No Thanks
Keep In Touch With

Sign up and we'll send inspiration straight to you.

Martha Stewart takes your privacy seriously. To learn more, please read our Privacy Policy.


Beach-Towel Bag




With very little alteration, you can turn one of your beach towels into a tote.


  • Towel
  • Sewing kit
  • Colorful grosgrain ribbon


  1. Step 1


    Start by folding one-third of the towel over on itself.

  2. Step 2


    Topstitch along the two sides. Fold the free flap down, and tuck it into the bag.

  3. Step 3

    Cut two 12-inch lengths of colorful grosgrain ribbon. Fold one piece of ribbon in half lengthwise, and sew each of its ends to the top edge of one side of the tote bag to form a handle.

  4. Step 4


    For reinforcement, sew the ends of the ribbon with a square containing an "X" of stitches. Fold the second piece of grosgrain ribbon in half lengthwise and attach it to the other side of the bag, as before, being careful to leave the flap free to open and close.

Martha Stewart Living, July 2002



Reviews (18)

  • mamazabet 19 Nov, 2011

    I didn't get the flap either. I ended up folding the flap down, as instructed and then back up again. Then I sewed two partitions into that small flap to make pockets. Easy, it just took me a day to figure out what to do with the flap.

    Another issue, my towel was too fluffy. It made it hard to sew, when you select a towel make sure it's not too think! At least in the end it was super soft.

  • Lapensee 26 Jul, 2011

    Love this idea, I have a chihuahua and when she is tiered from walking or swimming she likes to hid in my tote bag, so I had to stuff towels inside, once I make this every time I take her swimming this is coming with, so after were done she can dry off in her fave hiding place with plenty of room. Please do not try to tell me not to let her inside the tote or make nasty comments, she is NOT a lazy over spoiled dog and I will never get your message as I will not be re reading posts.

  • meebzilla 11 Oct, 2010

    Great idea! You can use this for things other than a beach bag, too. I liked the ideas in some of the comments too. BUT - I've yet to see a column where someone doesn't knock Martha and the subject at hand. What is it with you trolls? If you don't like MS, then STAY AWAY! The rest of us are smart enough to figure out the directions, and we love this site. Take your negativity somewhere else, please!

  • Sunnytraveler 4 Aug, 2010

    Better to "attach" the sides using velcro --- that way you can still use the beach towel (opened) on the sand. Where are the instructions for the grosgrain ribbon "tic-tac-toe" I assume you sew the ribbon in the pattern for tic-tac-toe on side?????

  • brownsugargal 14 Jan, 2009

    When you tuck the flap in the bag. the back of the bag is where you put a 2nd handle. So watch the flap . So you don't sew it all together..
    So if you don't understand , try pin the towel . Then put flap in side. then look at the bag and then it will show you how to put your handles on. Just don't sew flap when you make the handle.
    Hope that well help you.

  • Lilipoots 6 Aug, 2008

    poor instraction very poor
    Too bad

  • Lilipoots 6 Aug, 2008

    I don`t get the flap Idea. Where are you suppose to sew othe handle? over it?

  • mrspsp 4 Aug, 2008

    I think the flap of fabric is a great idea! It lets the bag shift and hang more softly off the shoulder but still allows you to put the flap over the stuff in the bag to encourage it to stay in (and more private). No fussy snaps to sew on or velcro to get stuck to your more delicate swimsuit fabrics. Very clever.

  • MayMAMA 3 Aug, 2008

    I still don't get the flap?what is the purpose of it if it's tucked inside the bag?

  • Ruth3 29 Jul, 2008

    I made one using a terrycloth bath robe I had. It's one of those short robes with velcro down the front and little straps for sleeves. I never used it anymore. I just sewed up the sides and bottom and use the shoulder straps as the handles. I did sew a piece of fabric over the velcro so nothing sticks to it. I also added a little pocket inside for keys and such at the pool.

  • gaylemae 29 Jul, 2008

    You could add a clear plastic insert (or vinyl covered cardboard), scored to bend at the proper width, to make the bottom of the bag waterproof and more stable. Carry that wet suit home, without leaving a ring of water on your seat, but allow moisture to evaporate. It would also be removeable, making the bag either soft bottomed, or hard bottomed.

  • glorybees7 29 Jul, 2008

    If you tuck the flap in, how do you close the bag without covering one of the handles? Isn't it a waste of fabric? Are you not actually supposed to use the flap to close the bag? I don't get it.

  • murmaid 29 Jul, 2008

    Another variation of this project is to have a square of fabric that = 1/3rd of the towel. Line it up with the top of the towel and sew the bottom and the two sides, leaving the top open. Now you can just fold the towel over itself and into the bag, your towel is still usable! Add the handles as in the project above.

  • BKPorganics 29 Jul, 2008

    I use a rope for the handle you can get at any fabric or tack store. Also velcro a couple of tabs to the top to keep it closed. Easy to wash and use for picnics.

  • gammy5x 29 Jul, 2008

    Another idea for beach towels that I have done... I have folded the end down about 8-10 inches, then sewn the sides of the folded edges. This makes a pocket to slip over your beach chair or lounge so that it doesn't slip or slide down. You could even make the pocket deeper, if you had enough length, so that you could fold the towel up and slip it into the pocket for packing it up for the beach or pool.

  • pkildow 29 Jul, 2008

    I love this project and will be making more than one. Also, great idea Anna Marie for the pocket to slide over the chair back . I've noticed your comments before and you are usually right on - always positive - it's a good thing.

  • Anna_Marie 29 Jul, 2008

    Oh! the picture with this just gave me an idea for beach towels. Sew on a 6" strip of lightweight cotton fabric across the end of your beachtowels to keep them from sliding down the back of your chair. Sewing the fabric along the 3 outer sides would make a shallow pocket that would go over the top of the back of the chair. No more re-arranging the towel every tiime you lean forward!

  • Anna_Marie 29 Jul, 2008

    Nice instructions and even nicer illustrations! Thanks for the good idea! Toss in the washer