Umbrellas upcycled to bags

The problem with kids is that they grow up and grow out of things.  Some of these things can be passed on to friends, family or the local charity shop. Others are worn or broken and no longer useable in their original state.

Like this umbrella..

Very cute - but apparently too babyish for a 7 year old girl now!
Plus it does let water in the top..
..and is a little bit broken..

So new umbrellas have been bought - plain colours so they can't grow out of them this time!

But what to do with the old ones.  I'm not very good at throwing things away.  One day everything can be recycled into something new!

A few years ago, I found the idea online of turning an old umbrella into a bag.  I did this with the last umbrellas my girls had that broke!


Of course the cute duck and butterfly umbrellas I had weren't so straightforward. (nothing ever is!)
I wanted to keep the duck face and the butterfly shape.  Plus, I wanted to make these into bags that my girls could use for their swimming things at school.
A few weeks ago, I made them swimming bags that they use for their lessons after school - when they need fins, kickboards and pull buoys so need big bags. (see tutorial for those bags here).
But of course one bag each isn't enough! They also need a bag for when they have school swimming during the day!  
They stuff these inside their school bags, so I wanted them to zip up and keep the damp in the bag and away from their school books!

So, here's what I did:
(at this point I should mention that although my tutorials usually have measurements and clear instructions - this one is just showing how I like to sew - just making it up as I go along! Remembering that fabric is very forgiving and things don't have to be perfect!!)

First I cut the fabric off the frame:

Next I cut around the duck face - imagining the face as the side of the bag, and the orange duck bill as the base.  I cut straight across the top of the eyes thinking of this as the top opening of the bag where I would put the zip:

Next I pinned the remaining yellow fabric around the edge of this 'front and bottom' of the bag and trimmed the left over fabric away:

Now I found an old zip that I had rescued from the plastic zipped bag the girls 'alphabet mat' came in years ago. The plastic ripped, the alphabet mat was given away, but the zip was kept!!!

I pinned and stitched this zip to the top edges of the bag
 (unpinning along the sides to make it easier)

I also used the left over scrap to make a handle/strap for the bag.  I cut it into a relatively straight strip around 10cm (4") wide, and folded the edges in to neaten, stitching down both sides:

Now all that remained was to open up the zip, pin the strap to either end of the zip, then stitch around the sides and bottom of the bag:

The zip I used was longer than I needed - so I ran several rows of stitching over the zip where I needed it to stop, then trimmed the end away.

Done!  Turning the bag back the right way out through the open zip, I now had a cute ducky swimming bag for my 7 year old!

A ducky bag isn't babyish like a ducky umbrella!!!  Lucky!

Of course the older daughter's butterfly umbrella had to be converted too:

So now they both have cute bags instead of babyish umbrellas!!

For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

What have you done with things your kids have grown out of?

If you liked this tutorial - there are many more on
Please do take a look!


  1. The duck bag turned out so great! Such an awesome post!!! =)


  2. So very clever Jill.....from babyish to trendsetters.

  3. Great idea, Jill! I can't tell you how many umbrellas we've broken that I could have done this with!

  4. Umbrella fabrics is perfect for waterproof bags!!! Great idea, JIll!!! I would never have thought of this...

  5. Clever girl....that's a great idea.

  6. thank you for sharing your creativity - this is a inspiring project for me :-) thanks again!

  7. We have one of those duck umbrellas! Thanks for the idea on what to do with it when the frame breaks.

    I did a different umbrella bag, with the other side up. You can see a much sketchier tutorial here ( on my Bag of the Week blog. Some weeks are more creative and others are more "Oops, I need a bag. What can I whip out in under 30 minutes?"

  8. Such a great idea! I have a few broken umbrellas that I can start this project with - right on time for summer! Thanks :)

  9. This is just so wonderful. I've got a few umbrellas that have broken and I'm going to make these up. Thanks for submitting this ideas to Thriving on Thursdays!

    Anne xx

  10. Very clever! Thanks for sharing @'Sew Cute Tuesday'!

  11. The more we can recycle, the better for us and the world. Thanks for sharing yet another great way to do this...

  12. you are sew cool !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! can you do doll clothes?

  13. Hello! I add a link to this page. Take a look here I hope you appreciate this! Maddalena.

    1. Thanks for the feature - just popped over and saw it, together with other awesome umbrella upcycles!!


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