The 99 Cent Upscaled Tote Bag

Did you ever have an idea that just kept evolving?  I bought several tote bags at a local craft store {Pat Catan’s} last year for only 99 cents each.  I like to use them for yard-sale and flea market shopping but they were just so plain I wanted to perk at least one of them up a bit and I like how it turned out so much that I’ve been using it as my spring purse.  The natural color was a plain beige-ish tone but I wanted something pinkish.  I dyed the bag, some lace and other fabric in a bath of avocado {natural dye}.  This was so easy to do and the pink is a nice dusky tone.

First, I cleaned out the avocado and used the flesh to make some avocado cupcakes with avocado buttercream frosting.  I made sure the skins were free of flesh and then chopped them up and placed them in a large pot of cold water bringing it to a boil.  Once the water started to boil I turned it down to a simmer and let the skins steep in the water for 3 hours.

Next, I turned the heat off, strained out the skins and added the materials I wanted to dye {I threw in some wooden clothespins for good measure}.

I left the fabrics in the water for 3 days.

I removed the fabrics, wrung them out and then threw them in my washing machine using warm water and the gentle cycle.  I then dried everything on the low heat cycle.

Next, I ironed the tote bag so that I had a nice smooth canvas to work with.

I made fabric flowers out of the dyed muslin {I only used one flower for this bag but have the other on hand for some future projects}.  I added two layers of ruffles on one side of the bag.

And added some stripes to the other side ~ I used some painting duck tape to mark off areas to paint stripes and used some craft paint to add the lines.  Once all of the paint was dry I removed the tape {be sure to put cardboard or something inside the bag so that the stripes don’t go through to the other side}.

I also used a bird stencil {saved from a Cricut project}.

I also added my monogram {just because} and the number 5 with craft paint as well.

I used an old crib sheet for the lining making use of the finished edges to place at the top of the bag.  I measured the bag and cut the lining 1/4 smaller.  Once I had the lining fabric cut out I stamped some cupcakes onto the fabric in a random pattern {I used fabric ink for this}.

I added my lining to the bag and tucked in about 1 inch on each side to give the tote a little more shape.

Lastly, I added some lace and a fabric flower.

And there you have it ~ The 99 cent Upscaled Tote Bag.

Linking to: Pretty Thinks by Keren Dukes, Yesterday on Tuesday, Live Laugh Rowe Craft and Repeat, Home Stories A to ZThe Inspiration Board



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  1. Mary Beth…this is fabulous! This is what I call a major elevation – love it! Of course, am pinning and thank you for sharing! Have a wonderful Wednesday evening. Hugs!!
    Cindy Eikenberg´s last blog post ..DIY “Bee” Beautiful Beauty Gift Jar

  2. So, so, so cute!!!

    xo, Tanya
    Tanya´s last blog post ..Yellow Vintage Chair

  3. Your upscaled bag is so cute…I love it! Hugs, Penny
    Penny´s last blog post ..Our Day at the Auction

  4. This bag is so cute, Mary Beth. Thanks for the tutorial. Call me dumb, but avocados make pink dye. I don’t think I have ever heard that before. I am going to try it!
    lynn cockrell´s last blog post ..Tutorial-How to Make a Memory Shirt Quilt, Part Two- Adding Batting, Backing and Quilting the Blocks

    • Thank you, Lynn, and you aren’t dumb at all ~ I assumed the dye would be green until I read up on the process and when I found out it was pink I was all for it!

  5. Gorgeous!! I had no idea you could make a dye with avocado skins – and what a pretty color it gives!! (Luv your monogram too!!) :D
    Heather´s last blog post ..Easy Online Shopping meets Pinterest Fun // Spark Studio has it all!

  6. Love it Mary Beth! So cute… might have to put it on our summer project list. :)
    Maryann @ Domestically Speaking´s last blog post ..Are you on Hometalk?

  7. Cute project! I think my girls and I would enjoy making something like this. :)

  8. This is so adorable!! I’m making one :)

  9. That is really adorable! Amazing what a little creativity can get ya!
    debbiedoos´s last blog post ..Mother’s day gift idea & a Happy day to you!

  10. Hi Dear Friend! I am in love with this and want to feature it but I can’t grab the image. Can you send me a jpeg? xoxo
    malia´s last blog post ..DIY Polka Dot Sneakers

    • You are so sweet, Malia! I will email the image to you ~ I have no idea why images can’t be grabbed anymore ~ I need to figure this out. :)

  11. OMG, love this mary beth! sharing on G+ now!
    Jocie@TheBetterHalf´s last blog post ..Giveaway Extravaganza!

  12. Sharon B Graham says:

    VERY CUTE ! Got 2 G-babies that will love this!