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Durable Tote Bag from Upcycled Containers

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This durable tote bag creation is a result of my reaching back into my childhood memories.  My mother’s friend made a similar, although less colorful, version of this hard bottomed tote for me as a child.   I hope you like it!

First, you need some kind of hard plastic container.  You can use the bottom half of a 2 liter soda pop bottle, a margarine tub, an ice cream pail– or anything else that you can think of.  I used my laundry detergent container.  Of course– you need to clean, rinse, and let dry whatever container you are going to use.

Cut off the Top

Then cut off the top portion. Scissors worked easier than I thought they would to cut my detergent container.   Don’t worry if it is not very straight.

Punch Holes

After cutting off the top, use a paper hole puncher to punch holes evenly spaced, using my picture to guide your placement.  If it is too hard to squeeze, find someone strong enough who wouldn’t mind doing you a favor (like I did).

Detergent Container, Before

laundry detergent container with holes punched into it
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Spray Paint it

If your tub or container is not all one color already, you can spray paint it to the color of your choice.  The one I had as a child was no color at all– like an opaque ice cream pail.  Be sure to use spray paint that is for plastic.  I chose to spray paint mine a lovely shade of purple!*

spray painted detergent container

While you are choosing your spray paint, look to see what leftover yarn you have that will coordinate.  I had this blueberry variegated yarn from a long time ago.  You will need a small size crochet hook and a medium sized hook.

detergent container with yarn and crochet hooks

Crochet Yarn onto Plastic Container

Use the small crochet hook to crochet your first row, using a single crochet stitch and the holes that you punched.  Single chain one or two stitches as needed between the single crochets that attach to the plastic tote.  You can see now why cutting a perfectly straight line didn’t matter— the crochet covers it up!

detergent container with yarn crocheted onto it

Now you could stop right here and have a cute container to hold anything you can think of!   But I had a bigger plan for mine.

detergent soap container with yarn crocheted onto it

Other Crochet Projects you may like…

After the single crochet first row, I switched to a medium sized hook and crocheted double stitches in rows around and around, until it got to a height that I liked.  I crocheted nine additional rows, using double stitches.

Pom Poms

Then I made a chain, leaving both ends of the chain long, so that I could tie on a pom-pom to each end. Weave the chain through the top row of stitches before adding pom-poms. I weaved mine through every two stitches.

To make the pom-pom, I wrapped the yarn around my four fingers about 30 times (count how many times if you want both of your pom-poms to be the same size).  I used the long end of the chain to tie around the middle of the 30 loops that I had made. Then cut through the loops on each side, and keep trimming and giving the pom-pom a haircut until it looks evenly circular, being careful not to cut your chain that is tied on.

yarn wrapped for a pom pom

Here is my durable tote bag all finished! Make your chain long enough to open the tote completely.

laundry detergent container with yarn crocheted onto it

Tie a bow when you want it closed.  I think the one I had as a child had two chain circles, so they could both be pulled like drawstrings and used as handles for a purse.  But depending how heavily you are going to load your bag, you may not want to carry it by the yarn handles anyway.

How do you like this hard-bottomed tote?  Instead of searching for how to make a rigid bottom insert for your floppy tote bag, you can have a structured bottom to start with!  You can upcycle containers that would otherwise be trash.

If you have leftover yarn, spray paint, and containers– this can be a completely free project, from trash to treasure!!

Detergent Container, AFTER!!

laundry detergent container turned into a tote bag
before and after pictures of laundry soap container turned into a tote bag

*Sharing at: My Thrift Store Addiction

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  1. This is awesome! Thanks so much for sharing with us in the Love To Craft Challenge Blog’s April Anything Goes challenge! We appreciate you joining us this month!
    Leslie, LTCCB DT

  2. This brought back some early 1970’s memories for me. I had a little purse that my aunt made for me using this method when I was a little girl. Mine was white and I clearly remember carrying it to church.

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