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5 Ways to Turn a Placemat into a Purse

Make bags and purses of all shapes and sizes with these photo tutorials.


Cloth placemats are the perfect candidates for bags and purses. These swatches of fabric are often made out of beautiful material, can be made of many layers, and there is always more than one to use for your projects. With already-finished edges, they make quick projects for avid sewers and easy projects for beginners. Since placemats are often seasonal, there are always some on sale in the bargain bin.

It is easy to embellish flat pieces of fabric with applique patches, beads and sequins before sewing, but often placemats are already tricked out by the manufacturer. It's like having a ready-made template for your new purses and bags. Here are a few of the ways that I've turned placemats into purses.

1. Single Placemat Purse

Easy Placemat Purse
Rain Blanken
This is my fastest placemat purse tutorial, using just one placemat, three lines of stitches, and a store-bought handle that is easy to attach.

You can use a bamboo handle, like I did, for a summer look, or go with something of a darker handle to match those jewel-toned placemats that arrive in stores for holiday place settings.

2. Round Placemat Beach Bag

Make a Placemat Beach Bag
Rain Blanken
Take your placemat poolside with this cute round tote. Round placemats are just the right size for holding sunglasses, flip flops and even a saucy romance novel. The edges of round placemats are already finished, so the sewing is no-sweat.

You will need two round placemats for this project, at the bare minimum. I didn't add a closure to mine, but a swatch of velcro at the top would work just fine for this casual bag.

3. Placemat Clutch

Make a Placemat Clutch Bag
Rain Blanken
A small clutch purse is a great option for evenings out, or day trips when you don't want to lug around your real (as in, real heavy) purse.

This placemat clutch uses a clever folding technique to turn a single round placemat into a small bag. I took mine on an adventure in Kentucky, and it was perfect for holding my lip gloss and lots of tourist trap brochures. Since this is a light purse, you can add a wispy scarf as a strap to turn it into a mini handbag.

4. Flat Bottom Bag

Make a Flat-Bottomed Placemat Bag
Rain Blanken
Some bags were meant to hold a lot. Flat-bottomed bags add another dimension to your carrying power, and are perfect for groceries and large objects.

I created this flat-bottomed bag to hold our fruits and veggies for us while on a camping trip. It made the perfect bag/bowl at the picnic table. While mine doesn't have a strap, you can add one to make this a bag that works at the grocery store, or just add a zipper to make a hefty purse.

You will need two thick placemats for this project.

5. Laptop Tote

Make a Laptop Bag from a Placemat
Rain Blanken
Carrying your laptop can be a hassle. A laptop bag is a must-have for any mobile web surfer, and you can make one just your style with a couple of thick placemats.

These large placemats are ideal for decorating with patches before you sew them together. Mine already came patched up, but I think next time I'll make a big patch that looks like... a laptop.

Sturdy placemats and double stitching are a must for this bag. and don't skip out on the zipper. Security and durability is key here.

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