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Textured Textile Tote Bags

Sponsored by
Close up of tote bag with colorful marker design and embroidered


Recommended for ages 7 and up with adult supervision.


Let Mode Brut inspired tote bags carry craft and design practices into the new year! Highlighting the tactical expertise of Creativity Explored (CE) artists, tote bags are proudly displayed as part of CE’s Studio Line in the museum.

This [email protected] project invites participants to craft functional fashion that will accompany any outfit. Sustainability in the fashion industry is an underlying theme of Mode Brut, with the majority of garments having been made of reused and recycled fabrics. In that spirit, this project challenges participants to dig into the pantry or backseat to reimagine and transform existing bags from your inevitable tote hoard.

Flex the textile techniques you’ve learned throughout Mode Brut to create a tote design unique to you!


Found tote bag

Suggested textile alteration materials:

  • Needle
  • Embroidery floss
  • Embroidery ring (Optional)
  • Sharpies or fabric markers
  • Scissors 
  • Fabric patches
  • Fabric glue
  • Dye


  • Think about your design! What tools and materials do you have at your disposal? How can you use them to embellish your tote bag and make it stand out? Get inspired by our design prompts below!
  • Draw directly onto the fabric using sharpies and/or fabric markers.
  • Embroider the fabric of the tote bag. Check out Katherine Finn-Gamino’s Felt Embroidered Flowers for embroidery tips and ideas!
    OPTIONAL: Use the embroidery loop to hold the fabric in place.

    • Position the larger ring onto the outside of the fabric bag and fit the smaller loop into the larger loop while inside the bag. Tighten the embroidery ring.
  • Recycle old favorite t-shirts by cutting out the logo or image and sewing or gluing it onto the tote.
  • Make a pocket from a scrap piece of upholstery fabric or repurpose a pocket from an old pair of jeans. Sew or glue it onto the tote.
  • Create a super tote by cutting 2 totes open, or in half, and sewing them together!
  • Use fabric dye and some rubber bands to transform your project with the shibori techniques shown in JD Green’s Textile Transformations!


  • Feeling like you’ve got this in the bag? Make a drawstring bag, duffel bag, or fanny pack from reused fabrics. 
  • Tote bags are a greener alternative to plastic bags but their overproduction has its own environmental impact. Craft sustainably by embellishing an existing bag and read Grace Cook’s New York Times article The Cotton Tote Crisis to learn more.   
  • Read Anni Irish’s  A History of the Humble Tote Bag article on Racked to learn more about tote bag designs through the ages.


Share your project! Post and tag #MCDatHome


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