Martha Stewart has these great tutorials for making a Beach Towel Tote Bag with a Mat out of a bath towel and a 2 hand towels. Here is the link for her instructions.
Now, I followed her instructions to the best of my ability, but they sure are confusing. So here is her instructions plus my pictures to make it a little bit more accessible. I also cheated and added an additional hand towel because it made it easier for me although I did find the end result to be very thick for using on my sewing machine. I also altered her design slightly by adding two seams on the half finished bag to create three pockets so that the bag wouldn't be as cavernous. Here goes my first DIY Tutorial.
To do this craft you will need
2 hand towels (the length should equal the width of your bath towel)
1 bath towel
a sewing machine
I used 1 yard of Twill Tape instead of her suggested webbing, but will be using longer amounts for future bags to get a tote bag length.
First lay out your hand towel and decide which side will be the "inside of the bag". I choose to put all the tags "inside" the bag. Opposed to cutting them off, I kept them to make it easier to determine which side was the inside of the bag and which side would be the exterior. I eyeballed the appropriate placement for the handles and placed the twill tape on the tagged side of the towel. I pinned them down and used this as a guide for my other hand towel so that the handles would "meet up".
I sewed on the twill tape and back-stitched over the twill tape to reinforce them. Don't sew the two hand towels together, just put the handles on each one.
Now this next part took me a lot of thinking, because you are now adding the towel to the handtowels. For the first hand towel addition, take the hand towel and lay it face up (tagged side down on the towel) onto the bath towel. Sew the two sides and bottom seams...Also, if you'd like to add the two vertical pockets now is the time to do it! Just pick the size of pocket you would like and sew the appropriate number of seams to create your pocket(s). I choose to create three pockets.
As you can see here is the three pocket side. The towel is fully extended and acts as your mat.
To add the final hand towel, lay it face down tag side up on top of the pocketed hand towel.
You can see both handles at the top of the bag...the non-pocketed hand-towel is laying on top of the larger towel. The bath towel is at the end.
Now the tote was so thick that I couldn't keep thin seam allowances, I had to move above the previous seams to be able to sew with the foot down. If you choose to follow Martha's instructions, you probably won't have this issue, but I didn't follow Martha hear because, we'll she lost me and I liked the idea of pockets. So, once again sew along the two sides and bottom.
You will now flip the bag so that the tags and handle seams are inside the bag. Now, the mat can be tucked into the larger pocket formed by the LAST hand towel.
I don't have my finished picture because, well, I lost it. But you can see the semi finished project with the mat extended. When the mat is folded up inside the bag it looks just like Martha's.
This would make a great Mother's day gift or a welcome to warm weather present!
My next project from Martha will be this canvas bag turned baby bag for a friend who is expecting her third and needs LOTS of room!