How To: Retro Placemat Bag

Transform a pair of vintage linen placemats into a retro style bag with bamboo handles. Only minimal sewing is required in this vintage style refashion.

Retro Placemat Bag - Remake old placemats into a handbag

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I come across so many beautiful vintage linens in my op-shopping (thrifting) adventures, but I rarely seem to use them for their original purpose. These linen placemats with their geometric retro design, I’m particularly taken by. I’ve had them for years, waiting for the perfect project, but could never bare to cut into them.

Whilst tidying up my sewing space I uncovered a set of vintage bamboo bag handles, then the perfect project came to mind.

This bag only took me a few minutes to construct. With no cutting and only three seams required, one can be whipped up at short notice to match any outfit.

You will need:

  • 2 x cotton or linen placemats (hemmed)
  • 1 x set of cane/bamboo bag handles with screw in rod – similar to these
  • Sewing machine and general sewing supplies

How to make a Handbag from Vintage Placemats:

Retro Placemat Bag - Remake old placemats into a handbag

1. Gather your supplies. Similar handles are available on Etsy and at craft supply stores if you don’t have vintage ones available.

2. Face placemats with right sides together and sew along dotted line. Make sure you double stitch the ends of seams.

3. On the top of the bag, iron over a hem of about 1cm (1/2″) then stitch top form a tube (leave ends open).

4. Turn inside out, and feed rod of handle through the tube.

All done!

Quite a professional finish for so little work. Now I just need an occasion to use it, and when I want my placemats back, all it will take is a little seam un-picking and a really good iron.

Retro Placemat Bag - Remake old placemats into a handbag

Retro Placemat Bag - Remake old placemats into a handbag

Do you have any old placemats that could do with a transformation?


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