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Project

Removable Tote Organizer

This handy three-pocket pouch can easily be fashioned from a carpenter's canvas nail apron.

Materials

  • Carpenter's canvas nail apron (available at hardware stores).
  • Twill tape
  • Buttons
  • Sewing kit

Steps

  1. Step 1

    gt03aprmsl_toteht.jpg

    Cut off apron straps.

  2. Step 2

    Sew buttons and loops of twill tape (12-inch strips folded in half) to opposite sides of the apron at the same spot, 1 inch from top edge and spaced to match up with tote's handle straps.

  3. Step 3

    Place apron in tote; wrap twill tape around tote handles, and pull buttons through loops.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, April 2003

Reviews (44)

  • mfon 20 Jun, 2012

    I just made this by sewing with a heavy needle in the tool belt a scissors pocket and seam ripper pocket. I also subdivided the others for a rotary cutter and phone pocket...then sew the whole thing across the top twice. I found the twill tape and buttons were sagging with anything too heavy. This way it holds everything! Iron on decorations will personalize it!

  • ragsangle 3 Feb, 2012

    I simply used everything I had in my "scrap tote"...muslin for the pockets which I made myself; old buttons, a piece of canvas I had left over for the tote itself and brown suspenders for the handles on the tote. I used pieces of elastic to attach the pockets to the buttons! I also added pockets to the outside of the bag and to the sides of the bag for water and cell phone. And 2 pockets with zippers for money,change and credit cards. Several people have asked where I got it !

  • SpiritedShey 14 Sep, 2011

    I often have problems with the size as well. You can do several things to assist you. Once you get to the print stage, go into preferences and play with the portrait or landscape to see if that helps at all, also next to the Print to Size area you can also increase the percentageto see if that helps you at all. If all else fails, print 2 large sheets so the instructions are larger. Not the ideal, but it does help with seeing the print better. Just an idea.

  • iampam 13 Sep, 2011

    Note to WildeHilde I have the same problem but if you will hold down your Ctrl key and the + key at the same time you can make it as large as you would like to help you see the detail.

    This is such a great idea and it would work with velcro also.

  • thisoldspouse 13 Sep, 2011

    Why not use the strings cut off from the ends of the carpenter's apron instead of bias tape? I don't have bias tape just lying around waiting to use, so I'd have to go out and buy it. If I just used the strings I'd be saving time, money and resources. I sure like the idea of the item, though.

  • WildeHilde 14 Mar, 2011

    I really wish the pictures were larger...this is a problem quite often on this site. Some of us do not see as well as we used to, I wish you all would consider that we ARE a huge part of your demographic. How does the apron look on the other side? sigh

  • LauraHurn 8 Mar, 2011

    I made this tonight for a French market bag that I'll be using as a beach bag. And as the bag I bought is made of straw, without such an insert/organizer sand would threaten to get all over my belongings. I didn't really use these instructions, but moreover used the idea as inspiration. I didn't use a pre-made carpenter's apron, but rather just found some scrap material I coordinated w/my bathing suits and sewed away. This idea is brilliant! LOVE my new insert/organizer.

  • ChefDebbie 11 Sep, 2010

    Oh, it looks like you sew the loop onto the apron and sew the button on top of
    of the loop. Then when you attach it to the bag you bring the loop around
    the handle of the tote, and then button it.

  • dollfriend 11 Sep, 2010

    I'm confused about the button/loop part of it. It would help to see a diagram; that's for sure!

  • ChefDebbie 11 Sep, 2010

    Oops! Forgot to add that I would take the inexpensive apron apart and use it as a template.

  • ChefDebbie 11 Sep, 2010

    I think she is actually using the hardware store apron, because she says to cut the straps off the apron.

    I would want to use my own colored fabric, so I would need a template too. If I couldn't get one, I would priobably purchase an apron at the hardware store. I think you can get inexpensive ones.

  • spirlene 11 Sep, 2010

    I wish these directions had some diagrams to make it passible to follow with ease
    It is a great idea and one I am surprosed no one has marketed!

  • dinny-greer 9 Jan, 2010

    Yes, could we have a template to sew the pockets. It seems like it would be pretty easy to make.

  • karensquiltedtreasures 22 Nov, 2008

    I think this is a great idea for a book bag. A place for writing implements and calculator etc. How about a current sewing, crocheting project bag. Many great uses.

  • MarthaV 6 Nov, 2008

    I find the twill tape on line. I cannot find it at any local craft stores and department stores that have a sewing dept near where I live. I remember when I was little we bought the twill tape at a local oriental carpet dealer so that might be another option. And just to elaborate I have LL Bean totes that I purchased 15 years ago and they are still extremely stiff and sturdy. In fact one tote I purchased two years ago is still stiff and sturdy, however the bottom fabric is wearing on the corners...the colored fabric. I recommend hang drying these, that is what I have always done (to save on electricity) and almost all of them are in similar condition to when they were new.

  • JunesBadApple 4 Nov, 2008

    Hi MummieO,

    I have canvas totes from both LL Bean and from Land's End. IMO, the Land's End totes are far more stiff and hold their shape better . . . even after several runs through the 'hand washables' setting on my washing machine.

    Hope this helps . . .

  • tknb 3 Nov, 2008

    What a cool idea. Even a space for some cherry flowers. As, we find our lives sometimes hectic...fun to have a place for everything and be ready to go!

