When going to the grocery store or pharmacy or department stores, I have made the decision stop using the single use plastic bags. As much as possible, and it is very possible to do this on every visit to every store, I will refuse those store bags in favor of my own reusable bags. Even if I forget to bring in a bag, I’ll still refuse those plastic ones, like I did recently at a big box store. I just had the clerk just put the items back in a cart and then I packed the bags standing at my car trunk. Hopefully that will teach me to always get them out whenever I shop. One thing I noticed after the grocery store run, meat tends to leak, and washing those bags is a pain. The giveaway ones that are lightweight synthetic fibers tend to tear when washed, and the canvas ones get very stiff and wrinkled. So, I needed something I could wipe clean with a sponge and some cleaner.
DH buys the birds this premium seed, and they come in nice size bags made of a synthetic fiber of some kind that is woven. I asked him to save me a couple of bags. I have seen people making totes like this from 40-pound dog food bags, so I figured a 20-pound bag would be a good size for the grocery store. Some of those tutorials are really complicated, so of course, I wanted to simplify the process. Begin by cutting the bottom off the first bag. There are two reasons for this. It makes the bottom square, and cuts off the former stitching that could harbor seed debris and interfere with boxing the corners.
On the top of the bag, cut two strips off, 3-inches wide each.
Cut through each one crosswise to create two long strips. Fold the edges to the center.
Then fold in half again, enclosing the raw edges inside the strap. Use clips to hold as pins would leave holes.
Turning to the machine, change the needle to a size 16. I also chose a thicker thread than the kind I usually use for piecing. Can you believe the price on these needles originally? Yes, they are a bit vintage, LOL, but needles don’t go bad. This unopened package was a thrift store score.
I replaced the needle in the sewing machine with the size 16, and put the still usable size 12 one aside. Here’s an old tip that is still a good one. On a tomato pin cushion, number the wedges with needle sizes with a sharpie pen. Then you can store your gently used machine needles for use later and not have to get your loop out to see the size on the side of the needle. If you have needles stored in other places and you cannot remember the size, a jewelers loop will allow you to see it engraved on the side.
Next, lengthen your stitch length. On my machine, I believe the 2.5 setting gives me 12 stitches per inch, and the 4.0 setting is more like 8 stitches per inch. If you don’t do this, the closer stitching may perforate the bag too closely in a line and weaken the stitching.
Stitch the handles near the double-folded edge to secure the layers together. Repeat with the other handle.
Turn the bag inside out, and stitch across the bottom.
Fold up that end, and stitch again for strength.
Box the corner 3 inches.
On the inside top, fold the top edge down one inch, then fold again one more inch. Insert the handle under the fold, with each end 3 inches from the center.
Stitch all the way around on the lower edge.
Fold the handle up, and stitch again around the top edge.
Voila, all done. This first bag took under an hour to make.
Then with the second bag, I did essentially the same procedure.
This time, I boxed the lower corners only 2 inches.
I’ll see which I like better on my next trip to the store. The second bag took under 30 minutes!
Do you have bags like this that could become totes?
My tutorial for Sewing a Vinyl Zipper Bag is now up at Madam Sew.
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