Here are the things I've been toiling away at-but with pleasure! Don't mean to sound like I was in some awful cave somewhere!! I wanted to make something useful and arty at the same time, and to also use recycled stuff. I love tote bags. When I was 15 years old, I made a bunch of burlap bags (history repeating itself!) and decorated them with tiny beads. I actually sold them at school. Five bucks! I made about a dollar an hour! Oh well....
The burlap for these bags is used coffee bean bags. This is an old idea, I know. There's lots of these around-all of them nice, I think. I love the printing too. Some of the bags have wonderful graphics like crowns. You can get them at any coffee roasters. I got 10 tote bags out of 2 whole coffee bean bags. They smell good. There is a little dust(a LOT)-more than plain burlap-so I had my trusty Shop Vac handy after each sewing session. You will need to oil your sewing machine and clean it frequently too.
I used recycled wool for the appliques, and a plain embroidery stitch around the edges. Then I lined the burlap with used but cleaned poly-weave feed bags. I have saved them for ages. We feed wild birds, and of course, I feed my geese corn. If you are going to re-use feed bags for a lining-let me save you a little trouble. The ones that DO NOT have paper on the outside are MUCH easier to work with. Bird seed bags from Wal-Mart are very pretty with the birds on them, but the paper makes them very stiff as a lining. They would work fine as a tote by them selves.
The feed bags are very easy to cut and sew. I didn't use a heavy-duty needle on my machine, but it would be a good idea. I thought they would shed little pieces of plastic all over when I cut them, but it was very clean. I was able to get two tote linings out of one feedbag.