Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Re-purpose Tutorial~ Mexican Dress to Tote Bag

Several months ago, I found this beautiful Mexican dress at a thrift store (It was one of the items I was looking out for). I was so excited and started to examine it, then I found some ripped seams and stains that may not come off. Here was the moment of truth... Should I buy it or not... the embroidery was too beautiful to pass up, so I decided to get it. The wheels in my head were already turning and last week I finally made it happen.

I cut the dress in half... There was no turning back at this point! Because of how your dress might be a different size than mine and also Mexican dresses are not made too precisely (the seams are raw and often times uneven in many areas), I am not going to give you exact measurements in this tutorial. I will give some numbers for you to have an idea and you can use that to apply to your re-purpose project.

Ok, let me go over the list of things you will need for this project.

{You will need}

Mexican dress
Lining fabric
Fusible interfacing (medium to thick, according to your preference)
Matching thread
Magnetic closure

{How to}

1. Just as we started before the material list, cut the dress in half(set the bottom half aside) and unpick the sleeves. Decide on where to cut the dress in half; this depends on how deep/shallow you want to make the bag and the embroidery design.

2. Cut the shoulders and trim the sides. The goal for these steps are to make the front/back and left/right unevenness as even as possible.

3. Lay the dress piece on the large piece of paper and trace to create a pattern for the lining. If you want to trace it directly onto the lining fabric, that is fine too.

4. Fuse the lining piece onto the fusible interfacing according to the manufacturer's instruction. To add magnet closure, fold the lined fabric in half vertically to find the center. Then measure 1 1/4" from the top seam. Mark with pencil or erasable marker. Follow the instruction of the package to add the magnet.

5. Put together the main fabrics right sides together. Measure 3 1/2" from what used to be the shoulder line and mark with pencil on both sides; That is the starting/stopping point when you are sewing to make the bag. This way your bag will have bigger opening and it will be easier to find things. Sew. Also, sew the bottom corners to create the boxed bottom. You can find how to make the boxed bottom on the post I did in the past.

6. Sew the lining piece same as in step 5.

7. Make handles. Cut 2 - 4" x 15" strips off the bottom half of the dress. Also cut 2 - 1/2"x 15" of fusible interfacing. Fold the fabric strips in half right sides together and fuse the interfacing as pictured. Sew on the side, turn the tube inside out and press with an iron. Sew Both sides with 1/8" seam and two more lines in between.

8.Put together the outer bag and lining right sides together, then place the handles in the middle of those two layers and pin. Leaving 4" of opening, sew all around it. Turn the bag inside out and press the opening with the iron and pin. Top stitch to finish it off.

Now, it is ready to enjoy!

Oh! You might be wondering what happen to the rest of the dress... I made that into a pillow with some pom-poms. It is sitting pretty in my house. :)


  1. Oh I love love love this!! I've got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for tomorrow morning that features your tutorial: http://sewing.craftgossip.com/?p=88467 --Anne

  2. Love, love, love! I've admired those dresses for so long. I can't wait to find one to repurpose. Both the bag and pillow are amazing!

  3. You are so clever and talented! I adore this bag and pillow. I wish my sewing skills were half as good as yours. Thank you for sharing. I bet if you were to make something similar for your Etsy shop they would sell so fast!!

  4. I really love how you did that! I will have to keep my eye out for a dress one of these days. I love how the neckline became the opening of the bag! Ahh so cute!

  5. Wow you are so creative! Now I know what to do with the dresses I do not like anymore. Either pillow cases for my home or cute bags. :P

  6. Beautiful tote.......I have always loved the embroidery on these types of dresses. I have one I got in Peru. I think I just might make one and a pillow out it. I've never known what to do with it but let it hang in the closet. Now I know!!!!
    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful idea.

  7. I have a blouse from Mexico. My mother purchased when she went there in the 1950's. It is very beautiful. Now I shall make this. Thank you for sharing this beautiful idea.


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