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How to Make A Washcloth Travel Tote

Updated on August 17, 2015

Washcloth Travel Totes for the Family

I was first introduced to the concept of a traveling tote almost fifteen years ago. Looking through a magazine I ran across an article for a craft. With some alterations I came up with my version of the Washcloth Traveling Tote.

Back then I didn't have a sewing machine and made quite of few of these little gifts by hand. Now I can make one in about 30 - 40 minutes depending on the size.

My little companion has traveled quite a bit and lasted for years. When I fly I usually freshen up before landing. I like the fact that I am using a clean linen of my own, with the things I use on a regular basis. It's washable, reusable and economical all while meeting my hygiene needs when I'm away from home.

You can make this craft for your family and friends by following the step-by-step instructions on this site. When you are finished you may be interested in some of my other articles and social sites.

Photo by Favored1

Copyrighted Material by Favored1. Do not copy. Photo credit byFavored1 or Amazon unless otherwise noted. This artwork is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.


Photo by Favored1
Photo by Favored1
Graccioza Pure Colour 14 by 14 Washcloth, Blue
Graccioza Pure Colour 14 by 14 Washcloth, Blue

Choose from 17 colors with a wide hem. Soft with superior absorbency.

Made of 100 percent cotton; machine wash and dry.

 

Extra Large Washcloths - This is actually a better size to make this project.

You can make this project using 12x12 inch, 13x13 inch or 14x14 inch washcloths.

I have found the 14 inch ones work best because it makes a longer pouch, but the other sizes also work out especially for a child's pouch.

These work great for every member of the family if they are a different color. If making several it's best to purchase them in a packet of 6 or more, because it is much less expensive.

For more selection see below.

Poll: Bon Voyage

Have you ever heard of a washcloth travel tote?

See results
U.S. Polo Assn. 100-Percent Egyptian Cotton Wash Cloth, 13-Inch by 13-Inch, Nirvana Purple
U.S. Polo Assn. 100-Percent Egyptian Cotton Wash Cloth, 13-Inch by 13-Inch, Nirvana Purple

Luxurious feel that gets softer as it is washed.

They don't even need fabric softener, so that helps save even more. Pick from 18 colors.

 
100% Organic Cotton Luxury Wash Cloth- Made Here by 1888 Mills (4pk)
100% Organic Cotton Luxury Wash Cloth- Made Here by 1888 Mills (4pk)

You'll like this 100 % organic cotton bargain bundle. Durable plus oversized

which is perfect to make this craft. There are four colors to choose from: Earth brown, stone gray, water blue and the leaf green as seen here.

 

Sewing on the Shoelace

Step 1 - Sewing on the Shoelace - Instructions for a 12 x 12 inch washcloth tote.

Photo credit by favored1
Photo credit by favored1

Fold up washcloth 5 inches from the bottom and pin it in place. Attach the sides together with a small safety pin.

Step 2

Photo credit by favored1
Photo credit by favored1

Fold the washcloth in half with the safety pins on the inside. The outer part of the washcloth should be showing. Fold the shoelace in half so you can see where the center will be.

Sewing Accessories - These are the items you will need for this project.

Step 3

Photo credit by favored1
Photo credit by favored1

Put a straight pin in to mark the seam 5 inches from the bottom of the fold.

This is the place (mark) where you will sew the shoelace in place.

Step 4

Photo credit by favored1
Photo credit by favored1

With a needle, pierce the shoelace at the center length so both sides are even.

Tack the shoelace in the center where you marked it with a few stitches to hold it in place.

It's harder to sew this on after you have made the pouches, so I do it at this point.

Step 5

Photo credit by favored1
Photo credit by favored1

Use straight pins to hold the ribbon in place evenly.

Step 6

Photo credit by favored1
Photo credit by favored1

Use straight pins to hold the shoelace in place on both sides. You won't be sewing this, but it will prevent you from sewing crooked.

In the center where the pen is pointing, stitch this down by hand or machine. The sewing machine works better and holds the shoelace tighter preventing it from coming off after several uses.

Step 7

Photo credit by favored1
Photo credit by favored1

Go over this shoelace 3 x's using reverse and back. Only stitch the width of the lace.

Step 8

Photo by Favored1
Photo by Favored1

Lift the foot on the machine, but make sure the needle is still all the way down holding the material in place.

Turn the washcloth with the shoelace vertical and sew it in place. Sew one inch of the center. Reverse back to the center.

Step 9

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

Repeat the last step lifting the foot without raising the needle and sew a one inch length on the opposite side of the center point. What you have already sewn should be facing you. Basically all you are doing is making a one inch hem on both sides of the center point to secure the shoelace.

Step 10

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

See how the hem should look? I used light thread so you could see it, but you should use the color that matches the washcloth so you don't see the hem at all.

Fashionable Shoelaces - Select cotton laces 30-36 inches in length and 1/4 inch wide.

