so sporty! I think the rafia would work well, but you could also do it in a dark colored tote, with yarn or ribbon as suggested for a fall tote. I can picture black tote with orange decorations. Tks. Martha!

  • plawhorn 23 Jun, 2008

    Who cares Anna-I saw it too earlier but didn't have time to do it so forgot about it
    Now that it has reminded me I will get my stuff together and start , If you don't want to see something more than once or fun things why not just delete MS from
    your putter. Peg

  • Anna_Marie 22 Jun, 2008

    I added this idea to my collection on 5-22-08. Did anyone else remember this as a re-run? Either I found it before by viewing it under the "Also try..." section, or the MS staff is reusing some of their previous Craft of the Day ideas.

  • pkildow 22 Jun, 2008

    If you think this is cheesey you obviously have not been shopping in boutiques and toni shops in the spring and summer. Handbags, totes, shoes, belts and hats with raffia enhancements are very popular. And they are not cheap. Great idea MS craft team, I'll be doing this one!

  • ColleenKellyG 22 Jun, 2008

    If by cheesey you mean a trip to the dairy for fresh cheese and milk, then I so agree! I love this bag, almost finished with mine; raffia is fun to work with, pretty and I can show off my art work.

  • Dar-lin 22 Jun, 2008

    Cute idea indeed! I don't find it cheesy at all. Go to the department stores and price a similar bag. I love seeing the posts from Norway. Hi to Vigdis. We hope to make it to your country soon.

  • winterbeach 22 Jun, 2008

    Am I the only obe who finds this cheesey?

  • ingridnazario 22 Jun, 2008

    Very cute!! If raffia doesn't hold up well, use ribbon instead.

  • sweetbay 22 Jun, 2008

    Although a cute idea, I think iron-on appliques would be very pretty as well.

  • Pet-Nanny 22 Jun, 2008

    Raffia does not hold up well to washing. A light colored bag will need to be washed often, as they get dirty with everyday use.
    A very cute idea anyway!

  • Vigdis 24 May, 2008

    Today I have now learned something new. Thank you to all of you.

  • TriciaJay 23 May, 2008

    Cute idea. I wish the pic were bigger so I could see the details.

  • Suzngr 22 May, 2008

    Another idea rather than Raffia is to crochet small flowers and sew them on the bag. Everyone that crochets always has little pieces of the thread around. What better use than to put on a tote bag!

  • jasper58 22 May, 2008

    Hello Vigdis: Raffia is a type of long grass that is harvested and dried. It can be woven into cloth, used to wrap forms such as dolls, and can be coated to make it waterproof. Raffia is often used for mats (rugs) to sIeep on in warmer countries (not my Canada or your Norway) t's natural colour is beige, but it takes dye well and is available in many soft and bright colours.

  • CDelaney62 22 May, 2008

    If you can't find rafia in Vigdis maybe you could use yarn or emborderie floss. Good luck with your project.


  • CDelaney62 22 May, 2008

    If you can't find rafia in Vigdis maybe you could use yarn or emborderie floss. Good luck with your project.


  • Vigdis 22 May, 2008

    What a beautiful Tote Bag.. To sew a bag like this, I think I can do. This is a really green Idea.. I do not know exactly what a raffia is... so now I have to read med english to norwegian book .. With love from Vigdis, Norway

  • Anna_Marie 22 May, 2008

    now THIS is classic Martha! I love this idea! The canvas bags are easy to locate at craft stores. The raffia might be harder to find in different shades. Be sure you get the real raffia that has color that is water-proof! Some of the bright colored "imitation raffia" you find for gift wrap would bleed onto the tote.