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Woven Tote Bag

Our totes give new meaning to the phrase "book bag," thanks to a clever construction trick. 

woven tote bags hanging on the wall

Photography: Ryan Liebe

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2020

Introduction

The sturdy strips should be long enough to wrap around your book horizontally or vertically, with extra length in one color for the handles; depending on your bag design, you'll need enough straps to cover it either fully or loosely.

 

For more ideas, scroll through our entire collection of weaving projects.

materials

  • Hardcover book (the size of the bag you want to make)

  • Strips of two sturdy materials, such as heavy-duty cotton or leather (Tofl Leather Strip, 3/8", in Medium Brown, $16 for 72 in., amazon.com; Tofl Leather Straps, 1/4", in Brown, $14 for two 72" pieces, amazon.com; CreateYourBliss Round Leather Cord, 2 mm, in Light Pink, $3.50 for 9 ft., createyourbliss.etsy.com; Pacific Trimming Cotton Webbing, 50 mm, in Natural, $4.50 a yd., pacifictrimming.com; Pacific Trimming Cotton Webbing, 32 mm, in Gray, $3.50 a yd., pacifictrimming.com)

  • Fast-drying glue (Beacon Magna-Tac, $14.39, amazon.com)

  • Sewing supplies (optional)

  • Grommets (optional)

steps

  1. Wrap strips of fabric around the book vertically to create the warp, tucking the ends inside the book covers to secure. For the bag at right, we used one extra-long strip for the handles; if you do this, loop it down one side, then back up and down the other, so the ends are toward the bottom of the book. Glue the ends of the handle strip together (using a small amount of glue to avoid getting any onto the book); let dry completely.

  2. Weave weft strips horizontally around the book, going around the bottom and up the back side. Carefully glue the ends together; let dry completely.

  3. Slide out the book. Wrap the warp strips over the top weft strip, and stitch or carefully glue down the ends of the warp strips to themselves at interior of bag, right under the top weft strip. (Or use grommets to secure the ends of the warp strips.) If you want to add the handles in the bag at left, weave a long, thin warp strip of your desired handle length through the weft; glue the ends together, wrap with contrasting material, glue to secure, and let dry completely.

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