Recycle a Uniform Into a Treasured Keepsake

Lazies, I recently made this fun and festive tote for my friend Kim in celebration of her youngest son becoming an Eagle Scout. I used Kim’s den mother uniform, put my thinking cap on and went about crafting this bag. I didn’t have a plan, but when I saw the fabulous pockets on those sturdy uniform pants, I had a solid starting point. Imagine the possibilities in recycling one of your sentimental articles of clothing into a treasured keepsake.

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Kim’s Scout bag. Size: 12″ wide by 11″ tall by 4″ deep.

Here’s what I started with: Kim’s den mother uniform.

The pants were a bounty of good things, waiting to go to work as a purse. I used the front and back pockets to make the front and back of the bag. I cut the pants just below the crotch, then trimmed near the side and middle seams to make the largest, flat pieces possible.

I added some green fabric to fill in around the pocket openings to square-up the front pocket pieces and make them large enough for this project.

The back pockets were just too cute! I added some green fabric above the pockets to make the piece the size I needed.

I added the badges from Kim’s shirt to the front and back of the bag, including her troop and den numbers. I must say, sewing badges on by hand is no picnic. I hope someone has come up with a quick way to add these beauties. Sewing by hand is not Lazy!

Now, let me tell you, the inside of the bag was an adventure. I turned the pant’s fly front zip sideways, or horizontal, and built a pocket around it for the lining. I added a shirt breast pocket on top of that.

I used extra fabric from a pant’s leg to make a band of pockets for the other side of the lining. I used the shirt back for the lining. Zipper pulls were made using some leather strips and charms given to Kim for each scouting event in which she participated.

The bag ended up larger than I expected and fits our size C Bag-E-Bottom. I used leftover Boy Scout fabric to make a sleeve to hold the bottom.

Finally, Kim’s height provided lots of pant leg length to make long shoulder straps for her bag. Just a couple more views.

Kim loves her bag. When I gave Kim this bag, she investigated every nook and cranny, tried to discern where each part of the bag came from, then immediately moved into the purse. What special garment do you have tucked away, waiting to be transformed into a new favorite?

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31 Responses to “Recycle a Uniform Into a Treasured Keepsake”

  1. Jeanie — November 29, 2010 @ 8:34 am

    What a great purse! We all have those clothes that we don’t wear, but can’t part with either. What a wonderful way to repurpose them. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Erica — November 29, 2010 @ 8:43 am

    What a fantastic Margo Bag! She’s my favorite!

  3. Jeanne S — November 29, 2010 @ 9:03 am

    I saw your post a while back before when you said you were going to turn a bunch of old uniform pieces into a handbag and was pretty skeptical. But having now seen the bag it is awesome. Our Scoutmaster’s son’s Eagle ceremony was this weekend and I can see that even when the mom is not there at the meetings, she has put a lot of time in over the years to help make it happen. When the mom has also been a leader that investment is infinitely deeper. What a terrific memento for many years of mentoring.

  4. Jean — November 29, 2010 @ 9:41 am

    Joan, You never cease to amaze me. Do you dream about these items every night? LOL
    The purse is absolutely beautiful.

    I know your friend was very happy when she saw this finished project. It is really adorable and meaningful.

    fondly, Jean

  5. Sheryl — November 29, 2010 @ 9:49 am

    Tried to join you on facebook using the link about but they say “no can do”. I think i tried last week too, but was declined.
    LOVE the bag. Have the pattern for the Margo bag, but have yet to make myself one. Need to put that on my 2011 goal list.

  6. Joan Hawley — November 29, 2010 @ 10:34 am

    Sheryl, Make sure you have a Facebook account and are logged in. Then it should let you join our group there.

  7. Roni Hunt — November 29, 2010 @ 11:19 am

    Awesome!!! This is an incredible idea! Thanks-thanks-thanks!!

  8. Pam T. — November 29, 2010 @ 11:32 am

    Joan, you are incredible! This bag is a genuine treasure. You inspire me to go digging for the Cub Scout uniform of my son who is now age 44 to make a mini-bag!

  9. Vi — November 29, 2010 @ 11:32 am

    that is ADORABLE! Such talent and creativity… thanks for sharing. I’m now going to look for a Navy uniform and make something like that for me!!!

