Home / Blog July 18, 2022

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How To Upcycle Your Napper Bag Into A Ruffled Tote Bag

We asked sewing expert and crafter Atia Azmi to share how she upcycled her Napper bag into an adorable ruffled tote bag.

How To Upcycle Your Napper Bag Into A Ruffled Tote Bag


Repurposing items in and around your home is a great way to work towards a zero-waste lifestyle – but if you’re not the crafty type, this can be challenging.

Below is a simple step-by-step guide for upcycling your Napper bag into a cute ruffled tote bag.

If you’re a complete beginner (like us!), you can also leave out the ruffles to make it even quicker and easier.

Did you know?
The first cotton tote was made by US company LL Bean in 1940 and was originally used as an ice bag.

When designing the packaging for our weighted blankets, we wanted to make sure there isn’t a single piece of plastic in sight. We’re proud to share that by eliminating plastic from Bearaby’s products and packaging, we’ve avoided more than 1100 tons of plastic waste since the inception of our small business. But with the global climate crisis still on the rise, we asked ourselves what we could do to help encourage our community to help us care for our planet even better.

How could we help each other cultivate a zero-waste lifestyle? One way was through our Napper Bag Upcycling Project. Below is the first in a series of tutorials demonstrating how to repurpose your Napper bag into beautiful, practical, sustainable items.

Meet Home Designer Atia Azmi

Atia Azmi is a home designer, crafter, podcast co-host, and part-time GP – a genuinely inspirational Napperhood member! Head over to @thebrightblooms to see some of her stunning floral work.

“The Bearaby Napper bag is perfect for an upcycling project! The undyed recycled fabric has a beautiful natural color and texture, making it ideal for modern projects. You can use your imagination to create a useful and stylish piece to make this eco-friendly packaging go even further.

I have created a simple ruffled tote bag with the Bearaby Napper bag fabric. For this project, I used a single Napper bag and as it is a nice sturdy weight, I didn’t need to line the tote bag, making it a great project for beginners.”

How To Make Atia’s Tote Bag From Your Napper Bag

Before starting your upcycling project, make sure you have:

  • Your Napper bag
  • Scissors
  • A measuring tape or cutting mat and ruler
  • A plate (to draw your curve)
  • Marking chalk or pencil
  • Matching thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins

Step 1:

From your Napper bag cut the following pieces: 1) two rectangles measuring 14x16” approximately (main bag pieces); 2) two rectangles measuring 2”x14” (bag top facing); 3) two strips measuring 3.5”x30” (handles) 4) one strip measuring 3”x60” (you can join strips together to get the right length if needed for the strips).

Step 2:

Place both main bag pieces on top of each other and fold in half. At the bottom outer corner, draw a curve using your plate and cut this curve out of your rectangle to create a rounded edge on both bottom corners of both bag pieces.

Step 3:

Decorate your bag if desired. I used an Indian wooden printing block and black fabric paint, you can also try potato printing or hand painting brush strokes on your fabric.

upcycling 2

Step 4:

Create your ruffle piece by joining strips if needed with a ¼” seam allowance. Finish one long edge by folding over ¼” twice and sewing this seam, or zigzag/overlock the raw edge and fold over ¼” once. Using a long stitch length, sew two rows of basting stitches at 3/8” and 5/8”. Gather your ruffle until the length is equal to the main bag piece perimeter excluding the top edge), leaving 1” on either side at the top of your bag.

Step 5:

Pin the ruffle piece to one of your main bag pieces, along the perimeter of the bag. The ruffle should be face down with your main bag piece facing right side up. Baste the ruffle to the main bag piece.

Step 6:

Place the other main bag piece face down on top of the bag piece with the basted ruffle piece. Stitch all around the edge of the bag (except the top straight edge) using a 3/8” seam allowance. Finish the seam with a zigzag or overlock stitch. Turn the bag right side out and remove basting stitches.

upcycling 1

Step 7:

Sew your facing piece together, short edges together, on both sides to form a loop. Press one long edge to the wrong side by 3/8”.

Step 8:

Make your handles by folding them in half longways wrong sides together, and pressing to form a crease down the center. Unfold the handle piece and press both long sides to the wrong side 3/8”. Now fold in half again along the crease made earlier and sew the handle together along the edge. Repeat with the other handle.

Step 9:

Pin your handles to the outside of your bag on either side, 2” from the side seams. Take your facing piece and place this over the right side of your bag with the right side of your facing against the bag, matching the side seams with raw edges together. Sew the raw edge using a 3/8” seam allowance all the way around the bag.

Step 10:

Turn your facing to the inside of the bag and press. Pin the facing to the bag, wrong sides together, tucking in the raw edges along the previously pressed line. Edgestitch along the seam to secure the facing, you may need to stop close to the bag side seams to avoid catching the ruffle.

We hope you enjoy making this tote bag – it’s perfect for carrying a few essentials on a day trip!