Recycled Tote Bag from a Framed Cross Stitch

Recycled Tote Bag from a Framed Cross Stitch

Framed cross stitch pieces are something I see at thrift stores all the time. And while there are modern versions of cross stitch that have become very popular (with sassy sayings), the older ones seem to get tossed in the donation pile. When I found this 1980s-era country cross stitch, I immediately thought that it would look SO CUTE as a recycled tote bag for grocery (or farmer’s market) shopping.

country cross stitch

All I needed to do was pair it with the right bag.

And when I found this burlap tote bag with someone else’s name embroidered on it, it seemed like destiny to marry the two together.

burlap tote bag

My plan was to repurpose the framed cross stitch into something that would cover the embroidery on the burlap bag. And if all went as planned, I’d have a recycled tote bag to use at the farmer’s market or grocery store!

making a recycled tote bag

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Making an Eco Friendly Bag

First, I removed the the vintage cross stitch from the frame to see what I was working with, size-wise.

I assumed it would fit well on my jute tote bag, but I wouldn’t know for sure until it had been unframed.

repurposing a framed cross stitch

As you can see, the aida cloth of the framed cross stitch had discolored over time. The perimeter (where the blue mat had framed the actual cross stitch design) was quite dark compared to the rest.

So, I used that fade line to carefully cut out the cross stitch graphic. After that, I planned to use coordinating grosgrain ribbon as a border for the cross stitch.

cutting out a framed cross stitch

The grosgrain ribbon would also conceal and protect the cut or raw edges of the aida cloth, as well. Double duty!

Then, I realized that fabric tape would come in handy. Not only to act as a fray-stopper for the aida cloth, but also to help keep the border ribbon in place while pinning and stitching.

However, I wasn’t patient enough to stop everything and head to the fabric store, so I grabbed some double-sided tape instead, which worked just as well!

ribbon border on a vintage cross stitch

After taping down my ribbon, I stitched it to the cross stitch with my sewing machine. When that was said and done, I pinned the entire panel to the front of the recycled tote bag.

Bye-bye, Chatsworth embroidery! You are all covered up.

vintage cross stitch on a burlap tote bag

And yes, I used my secret pincushion teapot a LOT with this upcycling project. Honestly, I use it every time I sew!

After the panel was perfectly centered and pinned in place, I hand-stitched it to the burlap tote bag. Because the bag was already constructed, it was a lot easier to hand stitch it than wrestle it into my sewing machine.

Ready to see my eco friendly bag when I was all finished?

Recycled Tote Bag from a Framed Cross Stitch

Just like that, I had recycled tote bag with the perfect design for a farmer’s market or grocery run!

eco friendly bag for grocery shopping

Eco friendly bags are one of the easiest ways I know of to use less plastic. And I’m always looking to cut down on my plastic waste. 

And a reusable shopping bag that has been emblazoned by upcycling a counted cross stitch from the thrift store? Even better because it’s SO personalized and one-of-a-kind!

upcycling a framed cross stitch on a recycled tote bag

You know I’m going to be looking for more food and farm related cross stitch pieces now! I want to add more recycled shopping bags like this to my collection!

recycled tote bag from a framed cross stitch

AND I’m so excited to announce that my first book is now available! If you love working with flannel or fabric crafts in general (sewing and non-sewing), then you will LOVE “Crafting with Flannel”!

Craft book on flannel fabric

For more upcycled and DIY bag options, you may also be interested in this collection of project ideas, as well!

diy bags and upcycled bags

Craft on!


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country cross stitch on a recycled tote bag

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. omg you did it again!! Very clever and useable!

  2. cynthia wilson says

    Just want to say: Five Stars (*****) on your Fresh Eggs tote bag!!! Recently discovered your site and LOVE it! Thanks for sharing such fun with others.

  3. Patty Soriano says

    Love this idea! Hubby got a great burlap swag bag at some sort of work-related event. But it had a business logo on it. ugh. I’ve been thinking of mod podging something over it, but I really like this so much better! I have a vintage needlepoint piece that I’ve been saving for something and this is a brilliant use for it! Thanks for sharing!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Oh yes, this is perfect for the swag bags from conferences! But shhh, don’t tell the companies that are handing them out. It’ll be our little secret. 😉

  4. Love this idea and it repurposes two things!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Yes! I should go back and see if they have more bags like that…it was like a monogramming shop sold them their “mistake” bags, so they had a bunch that were perfect for covering over!

