Military Uniform Tote November 11, 2011 – Posted in: Sewing, Tutorials

Happy Veterans Day! Today I have a really special project to share. And since I grew up an Army brat, this one is near and dear to my heart.

Usually I share projects I make for my friends. But this time I was contacted by a friend who was making the bag for one of her friends. She wanted some help on construction so I documented our process to share. I love this idea and I’m completely excited with how it all turned out!

These totes are all the rage with military wives and Moms and with an ACU jacket and a few hours, you can have your own!

We had to buy few materials to make our bag–just lining fabric, thread, and ribbon–the rest was recycled from the uniform. The bag is 15″ wide, 10″ tall and 4″ deep.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t sew anything on this bag. My friend did all the sewing, I just did the math, some seam ripping, some pinning, and the picture taking.)

We removed the pockets we wanted to use: two from the arms, one from the chest, the pen pocket from the arm, and a tab from the wrist.

Then we cut the main body of the bag 20″ by 13″. We cut our pieces from 2 uniforms, but if you’re creative, you could get them both from the same jacket.

Apply medium weight fusible interfacing to the back of the outsides.

We cut 2 pieces the same size from the lining fabric.

And cut 2 pieces approximately 4.5″ wide and 26″ long for the straps.

We started by sewing the straps. Fold right sides together and sew down the length of each strap. Using a safety pin, turn them right side out, press, and top stitch down each side.

Then using the breast pocket and pen pocket, we placed them on one of the lining pieces and stitched down. Cut 2.5″ squares out of each bottom corner for your bag bottom and sides.

Assemble the lining, leaving a hole to turn the finished bag through.

Place the two remaining pockets on the front of the bag, stitching them on as well. Again, cut 2.5″ squares for the bottom and sides.

Then sew the outsides together.

Pin the straps to the outside of the bag on each side.

With right sides together, put the outside inside the lining and pin. Sew around the top to attach the lining to the bag, catching the handles.

Turn the bag through the hole you left in the lining, close the hole, and top stitch around the top of the bag.

Make little belt loops using scraps 1.5″ wide and about 2″ long. Sew them to the front.

Sew the ribbon at the side seams, feeding it through the loops and tying it into a bow. I tacked the bow to the bag by hand to secure it in place.

Lastly, take the tab from the sleeve and sew it to the front of the bag and attach the velcro to the outside on the back to secure it.

That’s it! Simple, precious, and totally customizable for the soldier you love.


A special thank you to all our veterans for your service. I’m grateful for your sacrifices and proud to be an American!