Handled Storage Tote

knitting-toteDesigner: Sheila Sinclair Snyder

Need a place to stash your stuff? Whip up a handled bag by stitching together sweater-wrapped clothesline.


  • Approximately 100′ of 14“-wide clothesline
  • Old sweaters: various shades of gray, various bright colors
  • Sewing thread: gray


Finished size: 8″ tall (with handles) × 17″ wide

Assemble the Tote:

1. Cut old sweaters into 114“-wide strips, cutting each as long as possible. Wrap a dark gray strip clockwise around the beginning of the clothesline, overlapping the strip along the length.

2. Fold the covered clothesline over on itself 10” from the end. Referring to How-To Sew a Cord Coilbelow, and using gray sewing thread, sew between the clothesline rows along the 10″ length to begin the bag bottom. Continue adding gray sweater strips and coiling the clothesline to make an approximately 3×11″ oval coil for the bag bottom. Do not trim clothesline.

3. To begin the bag sides, lay the wrapped clothesline over the top of the outermost row of oval coil. Shift the base under the sewing machine foot so the oval is flipped up slightly on the left side of the foot. Continue sewing between the rows, adding sweater strip wraps, and coiling the clothesline on top of the base.

4. Where desired, add strips of light gray to make horizontal rows around bag sides. Add random, brightly colored short strips as desired.

5. When the bag sides reach approximately 7″ tall, add a handle to one wide side by leaving a 7″-long portion of the covered cording unstitched. Shape the handle as desired, leaving a gap between the coil and the handle. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the handle where it attaches to the coil for extra reinforcement.

6. Continue sewing the coil until you reach the opposite side. Repeat Step 4 to add a handle opposite the first handle.

7. Continue sewing one more complete round around bag sides, adding a second layer to each handle.

8. Trim cord to end along the top of a bag side near the base of a handle. Wrap a sweater strip onto the cord, extending the wraps past the end of the cord by 1″; trim strip if necessary. Finish sewing the covered cord to the coil, reinforcing at the end with backstitches.

How to Sew a Cord Coil:

1. For a round base, coil one end of the cord tightly around itself a few times until the coil is the size of a quarter.



2. While holding coil firmly, place the coil under your sewing machine’s zigzag foot with the cord extending off the right side toward you. Use a wide zigzag to stitch between the cording rows, catching the cording on both sides to hold it together.

3. Slowly rotate the coils counterclockwise as you zigzag-stitch in between the rows. For long continuous curves, you may wish to switch to an open toe sewing machine foot. Tilt coil as you stitch to build sides.


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