Upcycled Apparel Bags

Upcycled urban outfitters bag

Once upon a time I worked at the mall, lucky readers,

which is a great place to learn about many things, for example branding, why working on holidays sucks, and parenting (in fact, you may discover that you never want to do it. Working at malls is great birth control especially if your chosen store is near a candy store…and if you work AT the candy store… πŸ‘ …by all means parenting may just be for you!).

But one day I also learned something kinda sad about myself…the story goes like this.

I found stuffed into a bathroom garbage can, a shiny silver canvas Athleta bag. It was unused but to cart a pair of yoga pants from the store…a valid reason only, and that’s a weak sauce argument, for branding purposes.

Being as I am, I instantly pulled it out of the trash in anger – what waste! what inconsiderate environmental slander! In a real planet saving move, I made for the door…then changed my mind and left the flimsy and frankly purposeless thing in the trash.

I hope you realize by this point that I don’t see myself as a high achieving and righteous environmentalist…

in fact I’m haunted by this experience because it feels very telling about me and my consumerism. And I frequently feel like cheap attempts to force “reusable” things into our lives end up having a worse impact because they get discarded anyways…and I mean no offense to Athleta, and should have it on record that a) I like their stuff and b) they are far from the only ones doing this…

Hence, upcycled apparel bags. If you can use it as is, great. If it’s headed for the trash, reinforce the handles, add a pocket or two, and use your swatches and yarn scraps while you’re at it. At the very least it’s a personalized gift bag.

Easy project directions follow, so you and the earth can live happily ever after.

The end (but not really, keep scrolling there’s more).

lindsey mae

Upcycled Apparel Bags How-To

disclaimer! Urban Outfitters appears in this post only because I had a leftover bag – I’m not sponsored by nor am I trying to promote Urban Outfitters with this content.


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a lot of my swatches are smaller than I wanted for the pockets, so for demonstration purposes I had to crochet extra pieces to make pockets. It’s a great opportunity to practice a stitch that you are curious about.

For Bag 1 – I used the cobblestone stitch, which you can learn about on Moogly

Upcycled urban outfitters bag
Even just thickening the handles made this bag way more functional. Plus I love the zany look.

For Bag 2 – I used the braided crochet puff stitch, which is best learned via video, thanks Oana crochet!

Upcycled Apparel Bag
These canvas bags came from Joann’s – I had them floating around and this turned out to be a great project

For Bag 3 – I used the basketweave stitch, tutorial available on Craftsy

Upcycled Apparel Bag in Black


Step 1 – If needed, crochet (or knit! or weave! etc) your swatch, creating a piece that is the size of your desired pocket

Step 2 – Use the embroidery needle and a strand or yarn to sew the pocket to the bag – you could also use a sewing machine for this step, and if you are a perfectionist, use pins to fix the crochet first.

Step 3 – cover the handles in basic overhand knots. This process will be exactly the same as that detailed in this tutorial for wrapped headphones on the Free People blog, in case you need a visual.

Step 4 – rock your new book bag, arts and crafts holder, weekender tote, you get the idea πŸ™‚

Urban outfitters bag before modification
I’ve had this bag for way too long – it’s much too flimsy for heavy groceries, but totally has potential…

Yarn scraps for up cycled apparel bags
my usual struggle with yarn scraps is that trying to use them all in one project tends to look tacky – in this context however, mismatched colors really work

#tbt to your camp days – friendship knots aren’t just for bracelets you don’t cut off for a year

Upcycled Apparel Bag

Upcycled Apparel Bag

Upcycled Apparel Bag - yarn carrier
I mean, I’m not going to pretend everyone is a nerd like I am…but a good yarn bag is life, friends.

Upcycled Apparel Bag - book bag
I hate carrying bulky backpacks to class – canvas bags like these are the better alternative


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