  5. That is just so clever and re-purposes someones hard work. It really turned out cute. Now I’ll see cross stitch items in a new light!

  6. Love the marriage of the cross stitch and the tote. So fashionable, too.

  7. I always check out old needlework and admire all the work that went into creating the piece. Excellent idea to repurpose and now, you have an empty frame. Don’t know how I missed your pincushion in the teapot,l love that idea. I then had to check out Cottonball and was reading the comments about cats and string. One day, my problem boy, Steve ate a rather long cotton ribbon which fortunately came out without problems, but it could have been deadly. Scared the heck out of me, since I realized it could be deadly.
    Clever lady, how is Cottonball?

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      He is still the most “helpful” blog apprentice ever! He was very interested in the ribbon I used for this bag, too. 😉 And I’m very glad to hear that Steve passed his ribbon snack without issue- what a relief!!

  8. Hilary Milner says

    Chatsworth just happens to be the name of a town in Los Angeles county. I would have loved to have found that bag! Haha!

  9. I find vintage needle work a lot too while thrifting. You repurposed this piece beautifully.

  10. Linda Nelson says

    How sweet…… and thrifty!

  11. Sarah, Wow, this is the best market tote bag upcycle ever!!! You will get a lot of attention sporting this bag at the market!!!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you!!! I can use it now, of course, but yeah…I’m REALLY looking forward to using it this summer!

  12. What a great idea!! This turned out super cute.

  13. acraftymix says

    That’s such a neat idea Sarah. I always stop to admire cross stitch pieces just because I know how much work often goes into them and it does make me a little sad that all that work is donated but I’ve never bought any of the pieces. Using it to transform a burlap sack is really cool and now someone’s handy work can be appreciated all over again.

  14. The burlap bag and the cross stitch were meant for each other – perfect marriage of thrift store finds, Sarah!

  15. Charleen Adams says

    Miss Sadie you have done it again!!!!!What a crenative idea. Now I am going. to be on the hunt for needlework to repurpose. Keep up the good ideas and work.

  16. Thank you for sharing. I think it’s very pretty! I think I would have used a more neutral color to frame the aida cloth, like a tan or burnt orange, to go with the color of the burlap. I know there is blue in the aida cloth, but I think a brown/orange color could have been a good complimentary choice as well.

  17. So pretty! Your blog really hits my sweet spot. I love thrifting, and crafting, and putting to good use what I thrift and craft. And to see it laid out in such beautiful pictures and dialogue makes me happy. So your bag is six months old now, have you found that the needlecraft is getting dirty or scuffed? How would you clean it I wonder…

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Actually, a friend’s husband bought the bag because she loved it so much, LOL- so I need to find out from her how it’s doing! 😀

  18. Super cute! I love old embroidery too. And I tend to buy them as well. This is a great way to upcycle them!

  19. What a sweet idea! A beautiful way to hold on to a work of art from hands that created it. I love this idea! Thank you for sharing!

  20. Looks beautiful! Love the blue ribbon frame! I’m going to try this with a friend’s cross stitch. I was going to make a tote bag, but so much easier to buy one! What width is the ribbon?

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Hi, Darlene! Hmm…this project is several years old now, and I sold the bag shortly after the post was published. I *think* it was 3/4″, but I’m not 100% certain of that.

  21. Kathy A says

    So cute. i, too, buy counted cross stitch and old embroidered pictures when they are reasonable. I don’t believe how many people spend HOURS embroidering them, then do a lousy job framing them. Professional framing is out of site. I love pressing them, tightenening them up, and reframing a now beautiful picture–or turn it into a pillow top. Making a bag NEVER would have occurred to me!

  22. Genius idea! I love it!!! The bag is soooo cute now!!! OMG I loove your teapot pin cushion!!!! There are so many beautiful teapots out there, but I’m not going to use anything that’s not lead free around food. This is a perfect way to use a gorgeous old teapot you can’t pass up!!!! Amazing! Xoxo!

  23. Molly Jo says

    so glad I followed links to find this old post. Great idea, so fun! I read a lot of your posts, love how your creative brain thinks!


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