Sewing hack: how to make an upcycled beach bag

Get ready for the holidays by transforming last year’s scarf into this year’s beach bag – Tasha Chapman shows us how.

You will need:

  • Scarf, at least 65cm (25 5/8″) square
  • Twisted cotton rope, 1cm (3/8″) thick, 2m (2yrd)
  • Two metal eyelets
  • Eyelet setting kit
  • Hammer
  • Yarn or embroidery thread
  • Large embroidery needle
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Sturdy metal comb

How to create the beach bag

Embrace laid-back boho style with this easy project. Grab a scarf – ours was a lightweight linen but you can use any type – and transform into an embellished bag. If you don’t have a scarf then any square piece of fabric will do – just finish the edges off first. Bandanas also work well. Experiment with lots of tassels, colour and embellishments too.

Step 1

Fold the scarf in half, top corners together and the sides lined up.  Stitch up both sides.

Step 2

Mark where your eyelet will go on each top corner. We put ours about 2-3cm (¾-1¼”) down from the top and over from the side.

Step 3

Cut a round hole, large enough to fit the taller portion of the eyelet, through both layers of fabric. Set the eyelet in place following the directions on your kit. The fabric should be sandwiched between the two pieces of the eyelet. It’s best to hammer on a sturdy, solid surface such as a table or the floor. Repeat on the other corner.

Step 4

Thread the cotton rope through the eyelet, in through the back and out of the front of the bag, on both corners. Wrapping the raw edges of the rope with tape stops them unravelling and makes it easy to fit them through the holes.

Step 5

Adjust the length of rope according to how long you want your strap. You can leave it longer for a cross body bag or make it shorter for a shoulder bag. Tie a basic knot on each side to secure.

Step 6

Now it’s time to make the tassels. There should be two long sections of rope hanging from each side of your bag. Trim this rope to the length you’d like your tassel to be – we made ours as long as the sides of the bag.

Step 7

Begin untwisting the rope and combing out the tassel. Work in sections and continue combing until it’s all untangled. Be patient – it could take a few minutes of combing before a nice, fluffy tassel appears. Work slowly. You might also find it helpful to iron the rope straight after combing each section. Finish it off by gathering together and trimming the bottom into an even, straight line.

Step 8

If you want, add some colourful wrapping to your tassels. Take a long length of yarn or embroidery thread and tie it onto the rope. Weave the knot and loose end of thread into the rope and then start wrapping around it. Continue wrapping until you’ve covered as much of the rope as you’d like. If you run out of yarn or want to change colours just knot two pieces together, weave the loose ends back into the rope and continue on.

Step 9

At the end, tie the yarn into another knot around the rope. Weave the loose end back into the wrapping using a large needle, then trim it off. If you want, repeat the process on the top of the tassels for even more decoration.


About Tasha Chapman

Illustrator and maker Tasha lives by the sea in South Florida. Her company, Chapman at Sea, was created to offer durable, stylish, utilitarian surf and beach bags to ocean lovers everywhere. Tasha spends her days sewing, surfing and searching the internet for pictures about sewing and surfing.