Saturday Sewing: quick, easy and inexpensive Upcycled Summer Beach Bag

Here’s a super-quick and easy project, one which won’t break the bank. I’ve been wanting to tackle this for quite some time, actually, so now seems the perfect time!

How about turning a bathroom floor mat, or even a small toss rug, or placemat into a cute little tote? I had this bathmat kicking around in my linen closet for probably a few years now, so, since it wasn’t being used for it’s intended purpose, why not upcycle into something useful and fun?IMG_0103I thought this bathmat would make a great beach/ pool tote since it’s water-proof; out of a foamy/vinyl-like material and is perforated to let the excess water through. Great for wet swimsuits, snorkeling gear, etc. After a day at the beach, all the sand can be washed away with the garden hose, or a quick rinse in the sink.IMG_0102Though summer is several months away from the time I write this, it’s always inspiring to me to have something positive to look forward to, and I can’t wait to use this tote bag when camping this summer. As you can see, Rebecca is ready to hit the beach, too! In her bag, her Janome MC 9450 Workbook will make for some great reading while soaking up the rays, lol! IMG_0104This bathmat came from a well known discount store which operates nationally, so you’re sure to find something similar wherever you live. (Since the store sells food and cleaning products, it’s deemed an essential business during COVID-19 and is currently open for business). It was all of $3 and measures 17.7″ x 27.5″, but really any size will do. I drew marks 5″ in from each long side as a placement line for the straps. I didn’t have a pattern for this; I just made it up as I went along (as I do with so many things I sew) so you can use whatever measurement you feel works best for the size of mat/ rug you’re using.


Two of my favourite marking tools – Clover’s HERA marker, which produces a faint crease line in the material, and Clover’s Chaco Liner, which comes in a few colours; Yellow is my favourite as it really stands out. It’s always good to do a test to see what works best for the project at hand.

I had the blue polypropylene webbing on-hand, so it was an ideal choice for straps. You could make your own from vinyl, or even from cotton fabric, though cotton would absorb water and take longer to dry. I’d like to try some with twine, or some kind of rope cording for a different look. Sew many possibilities!

To make construction easier, I cut two straps 55″ long, as I wanted them long enough to go over the shoulder, but you cut yours however long you feel works best for your size tote bag. I folded the bag in half to find the centre, and marked 1″ up from the ends of each strap as a guide for overlapping the two halves together. I didn’t use pins to hold the straps in place while I sewed, I just guided them next to the placement line I made earlier. You likely could get a pin through this bathmat material, but, maybe try a few dots of fabric glue, or a double-sided basting tape, instead.  IMG_0106


I folded over 1″ on the edge of one strap and lined it up with the corresponding 1″ mark on the opposite strap. The mark on the straps is positioned at the centre of the bag.

Sewing on the Janome Continental M7P is an absolute dream as the heavy-duty horsepower motor, coupled with the glorious 13.5″ throat space makes quick, easy work of everything I throw at it. I used a new Janome Red Tip (size14) needle, as I do for the majority of my sewing.

One of my all-time favourite presser feet is the Twin/Dual AcuFeed Flex foot holder and AD foot, which comes standard with the Janome Continental M7P. Many Janome machines have AcuFeed or AcuFeed Flex, which I always describe as a walking foot on steroids, but the various AcuFeed and AcuFeed Flex feet, like the UD/ Open Toe AcuFeed Flex foot which I also used for improved visibility at the needle, are also available in separate blister packs from your Janome dealer. SO powerful, especially when used on the Janome Continental M7P as it has a separate motor for the AcuFeed feeding system. Brilliant! It easily helped feed the thicker, bulkier, stickier layers of the bathmat with no trouble whatsoever. IMG_0108

IMG_0099After the straps are sewn, simply fold the mat in half to sew the side seams together. Here’s a perfect opportunity to use binder clips (in Red of course, for Janome, lol!) or my absolute favourite, Clover’s Wonder Clips! These are great for anywhere you don’t want a pin hole, or simply can’t pin, like in leather, or you’re dealing with thick, bulky layers, like these two layers of the spongey bathmat. IMG_0109Starting a seam in thick, bulky fabric/ layers can present a bit of a challenge, but it’s likely NOT a machine issue! No need to curse at the machine and threaten to throw it out the window. (Come on! We’ve all been there! lol!)

So far, I haven’t found ANYTHING which hasn’t fed easily through the Janome Continental M7P,  but I shot this little video with some trouble-shooting tips in case you find your fabric/ material isn’t feeding as beautifully through your machine as it should.

Check out the link HERE, for a post I wrote previously on Janome Life about using the Button Shank Plate, which comes with many of our machines, and is also available in a separate blister pack from your Janome dealer. To find which dealers may be open for shipping, or curb-side pick-up, write to for more information. Click on the link HERE for more tips of heavy-duty sewing.

Other tips: increasing the length of your stitch to accommodate for the extra depth/ thickness of the material. I sewed the bathmats using 2.4 stitch length, but, for thicker layers; when quilting through fabric and batting, for example, I often increase the stitch length to 3.0.

Another tip, lighten the pressure of the presser foot, so the layers feed more smoothly. Consult your machine manual for more information how to do so.

I hope you enjoyed this post making a quick and easy upcycled tote bag. This will be one of the projects featured in an upcoming tote bag class we’ll have at our fabulous new Janome Sewing and Learning Centre in Oakville, ON. Write me at to be put on the mailing list for all the upcoming fun! You can also check out more videos at the Janome Sewing and Learning Centre channel on You Tube.

Happy Sewing!

About janomeman

As Janome Canada's National Consumer Education Manager, I'm SEW excited to share my love of sewing, quilting and all things creative with everyone at our fabulous new Janome Sewing and Learning Centre in Oakville, ON. Have an idea for a class, or to be put onto our mailing list, E-mail me at
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4 Responses to Saturday Sewing: quick, easy and inexpensive Upcycled Summer Beach Bag

  1. Patricia Hyles says:

    Quick question unrelated.. I also use a Chaco liner however I have wondered if it washes out or becomes permanent if it is ironed over.


    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Patricia,

      Is that the one with powder and a little wheel? If so, I have not had problems with the one I use that is supposed to disappear when ironed. Not sure they all do. Definitely not all Frixion pens disappear completely depending on colour and fabric type it was used on. You need to do a test on a scrap. Or check the instructions on the container or go online and investigate. Sorry, not sure which one you have. I don’t use these much. My “go to” marker is a different one with ink and is washaway: called Heirloom. But I know we all have our own personal preferences.



  2. debra harrower says:

    What is the p on the continental m7? I have never seen this designation before. We have referred to it as m7 only.


    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Debra,

      Professional. That is its official name: Janome Continental M7 Professional. But most just say M7. It is one of the models in our Professional line of machine models.


      Liked by 1 person

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