Japanese Knot Bag Upcycled From A Men’s Shirt


Japanese knot bag from men’s shirt

Check out my new little bag! Cute, huh? I love the Dickies pocket. It was a bit of a pain in the apple to construct though. More on that in a minute.

So a little about the shirt. Last labor day weekend, the begets and I went to a street fair in the old town section by where we live. There are a bunch of antique stores and vintage shops all over the town circle. A thrift shop caught my eye. Well, actually the guy yelling out the door “Everything’s a dollar!” was what got my attention. I bought this button down shirt, a pair of men’s camo pants, and a striped t-shirt all with the purpose of upcycling each item into something life altering.

And in true Crafty Coup style, I stashed it away somewhere and forgot about it until today!


About the pattern…I’m planning my sister’s bachelorette party and I want to make little pouches (SWAG bags = Stuff We All Get bags – I just learned that) to put the SWAG goodies in. It’s going to be a poolside party at a swanky old-Hollywood-type hotel. The pouches will have travel size sunscreen, a couple of aspirin, a pack of gum – a sort of bachelorette survival kit of sorts. Walk of Shame, I’ll be there!

I found this pattern and tutorial on Martha Stewart’s site. There’s even a video from when they made it on the show which was completely useless not helpful for my intents.  There are about three or so free patterns for a Japanese knot bag out there in Pinterest land and this is the one I like best despite the fact that it came from a convicted felon. I’m a progressive equal opportunity crafter AND the pattern is free.

Rather than increasing the print size of the pattern to the suggested 200%, I increased it to a little more than 150% to make it more of a pouch rather than a purse. Maybe this is where things started to go south.  Anyway, I needed it to fit on these cute polka-dotted fat quarters I’ve had stashed somewhere been saving for just this occasion (yup, I just found those, too).

So before committing to actually cutting up my polka dots, I opted to experiment with the pattern and tutorial with this shirt. I also like the pocket. And I figured I can get away without sewing one since the shirt conveniently already had one. Genius, I know.

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Well, everything went along swimmingly until the instructions said to sew the outer fabric and the lining fabric “armholes” or the outer edges of the straps of the bag to each other. The curves were so tight on the smaller strap, my machine was like – um, nuh uh. No amount of pressing was going to force those seams to lay flat. I think about after 15 minutes of cursing, 30 minutes of ripping out threads, and a pound of sweat later, I forced it to work. I assume one would not have the same trouble if one would increase the size of the pattern to the suggested 200%. Ah, hindsight truly is 20/20.


Everything else up to that point was easy and straight forward. You can only see the mistakes up close. Or if you’re the sewing police (like my mom).

On the bright side, I know I won’t be making that same mistake twice. I’ll experiment with sewing up a good portion of the “armholes” and just only wrangle with the top portions of the seams to close. Another attempt awaits!

I still have a lot of fabric from the shirt left over. Hmmm…what to make?

What projects were a pain to make but worth it in the end?


6 thoughts on “Japanese Knot Bag Upcycled From A Men’s Shirt

  1. You are brilliant. I’d never heard of a Japanese knot bag but I think you did an amazing job. I also love Martha’s recipes and the fact that she was made an example of has never bothered me. 🙂

  2. Pingback: DIY Upcycled Men’s T-Shirt into a Mini Skirt | The Crafty Coup

  3. Pingback: Doll Clothes for an American Girl or Doll Clothes for an American Girl who owns an 18 inch doll | The Crafty Coup

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