  10. Shari Hall — November 29, 2010 @ 11:46 am

    This is really great, I haven’t made a Margo bag but will definitely do that soon. And using the uniform is very memorable for your friend & will enjoy it for years to come. I made purses out of jeans but not any uniforms, I do have a strap with one of my girls girl scout badges on it, I’m not sure which one it belongs to. It’d be neat to make that some how into a bag or wallet, I’ll have to think about it. Thanks

  11. Judi — November 29, 2010 @ 11:48 am

    With that bag you will “Always Be Prepared”. Joan, great foresight!

  12. Cecile — November 29, 2010 @ 11:54 am

    Joan, you have been hiding something from us. This bag is over-the-top impressive–and not the least bit Lazy. What a fantastic creation!

  13. Fonda — November 29, 2010 @ 12:14 pm


    I thought that I have seen all of the great ideas. But boy, this one tops them all. Does your brain ever rest…You keep us thirsty for more.
    Thanks for all of the wonderful ideas and beautiful projects.

    Have a wonderful Holiday,


  14. Angie — November 29, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

    Love this idea thanks…this is great.

  15. girlsmama — November 29, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

    As a fellow scout leader for the last decade I know how much that bag is loved! I love it, love it. Do you hire yourself out? 🙂

  16. Cheryl — November 29, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

    This is awesome. What a great idea!

  17. Annie Unrein — November 29, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

    Hi, Joan! Great job on the bag. Here’s a great lazy way to attach those Boy Scout patches: use fusible thread! Just sew around the patch with fusible thread in your bobbin and invisible thread on top. Then fuse it in place. Quick, easy, and oh-so-lazy!

    You can read more about fusible thread at my website:

  18. Susan — November 29, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

    I made my daughter a Towne purse from a pair of my husband’s old corduroy pants. The back pockets were so unique and worked perfectly on the outside of the bag. She loved that bag and all her friends wanted one just like it! But she was happy to tell them that it was one of a kind and could not be duplicated!

    What a great friend you are to make this very special bag for your friend. I’m sure that makes it all the more special to her.

  19. Susie — November 29, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

    WOW that is awesome. How neat. 🙂

  20. Cindy — November 29, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing your creation. I love all your purses and am always trying to think up something different. Recently I used a Trader Joe’s fabric shopping bag to make a Sassy Bag. It came out great. I am now inspired to start thinking even more out of the box.

  21. Amy A. — November 29, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

    Joan, this is a true masterpiece- just awesome. Congratulations to Kim and her son on such a distinguished accomplishment. I have 3 Eagle Scout nephews as well as my late father-in-law.

  22. lellia — November 29, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

    Fantastic Having such creativity is a blessing. Enoy it as we al do when you show us your creativity

  23. Deanne P. — November 29, 2010 @ 9:30 pm

    You never cease to amaze me. Thanks for the idea and inspiration. I was a Cub Scout Den mom as well as the Outings Director on the Exe. Board. I’m definitely going to dig out those uniforms and make one for me and one for our daughter-in-law. Thanks again!

  24. jaybird — December 1, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

    what a fantastic idea!!! and the bag looks fabulous!

  25. pam duxbury — December 2, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

    I love this idea! What a great way to show what you have been to others and what you have accomplished. Awesome!!!!

  26. Gertrude E — December 11, 2010 @ 10:38 pm

    this got me to thinking – my late husband has several coveralls and patches left over, I think this would be a great way to preserve them. thank you very much for the idea.

  27. conishkee — September 11, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

    I know I’m on the late freight commenting on this bag, but it’s got a fabulous look and I’m lovin’ it. I have to try my hand at making one. Thanks for sharing!

  28. Linh Terry — April 4, 2015 @ 10:13 am

    May I have a pattern for this bag?

  29. Tracy — May 4, 2015 @ 8:58 pm

    very cute! Have you posted a pattern? I’d love to make these for our WEBELOS moms with boys whi will cross to Boy Scouts. 🙂

  30. JudyL — July 6, 2015 @ 3:03 am

    This is just wonderful! I’ve saved mine & my sons’ Boy Scout uniforms with the thought to make a purse with the pants for myself. I just hadn’t figured out how I wanted to do it yet. This would be perfect for a purse, but also one for someone I know who is still very active and could use it to tote her files back and forth in.
    I would love it if you would post a tutorial and some directions for this, there are a few things I can’t figure out how you did just by looking.

  31. Kami Keeley — March 8, 2016 @ 7:42 pm

    Where did you find the fabric for the top and to fill in the pockets? I would love to have a tote bag like this.