  • redtombo 2 Nov, 2008

    You can make it even easier, Velcro it. Just make it sturdier with fabric glue.

    But this is a great Idea.

  • JCsMelodie 2 Nov, 2008

    You can also find canvas totes at the various handicraft locations in department stores like Walmart, K-Mart, Michaels, etc. I believe I've even found them in Ross's and World Market.

  • JCsMelodie 2 Nov, 2008

    You can also find canvas totes at the various handicraft locations in department stores like Walmart, K-Mart, Michaels, etc. I believe I've even found them in Ross's and World Market.

  • jessig5 2 Nov, 2008

    If you do use the buttons and loops, it may be possible to use the same pocket organizer with a variety of totes, maybe make them in different colors. Heavy canvas is sold at fabric stores.

  • mkballard 2 Nov, 2008

    L.L. Bean has awesome totes like this in a variety of sizes and colors for $17.00 and up. You can find them on their website.

  • MummieOFcisi 2 Nov, 2008

    where would i find a sturdy tote made out of this canvas? it looks pretty stiff.

  • Cheryllion 2 Nov, 2008

    That's a great idea, purselady -- sewing it right to the tote (one zip through the sewing machine) would be easier for me than finding buttons, sewing them on, measuring the straps and loops to get them just right... Thanks for thinking of that!

  • MadeByJade 2 Nov, 2008

    This is a Fantastic idea!!

  • sawzbella 2 Nov, 2008

    What a great idea LeafLady!! Thanks!

  • purselady 17 Aug, 2008

    it could also be ribbon or you could sew it into your tote too.

  • mkballard 16 Aug, 2008

    I am pretty sure that you can get twill tape at your local fabric store

  • Leaflady 16 Aug, 2008

    You can find twill tape at your local fabric store usually. This is handy for the grocery store tote bags so that you do not have to take a purse. Put your coupons in one with your grocery store card, keys in another and coin purse in the third.

  • khollingworth 15 Aug, 2008

    Where would I obtain the twill tape - hardware or craft store. Thanks! Kim

  • Joannette 14 Aug, 2008

    I love this idea. I can use this for crafts and make a separate one for a children's church bag. I teach at my church and this would come in handy. I would like to embellish each one to suit the need of the bag. This is a fantastic idea!

    Thanks, JoAnn

  • Joannette 14 Aug, 2008

    I love this idea. I can use this for crafts and make a separate one for a children's church bag. I teach at my church and this would come in handy. I would like to embellish each one to suit the need of the bag. This is a fantastic idea!

    Thanks, JoAnn

  • geekygrandma 14 Aug, 2008

    @CraftTestDummiess - you can search for Gardener's Apron here - it has pockets similar to the carpenter's apron and shows instructions on how to sew it. Especially good if your tote is on the small size and you need a custom-made insert. LOL on anyone having a *small* tote!

  • sheroo 14 Aug, 2008

    I'd really love to have one of these but.... I CAN'T SEW! How about using fabric glue?

  • kristhom 14 Aug, 2008

    This type of tote has become my standard baby gift (with baby's name monogrammed on the front). It's always well received, but would be even more useful with one of these! BTW, since these totes come in various sizes, the standard carpenter's apron may not be a perfect fit, but it wouldn't be hard to create one from simple muslin or, for a baby gift, a cute contrasting fabric.

  • Neskya 14 Aug, 2008

    The napkin idea is good; you can add some color to the pocket. The extra sturdiness of the carpenter apron canvas, however, adds some stiffness to the pockets, making them easier to use. Good ol' interfacing could boost the napkin's stiffness.

  • Meems 14 Aug, 2008

    I believe that you must also have a tote bag already and the canvas apron fits inside the tote bag. I think a list of items required would be helpful.

  • mabe123 14 Aug, 2008

    I know Lowe's and home Depot sell these aprons for .99 all the time. It has their logo on it, so it's advertising for them. Also, reuse the apron ties you just cut off for the button loops...

  • flidhais 14 Aug, 2008

    Bucket tool organizers have "many" different sized pockets and come in different colors. They're extrememtly sturdy too.
    I think I will try adapting one of them to fit a tote.

  • my-job-sparkles 25 Apr, 2008

    What a great idea, my purse is a similar design to this tote and I'm constantly losing little things in the bottom. I can't wait to make one of these!

  • my-job-sparkles 25 Apr, 2008

    What a great idea, my purse is a similar design to this tote and I'm constantly losing little things in the bottom. I can't wait to make one of these!

  • CraftTestDummies 28 Feb, 2008

    If you don't have access to a carpenters' apron, make a quick approximation with a fabric napkin. fold up 1/3 of the length, and sew a seam down each side. Next, make short seams from the folded edge to the finished edge.... make little pockets of varying sizes- to fit cell phone, a skinny one for pens, glasses, etc. Then follow the directions above for adding twill tape and buttons to attach to the handles.

  • blondebobbi 15 Feb, 2008

    A template would be wonderful! I would like that too. Since no one has submitted a pattern for it, I thik I might just try to make my own.

  • Tetamalu 8 Jan, 2008

    One does not always have access to a hardware store. It would be great if a template or pattern could be included as a PDF (Adobe Reader) for this great idea.
    However, I think it would be doable if you are making a tote from scratch.
    Thanks for the idea.
    Alma Lou