Those of you who frequent the Journal have read and learned about our Makeshift initiative—which is a series of events, talks, workshops, and gatherings that seek to get makers of different minds and from various fields in the same room together for discussion. As design and craft professions evolve, sometimes walls develop between the makers; those makers can develop tunnel vision, looking only straight ahead and not around at what others are doing. Makeshift gatherings encourage makers to find inspiration in one another—and create a place where disciplines can meet, find common ground, and explore some not-so-common ground. We have found that Makeshift events reawaken that curiosity and sense of community that some of us may have lost in the creative process.

As you have seen in our most recent Makeshift posts, we want to continue conversation between designers and makers of all disciplines, at all skill levels, with the intent of understanding making from as many points of view as possible. One of the most successful exercises we utilize throughout these events is the Makeshift canvas tote bag project; here we offer attendees a blank canvas, of sorts: an Alabama Chanin organic canvas tote bag, a variety of materials, and an invitation to express thoughts (literally or conceptually) on the bag.


This year, as part of the fourth year of Makeshift, we extend the invitation to participate to you. As part of The School of Making, we now offer the DIY Makeshift Design Tote Kit. Those that purchase the kit receive a blank organic cotton canvas tote, a 8.5″ x 11″ mylar stencil featuring our Bloomers placement design and the word ‘MAKE’, a spool of red Buttoncraft thread, a yarn ball in various shades of blue, assorted Millner needle, folding scissors with a jersey necktie, kraft embossed journal, Alabama Chanin pencil, and a Fine and Extra Fine Point Sharpie. However, we encourage you to use your imagination and incorporate your own materials into the design.

We also present to you the same challenge and ask the same questions that we ask of all Makeshift participants:

Everything we touch today has a global impact, which is only magnified by the Internet and ease of information exchange. Yet a long-time division and disconnect between each design industry still prevails over a quickly changing world, one in which innovation and collaboration define the future.

Where do fashion, food, design, craft, + DIY intersect?

How do we define and transform the intersection of fashion, food, design, craft, + DIY through innovation and collaboration for the better good?

Also—just as we ask of our Makeshift event attendees—once you are finished, we ask you to take a photo of your tote and email the images to us at that we can add a selection to our Makeshift Image Quilt (see our photography guidelines below) where photographs of each bag create a piece, or square, published to a Tumblr page created specifically for the Makeshift Series. We’ve partnered with Tumblr to expand the voice of the Makeshift project globally.

We also ask you to join our conversation, by using #makeshift2015 and #theschoolofmaking across social media as you work on your project.

P.S.: Here are a few photography guidelines.

Photograph the front and back. (There are, after all, two sides.)

Photograph the bag straight on. (Weird angles confuse us.)

If possible, use natural lighting. (It’s just the best.)

Keep the entire bag in the frame, but feel free to crop in as close as you can.

2 comments on “DIY TOTE + DESIGN

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  1. ina

    … oh my my … so exciting … must stitch tote bags with the peeps … thanks so much for making this happen far beyond the places you are …

    p.s. … the direct link is not active though to hop and buy the kit!!!