Thursday, June 6, 2013

The One Towel Tote with Love and Laundry

Hi everyone! I'm Shatzi and I blog over at Love and Laundry
I'm the lucky mom of three really amazing kids. And I love doing a lot of things. Like cooking, sewing, crafting and playing.  I'm so, so excited to be here today! I love Everyday Art! Emily and Jaime are super talented girls!

one towel tote

Today I want to share a fun summer project! I had my kids in swimming lessons last year and I REALLY wanted them to have a great place to keep their wet clothes. A few months before, I helped my daughter sew a small tote to carry books in. One day I was thinking...I think the same concept might work to sew a towel tote. Little did I know, it would turn into one of my favorite projects of all time! We spent the summer using and reusing the towel totes. I put them away for the winter. We pulled them out again a few weeks ago, and, despite many washes, they still look great! So, if you are a swimmer, a beach comber, or an RVer, this is the project for you!

Here’s what you need:
A bath towel and tread

It really is just a one towel tote! I made two because I have two kids in swimming lessons.  I bought my towels at Wal-Mart and they are just standard size bath towels. According to the website, they measure 52” x 27”.  I loved having the stripes! It made measuring and cutting a lot easier, but it’s definitely not required.


STEP ONE: First start by cutting the border off of the towel.  Unless you have a heavy duty needle, standard needles don’t like to go through that part. In fact, they’ll bend or break.  And, yes…if you’re wondering, I found out from experience.

one towel tote step 1

STEP TWO: Once that nasty stuff is off, you need to cut out the pieces. It’s really easy to do. First, cut 4-inches off each long side of the towel.  See how having the stripes comes in handy? I just followed one all the way up.  Then cut 10-inches off the top and the bottom of the towel.  This is what you should have:

one towel tote step 2

Take the two rectangle end pieces, and trim those down to 10 1/2 inches wide by 7 inches tall. Those will be the pockets.

one towel tote step 2b

STEP 3: Now, if you have a serger, I envy you! Serge those raw edges up.  Otherwise, zig-zag all of the edges.  I’ve done towel projects before where I didn’t do that and, trust me, towels fray.  I’ll be completely honest, though.  I didn’t zig-zag around the long skinny pieces. They’ll be the handle and I figured that since the seam was on the inside and has lots of re-enforcement, it wouldn’t need it.  I’ll come back and update if I’m wrong.

one towel tote step 3

STEP 4: After your raw edges are taken care of, you can hem the top of the pockets  and the short ends of the main piece.  I did about 1/2” hem on mine. It doesn’t really have to be exact.

one towel tote step 4

I didn’t have a good picture of the finished hemmed pieces to show you, but if you’re super confused, these are the parts we’re hemming:

one towel tote step 4b

STEP 5: Now, sew the bottom of the pockets onto the outside of the main towel.  For the placement, I folded the towel in half (which you probably don’t have to do.  It helped me figure out where to pin it, but since I’ve already done the measurements for you, folding is probably optional.)  Pin the pocket right side down  8 3/4 inches away from the top seam.  Make sure you’re pinning to the outside of the main piece. If you want pockets on both sides, then repeat on the other side.

one towel tote step 6

Now sew the bottom of pockets down:

one towel tote step 6b

STEP 6:  Get your handles ready. You need to take the two long, skinny pieces and miter them together to make one really long continuous piece.

Place one end on top of the other creating a large L shape. Then, stitch diagonally.  Here’s a photo incase you are a visual person like me:

one towel tote step 7a

Once it’s stitched together, trim the excess towel.

one towel tote step 7b

Then, unfold.

one towel tote step 7c

Fold the handle in half right sides together, and sew.  I sewed with about a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

one towel tote step 7d

Now for the hardest part of the whole project, turning that handle right side out.  If you have a “handle turner inside outer” I’m incredibly envious!  What? You’ve never heard of a “handle turner inside outer”?  Can someone remind me what those are called so I can go buy one?  Towel material doesn’t like to slide against itself and turn right side out.  I improvised and used one of my mini-blind turning sticks.  I’m sure I’m amazing you all with my advanced terminology.  {UPDATE: reader Judy clarified what the "handle turner insider outer" is. They are called Loop Turning Tools or Bodkins  and can be bought on Amazon. I'm ordering one right away! Thank you Judy!! You're a lifesaver!!!!}

Once you get that thing turned inside out, my hat goes off to you! YAY!! You got through the hardest part! The rest is a breeze from here!

STEP 7: Pin and sew the handle onto the bag.

This is how you pin it:

one towel tote step 8

My two pieces of advice are 1. Make sure you center the handles (fold the tote in half and try holding it while it’s still pinned so you know the handles are even) and 2. Make sure you center the handles (meaning they are equal distance from the sides of the tote).

Then, sew the handle in place.

one towel tote step 8b

Don’t sew it in the center, sew it along both ends. And sew all the way around. I started on the outside (like the photo) and sewed all the way around in a complete circle.

one towel tote step 8c

Then, repeat for the inside side.

When you’re finished sewing the handle on, re-enforce the raw edges left at the bottom of the tote. I zig-zag stitched it with a width of 5 and a stitch length of 1.5.

one towel tote step 8d

STEP 8: Phew! We’re in the home stretch now! All you have left to do is stitch the sides of the tote together to make a bag!

With the right sides together, pin the open ends. You can either pin straight down, or put a little “W” pucker in the bottom to create depth to your bag. I pulled in about 4-inches (2-inches for each side) to create the “W” at the bottom.

one towel tote step 9

It’s sort of hard to see with all of the bulk, but this is what you’re going for at the bottom:

one towel tote step 9b

Then, stitch the sides together:

one towel tote step 9c

I used about 1/2” seam allowance here, but it really doesn’t matter too much. Whatever you feel comfortable with. When you’re done with both sides, turn the tote inside out.  And that’s it!! Your bag is finished!!

one towel tote 2

Now you can take it to the pool or the beach.

one towel tote 3

And if you have wet clothes, you won’t have to worry about a place to put them!

I would love to have you follow me on  my Blog, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!!

Thanks Shatzi! What a fun idea! Stop by and check out more of her great ideas. 

Until next time,


  1. SO CUTE!!! I just love this idea. Thanks for sharing with us. :)

  2. Super cute! I've been looking for a tutorial for something like this for a while now, Thanks!


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