Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Three R's: A Thrifty Way to Store Bags

Let me just say, for the record, that I am not into the "green movement."  I have lots of opinions about it that, for the moment, I will keep to myself.  I do, however, believe that we are required to be good stewards of the earth and that there are merits and (frugal) benefits to living in a conservative way.  I also believe that using the three "R's" (recycle, reduce, reuse) is a good way to save money and be responsible for all the excess stuff we seem to have.

I want to share with you an effective way of storing your old plastic bags from the grocery store.  I know they are getting a lot of flack right now, but we reuse them all over the house as garbage liners, sack lunch bags, and wet bags for the beach, pool, or a kid's unfortunate accident (though I am using cloth grocery bags most of the time now).  This storage bag is made from things I had lying around the house already and is a great way to recycle old remnants from sewing.  It features a drawstring at one end for easy access or something to hang it from, plus an elastic opening on the other side.

You can easily grab a bag out of the elastic opening.  This project can be done by a beginning sewer and it will save you precious cabinet space!

  • Fabric- mine measured 1 yard x 1/2 yard, but you can do any size you'd like as long as it's rectangle-ish in shape.  Mine was fairly large. An old dish towel would work fine.
  • Thread
  • