Cargo non-embargo! – Men’s cargo shorts upcycled into a reversible bag

These were my hubby’s cargo shorts. Sure, they had some good laughs, a couple of capers, a story for the campfire. Overall, good times had.


Then one day, they had a falling out. Actually, my hubby’s backside fell out. Needless to say, they parted ways.


Like the dentist’s niece in Finding Nemo, I was like “GIMME! GIMME! GIMME!”

Then this materialized!


Upcycled camo cargo shorts into reversible bag

And here’s what the inside looks like. It’s from scrap fabric from a curtain.  Both fabrics are a thicker material so I opted for no interfacing.


I wanted to make a bag that was not the typical-run-of-the-mill tote. Don’t get me wrong, I love the tote as much as the next gal, however, I was looking for something more “handbag-y” or “purse-y” and less “tote-y”**. I found this amazing pattern on Pinterest  on (a very lovely blog about sewing). Consequently, I was inspired.


Reversible bag

Using the pattern available on the site, I generally followed the same directions provided with a few modifications. The cargo shorts weren’t quite long enough to accommodate the straps of the bag. I cut separate pieces for the straps, sewed them on to the main body of the bag and top-stitched the seam.


Mind you, I had to cut one of the straps for each side of the bag on the bias which to some purist sewists is a no-no because you don’t want your straps to stretch and get distorted. But I say, down with antidisestablishmentarianism, and just do it! Besides, my lining fabric is pretty sturdy in that of itself, so I made a judgment call and went for it. I’ve been using the bag for a few days now and I haven’t had any issues with the straps becoming distorted or seams coming undone.

Because of the bulkiness of the pockets, it is important to leave a larger gap in one of the straps so that turning the right sides out doesn’t rip the seams in the process. The instructions suggest at least 20 cm for a gap. If you want to use cargo shorts like mine, I suggest 25-30 cm.


My bag has 7 pockets! Seriously, even the pockets have pockets. I didn’t sew a single one. It’s insane, I know.


4 pockets here!


3 pockets here!

As any true upcyclist would tell you, don’t forget to save the notions. I salvaged a good button and a zipper.



I’m feenin’ for another pair of cargo shorts to cut up! For the next bag, I think I’ll make the straps just a couple of inches longer as I would like it to hang a bit longer under my arm. Other than that, I love this design!

**If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between a handbag and a purse is as I have, there isn’t one, unless you’re hoity toity. And then the answer is “about a thousand dollars”. A tote is a really large pouch.

6 thoughts on “Cargo non-embargo! – Men’s cargo shorts upcycled into a reversible bag

  1. My husband just gave me several pairs of shorts he doesn’t want any more! Some of them are cargo shorts. I’ve seen several tutes for making bags out of pants but yours is the first I’ve seen that uses SHORTS. And sooo cute! Thank you so much for this!

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