Using a silky lace won't work, because it doesn't hold a tight bow. Solid colors are more suitable and don't run when they are washed. I used a silkier lace to show you how it doesn't take a knot very well. It may look pretty, but for this project it isn't as functional.

GG-77 FLAT ATHLETIC Neon Pink 36 inch Shoelaces 2 Pair Pack
GG-77 FLAT ATHLETIC Neon Pink 36 inch Shoelaces 2 Pair Pack

Twenty-two bold fun colors to pick from for your travel tote. Flat lace is 5/16" wide.

 

Where can you use a washcloth travel tote?

Airplane

Train

Bus

Overnight trip

Road trip

Backpacking

Camping

Campus

Gym

Any place really

Sewing the Sides

Step 1 - Sides

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

Flip over the material and fold the bottom up 5 inches again just like you did in the beginning. This part is tricky. Pin the fold in place without touching the shoelace. Pull it up out of the way so it doesn't get sewn. I used a safety pin to hold it together and out of the way.

Step 2 - Sides

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

Sew both sides along the seam of the cloth. Get as close as you can without running off the edge. As you reach the ends (top and bottom) go back a forth using the reverse tool a few times to strengthen the ends.

Making the Pockets

Step 1 - Pockets

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

Put straight pins at top to hold the fold in place. This keeps the cloth from shifting so you can make even pouches.

From the left side, measure 2 and 1/4 inches (if using a 12 inch washcloth). Mark the top and bottom with laundry marker.

Be sure to keep shoelaces out of the way to avoid sewing them to the washcloth.

Move the straight pins as you progress to the right.

Trim off any threads along the way on both sides of the washcloth.

Step 2 - Pockets

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

Sew a seam from the top mark to the bottom mark.

Hold the cloth in place so it doesn't bunch up or twist on you making a crooked line.

Step 3 - Pockets

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

Measure 2 and 1/4 inches from the last seam and mark it (top and bottom). Measure 2 and1/4 inches from every seam until you have 4 seams that will make 5 pouches. When you are done you will have 5 pouches 2 and 1/4 inches wide.

If you only want 4 pouches, divide the washcloth evenly and do the same thing marking them as you go. You should have 3 seams. However, smaller pouches help to keep things snug.

Note: Remember to use a measuring tape for accuracy. I'm using a ruler to show the approximate distance from one pocket to the other.

Step 4- Pockets

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

Here I have placed toothpicks along where the seams are so you can see the width of the pouches.

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

The pockets begin below the decorative trim. You won't be able to see that from the other side.

However, you do want the distance from the top so that nothing falls out of the pouch.

Adding the Products

Fill Your Travel Tote

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

There are all sorts of things you can put in your pouches. The main thing to remember is to only put what you may need in a hurry or emergency when you do not have access to your normal toiletries. For this ladies travel tote I packed:

travel size toothbrush

travel size toothpaste with Scope mouthwash

travel size razor with cap

flat bottle of Neutrogena facial wash (1 oz)

a few bandaids

long hair pins, band, clip, comb

large zip bag for wet cloth after use

sandwich bag (to put items in after using washcloth)

several sizes of safety pins (this is a must)

Fill the Tote with Travel Sized Products

A few items for a women's travel tote.

Brother Sewing Machine LX 3125 - Carrying Case Sold Separately

This is the machine that I have. It isn't an expensive sewing machine, but it has done a fabulous job on my crafts. If you are looking for a lightweight product that is easy to transport, the Brother LX 3125 sewing machine is a good choice.

It has the ability to do 16 stitch patterns, has automatic stitch length, built in sewing light and auto wind bobbin (which I really like). But don't be fooled by its petite size, you will be able to make some really neat things with this machine.

Brother Sewing Compact Sewing Machine Fashion LX3125E
Brother Sewing Compact Sewing Machine Fashion LX3125E

Flatbed/Free arm convertible sewing surface. Lightweight and compact with built-in handle for portability, weighs 15 lbs . 35 Stitch functions; 25 year warranty included.

 
Brother 5300 Universal Sewing Machine Carrying Case
Brother 5300 Universal Sewing Machine Carrying Case

Molded from durable but lightweight plastic this 2-piece carrying and storage case fits any free-arm sewing machine. Locking metal side hinges; built-in handle; stay-clean surface. Measures 18 by 11-1/2 by 14 inches.

 

Folding the Tote

Folded without products.

Folded without products.
Folded without products.

Step1 - Folding the Tote

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

To fold your washcloth bring in each side and fold it over one another as if you were rolling in from both directions. Make sure items are as far down in the pouch as they can go. This is why you need that few extra inches from the top and why you don't want anything sticking out the top. It should be tidy and neat.

Step 2 - Folding the Tote

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

Take one shoelace and wrap it around to the right and another one to the left. You should have enough material to wrap the cloth twice. Pull it snug.

