Upcycle a top into an evening bag. Make a bag sewing tutorial.

make an evening bag tutorial

Make a bag. Easy sewing tutorial. DIY clothes upcycling project.

In this easy sewing and upcycling tutorial, I’ll show you how I upcycled a top, with a mandarin collar, into an evening bag with stiff straps.

Watch the bag sewing tutorial below

I had previously cut up the top, using the fabric from the back to make a dress that was too tight for me bigger.  I’ll put a link to this easy sewing tutorial in the comments below.

The front of the top, with the mandarin collar and red embroidery detail was perfect to refashion into an evening bag.  The process was quite simple and I devised a really practical way to make the handles that I hadn’t used before.

Step 1 – Pin and sew new side seams. Sew new top hem.

The first step was to cut the top down and sew new side seams. I wanted the evening bag as big as possible, whilst still having a formal quality.  Little evening bags aren’t big enough for me – I carry a phone and a manner of all other handy items that I never end up using. The beauty of being able to make my own bag, is I could determine the size.

After pinning the new side seams and top hem, it’s over to the sewing machine.

I think this upcycling project highlights how you can repurpose beautiful fabric that has been created with skill and expertise, giving it a functional second life.

Step 2 – Make and sew the handles.

The next challenge was how to make the stiff handles that would sit up on their own. I don’t know how dressmakers do this (please let me know in the comments) but I used rope.  I went down to the my workshop and grabbed a few different types of rope and decided on the orange rope I use camping. It was perfect.

Next, from my offcuts I cut a few strips of fabric that I used to create the covers for the rope.

With the fabric turned inside out, I used my zipper foot to sew as close as possible to the rope.   I probably would do this differently next time, instead measuring and creating a casing or tunnel-like channel like you would for shoulder straps or a waist band. The zipper foot process wasn’t ideal and I did get some holes.

Once finished, the rope is removed and the channel turned right side out and the rope then fed through again.

An important tip here is to cut the length of the fabric tunnel that covers the rope longer so it’s just loose fabric, without any rope, so you can sew it onto the bag. 

Step 3 – Attached the handles to the bag.

Next, I measure equal distance from the side hems and pin the straps to the top of the bag and it’s over to the sewing machine.

Step 4 – Add a clasp to close the bag.

And finally, to create a clasp to keep the bag closed, I went through my bag of buttons. I decided on a big black button as I didn’t want the button to take away from the mandarin collar design and red embroidery. I simply hand sewed a ribbon tie that looped over the button.

And it’s finished. This was a quick upcycling project that could be completed within an hour. Best of all, it’s made to size and fits all the “essentials” that I never end up using.

Thanks for visiting, BEX.

clothes upcycling

Why clothes upcycling is important.

Clothes upcycling promotes a more sustainable, creative, and responsible approach to fashion, all of which contributes to a healthier planet and a more sustainable future.

Environmental Impact

Clothes upcycling helps reduce waste by repurposing old or unwanted garments, often diverting them from landfill.

With the fashion industry being one of the planets largest polluters, upcycling and repurposing clothing reduces the need for new materials and decreases carbon emissions associated with the product and disposal of clothing.


Traditional clothing manufacturing consumes significant amounts of water, energy, and raw materials.

Upcycling clothing not only extends the life of existing textiles, conserving these valuable resources, but promotes more sustainable consumption patterns.


Creative Expression

Upcycling clothes and other materials encourages creative freedom by transforming old clothes into unique, personalised garments.

Upcycling and sewing fosters innovation and encourages people to experiment with designs, creating one-of-a-kind items that reflect personal style and creativity.

Cost Effective

Upcycling clothing can be very cost-effective by reducing money spent purchasing new clothes but can also assist charities when clothes are purchased second hand from charities.

Quality and Longevity

Repairing and mending clothing enhances the longevity of existing garments, giving them longevity in your wardrobe and limiting the need to purchase new clothes.  This contrasts with fast fashion items, which are frequently designed for short-term use.