Friday, February 27, 2015

Stenciled Tank Top Beach Bag

Yes, That’s a Tank Top Beach Bag
by June Pfaff Daley

Spring fever has me in a clean-out frenzy. I am completely aware we just have too much stuff and I need to resist bringing in more. I hold my breath when I drive-by local craft stores knowing if I set foot in one I am doomed. Being creative can no-doubt contribute to mountains of clutter, not to mention be a costly endeavor. So in the spirit of reducing and reusing, my latest project helped me do both without sacrificing the urge to create. Several of my daughter’s outgrown clothes caught my eye as I was packing bags for goodwill. With spring break on the horizon, I settled on transforming a tank top and an outgrown pair of jeans into a bag with a tag. Now all we need are airline tickets and a sandy beach.

1 well-loved tank top
1 outgrown pair of jeans
stencils (of course) Sea Urchin, Seahorse, Starfish
fabric paint
sewing machine
fabric scissors
Crop-A-Dile (or eyelet setting tools)
fusible web

Plan the bag design. I used my Seahorse, Sea Urchin and Starfish (for the bubbles) stencils. The bag will be oriented like photo above. Line up side seams to make handles to plan the front of the bag. Using fabric paint, stencil on the designs.
At this point you can stop and ask yourself how involved you would like to make your bag. You can go super easy and just stitch the bottom shut (as I had originally planned to do) OR do something a teeny bit more involved and make a sturdy bottom for the bag using a jean leg.

To make the bag with the jean bottom, line up a pair of jean legs with your flat tank. Leave approx. one extra inch on each side of bag and three inches of the actual jean leg.  Cut as in photo above.

Stitch a ¼ inch border all around your piece of jean fabric.

Then tuck the corners like so and sew off little triangles. Cut off the triangles where they are stitched.

Turn the tank and jeans inside out and line up tank with jeans to sew on bottom all the way around. After you’ve sewn the inside, flip the whole thing and sew around the outside. That’s it! Bag done.
Full disclaimer: I am not a seamstress. I taught myself to sew. (Seasoned sewers can probably  tell.) I study how things I want to make are made to make similar things. For example, grab a couple bags you already own and look at how they are put together. It’s not rocket science and I will argue there is no right or wrong way. I looked at five different bags when concocting this one and all were sewn together a bit differently. If you are new to sewing or a non-professional like me, take a breath and realize it’s perfectly okay to wing it a bit.

As it happened, I looked at all this awesome jean fabric and thought, ‘Why not make a tag? I’d really rather make a tag then get to the five piles of laundry I should be doing.’ So here goes: 1) Cut two circles from the jeans; 2) Stencil design (sand dollar) on fabric; 3) Put the pieces of jean back-to-back and iron fusible web in the middle of the jean sandwich to provide stability. Zig-zag stitch around the entire piece; 4) Punch a hole in the tag for an eyelet. Set your eyelet into the hole with the greatest tool ever, the Crop-A-Dile (I was not paid to say that, but Crop-A-Dile is welcome to pay me if they’d like), or use a traditional eyelet setting strategy. Add a keychain and hang this super-cute tag from your bag.

Now grab your SPF 40 and head to the beach. Be prepared for DIYer stares of admiration as you confirm, “Yes, this is my one-of-a-kind upcycled tank top bag.”

June Pfaff Daley is a mixed media artist who creates with everything from wood to fabric. She enjoys transforming thrift store treasures and favors whimsical motifs. June resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with three fantastic kids, one supportive husband, a darling dog and a charming cat. Visit her website:

 Stencils Used:


  1. This is such a great idea, and it turned out so cool! Now when I go through clothes to donate, I'll be keeping an eye out for upcycling opportunities :D Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Fantastic idea! It's 5 degrees as I write this, making it even more inviting. Off to look through old clothes... Yes, thanks for the great inspiration.

  3. I love this idea and the way this project turned out! Original and beautiful!


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