Did you use the right shoelaces?

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

Tie together like you would on a shoe making a bow.

Here I used 45" shiny laces to show you what NOT to buy.

The "fancy" laces do not hold the tie and slip out.

Cotton laces work the best and a 30-36 inch lace is sufficient.

Side View

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

All Done ... Take A Look!

Packed and Ready to Go

Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.
Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

Take A Peek

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Photo copyright by Favored1. Do Not Copy.

Final Product

So here it is.

What did it cost?

Total price was about $5.00.

Cost included:

Washcloth

Shoelaces

Facial Wash

Toothpaste/brush

Comb

Other things I had already.

This week's challenge on my: Daily Favor Blog

© 2013 Fay Favored

Did you find this easy to make? - Leave a comment or just say Hi.

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    • favored profile image
      Author

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      SusanDeppner I really liked making these as gifts. I still have mine after 15+ years. Can't say where my husband's is :)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      What a great item to make for gifts!

    • favored profile image
      Author

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      @EmmaGraceEllis LM: The video shows a little more detail of the finished product. Your girls could each have their own and design it themselves.

    • EmmaGraceEllis LM profile image

      EmmaGraceEllis LM 3 years ago

      So Crafty, I love it, and I will be attempting it!

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      What am amazing idea and a great way to use my small towels.

    • favored profile image
      Author

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      @takkhisa: it's really not hard at all, and I have no doubt you would do fine. You won't know though until you try it. Thanks for the visit.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Great idea! Maybe right now I can tell you "yes it looks easy to make" but when I would do it practically I may find it difficult as well, so I have to bookmark this page. Thanks for sharing :)

    • favored profile image
      Author

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      @kiwikitkat: You're welcome. We do like ours. It's nice to be able to wash your face with your own washcloth when traveling.

    • kiwikitkat profile image

      kiwikitkat 4 years ago

      I've never heard of this, but what a neat idea! Thank you for all the instructions.

    • profile image

      lionmom100 4 years ago

      Great idea. This is a very nice tutorial.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 4 years ago

      Very nice tutorial, with loads of step-by-step instructions. I'll have to make a washcloth travel tote for my stepson before he returns to dorm life!

    • Northerntrials profile image

      Northerntrials 4 years ago

      I would worry about losing stuff out the top but it looks handy. When I was in Scout back in the 70's I had something similar to this made of canvas that held my sewing repair kit with heavy needles and thread, a thimble and some cutters. All my camping gear at that time was home-made and hand repairable. Not like in today's disposable society. I modeled my kit after one my Dad had and he called it a "housewife".

      I need to make a larger canvas roll-up for all my camping cooking cutlery. These roll-ups are awesome ways to keep things organized.

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 4 years ago from Florida

      Nice idea. I never heard of it.

    • profile image

      nvhoangviet 4 years ago

      I will visit it when i go to it for travelling. Thanks

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 4 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Cool idea for travelers. Thanks!

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      What a great travel aid idea! I never would have thought of making a washcloth travel tote!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      How inventive and clever of you....and so practical to be prepared with an emergency supply of toiletries because it does feel like and emergency if we don't have them! A very fun DIY and congratulations on home page honors!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 4 years ago from United States

      I love this! What a wonderful and easy sewing craft! It would be the perfect sewing project for the beginner and have tons of uses. I need to make one for each family member for the beach and one for my son to take to the gym. Oh, or the college dorm room! Awesome!!!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      Oh, such a smart and thoughtful idea.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      I like to camp, this would be great to take on camping trips.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 4 years ago

      What a great idea. Now I just need to find someone to make one for me! ;-)

    • MBurgess profile image

      Maria Burgess 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Nifty project and the step by step is very helpful. What a great way to have all of your basic toiletries handy!

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      Clever idea, I travel quite a bit and this would really make a nice compact way to store my toiletries. Thanks for sharing, Great Job!

    • profile image

      WinWriter 4 years ago

      I've never seen this idea before. I love it! It doesn't look that hard to do either. Thank you for posting your creative idea!

    • mrdata profile image

      mrdata 4 years ago

      Great tutorial and valuable ideas here! Thanks!

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 4 years ago from Shanghai, China

      Very very clever. I like this idea. Maybe I will make myself one this summer!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      I love it. What a wonderful gift a washcloth tote would be for someone going on vacation or off to college. Your step by step photos are so easy to follow and this craft project idea so original. Gotta love it.

    • JauntyGiGi profile image

      JauntyGiGi 4 years ago

      What a great idea.

    • stanger66 profile image

      stanger66 4 years ago

      Very informative

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 4 years ago

      What a great idea - an easy way to keep your most important toiletries handy!

    • JamieHopes LM profile image

      JamieHopes LM 4 years ago

      Great product, very creative and inexpensive.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Excellent!