Ruffled ACU Totebag

I’m certain all my fellow military spouses already know this, but for those civilians out there, the military observes Military Spouse Appreciation Day on the Friday before Mother’s Day.

When you live on (or near) a post, there are tons of fun things…pampering, swag bags, and the like. When you live away from a post, not so much. So I made myself a tote bag, using an ACU (Army Combat Uniform) that the hubs wore when deployed. He needed to get rid of some, anyway, and you can’t just drop them off at a civilian thrift shop.

But on with the tote…you can never have too many, you know!


To make one, you’ll just need a totebag, 1/4 yard of a fun fabric, and a strip from an ACU 2” x 14” (or half an inch longer than your tote bag front). If you’re not lucky enough to having numerous old uniforms in various camo patterns lying around your home, feel free to substitute any fabric you like!

1. Cut a 6” strip from your fabric, across the entire 54” (or 45”). Fold it in half to form a rectangle 6” x 27” (or 22-1/2”). Starting at the open end, sew a 1/4” in down one side, across the folded end, and back up the other side, leaving the end open. Clip the corners of the folded end, being careful not to clip the sewing. That’s so you can have crisp corners when you turn it right side out. Iron the open ends to the inside and sew closed.


2. Sew down the center of the rectangle, leaving a 6” tail of thread at the end.


3. Gently pull one of the threads to gather the rectangle.  Keep pulling, then scooting the gathers down the rectangle, until it’s the length you need. Be careful not to push your gather off the other end of the thread, though…then you’ll have to gather more. Did you know that’s how to make a ruffle?  Simple, right?


4. Center the ruffle on your tote bag and pin in place. Sew the ruffle down the center. These stitches will be covered by the ACU stripe, so don’t worry about lining them up with the ruffling threads.


5. Iron every edge of the ACU strip 1/4” in, and center it on the sewn-on ruffle. Then simply stitch around it. You’re done!


It’s a fun way to always carry a little part of my soldier with me, without being all in-your-face about it….after all, I’m not the one who wears the uniform and defends our freedom,  I am, however, the one that can make a cute accessory with personal meaning!


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