Marije’s Reader ReFash

A Splurge or A Steal?
Thrift Score Thursday: Sylvia Edition

Today’s Reader ReFash comes from Marije, who has a brand-spanking new blog, called The Adventures of Making. I knew I had to share her latest project with you, as it combines two of my favorite things: Big tote bags and tacky thrift store art!

“Are you sure about that one?” the cashier of the thrift store said, raising one eyebrow while looking skeptically at the items that I was buying. She wasn’t talking about the sweet pair of high heels (new! can you believe my luck?) or the couple of storage cans I wanted to buy. No, the reason for her eye-brow action was a framed embroidered artwork, depicting some medieval, bearded man doing whatever bearded medieval men usually do.



By the look of it, it had been in the thrift shop for ages. I could feel the hesitation of the cashier: the thing was incredibly ugly. But I bought it nevertheless. Was I out of my mind? Maybe, but I had great plans for it: making a shopper bag!

First, I took the embroidery out of the frame. I figured that I needed some extra fabric to actually make the bag, so I looked in my stash until I found a big piece of denim fabric that once was the cover of an ottoman.

Out of this denim I made a basis for the bag, with box pleads at the bottom. If you don’t know what box pleads are, you can either follow the instructions on my blog  where I have step by step instructions on how to make such a bag, or think about those triangular, flappy things on the side of juice or milk cartons; it’s exactly the same principle.

When my basic bag was ready, I sewed the embroidery to the front. And because of my awesome measuring skills (okay… luck) it completely filled the front of the bag.

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I also made some lining out of a piece of upholstery fabric. Then I added some pockets to the lining, since in my opinion, a bag without pockets is not worthy to be called a bag. It’s simply a sack. Sacks are for horses, not for urban girls.

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I added some straps made from some of the scraps of denim, put the lining into the bag and sewed them together the top seams. I was finished! I’m quite proud of this project! I mean, who doesn’t want to walk around with a piece of art (I’m generous with my titles today) on its bag?  Casually going to the market with it and say: “Oh I don’t need a plastic bag, I’ll just put these apples into my art”? I’m sold!

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Awesome job, Marije! Keep Making!

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52 thoughts on “Marije’s Reader ReFash

  1. NICE. Sweet refashion. I think this was religious art work. What came to mind immediately was the tax collector Matthew from Scripture. He may have been dressed in medieval garb but that man looks like he’s holding a scale in his right hand. To his left side looks like a money bag, also maybe a small pile of coins to the right of the money bag. Would be nice to know who made that art work to be able to search what it really was. That could very well have been liturgical art.

  2. Ding!! Inspiration!! Last summer I paid $2 for a needlework picture of an old fisherman( I always feel sorry when I see such labor intensive pieces of needlework being sold so cheaply. Almost disrespectful). Anyway, it was in a great frame so I figured someday an idea would strike! So now I will be able to use both frame and artwork!! Thanks for the great idea!!

  3. Love this! I am all about fun tote bags. Fashion, environmental, and they make great gifts too. :-) your re-use of someone else’s artwork is inspirational as well.

  4. I have some old needlepoint pictures done by my grandmother that sit in my basement never to be hung, but as a tote bag, they could be enjoyed. This is an inspired idea. Well done. Cheers, Michele

  5. She must go back to the thrift store when the woman that she bought it from is working. It is so fun to see before and afters.

  6. Wow – love it!!
    I plan on making a skirt that is way too small into a tote bag… Might just have to get the sewing machine out and start!!

  7. Great idea and I won’t even have to go to the thrift shop for the embroidery. I have some “crewel embroider” I did a LONG time ago from kits and I can’t imagine them going up on the wall again. May make into bags but w/ either Scotchguard or maybe “removable embroidery” Results from washing it would not be pretty. If it worked for her, maybe it will work for me!

  8. as wall art? um, yeah. no. as a totes (pun intended) fashion statement art bag. tres chic.
    very inventive idea.

  9. Such a fantastic idea and great execution!! I should have done this instead of decluttering and giving all of my old work away.

    How much did it cost? Just wondering why the sale clerk was questioning your purchase.

  10. This is a great idea. Those embroidery pieces took someone a lot of time and yet, What can we do with them? This is great.

  11. It’s needlepoint and I’m sure it took a long time. Congratulations on giving it an unexpected new lease on life!!

  12. I love this! Thanks for sharing your awesome idea. I love history and the Middle Ages is one of the time periods I enjoy studying, so I was immediately intrigued by your post.

  13. It might be “tacky”, but someone made every stitch on that tapestry, and look how awesome it is now as a tote bag! Once i am gone, i wish i could see what people are going to do with my “tacky” crafts.

  14. I think this is fabulous!!! I kept all of my cousins (all boys) their
    Needle projects from my grandma,would make a great tote for them for their bdays! We all are very (try to be) green these days. Thanks for the idea!!

  15. I love this tote! I really appreciate that somebody somewhere worked really hard on that embroidery, and I love that you gave something that everybody thought was a dud as a framed piece some new life and some respect. I think it’s a totally chic bag!

  16. What a great new life for this piece! I’ll have to look harder at the embroidery at the thrift store from now on. This might be one of my favorite refashions.

  17. That’s it! I’m going to take back out of my garage sale stack the very tacky piece of crewel embroidery that I just put in there today, and make it into a bag!

  18. Great idea – love your tote.
    I had a similar work of art in my stash – wooded mountains and a deer – and I transfered it to the back of a jeans jacket – great hit at the Munich Oktoberfest!

  19. That was a terrible piece of wall art, but it made a tackily awesome bag… with pockets, OF COURSE! Good job!!!!

  20. Great job!!! I play D&D, this would be the coolest bag for all your stuff!! Love your ability to see the finished piece in that odd thrift find. (Dungeons and Dragons for the non-nerd followers!)

  21. Somebody spent hours making that “piece of art”…It was lovely that you gave it a life, a fun life at that.. I have many thrift shop finds that are handmade. I occasionally incorporate then into a bag. or, even pot holders…

  22. I actually think that canvas is really cool xD Someone spent a LOT of time making that (I have a mother who does needlepoint) so it was really awesome of you to bring it back to life like that!

  23. Fantastic. I love it. Maybe I’ll turn some of l those cross stitched things I made in the 70s into bags too. Great idea and a great job.

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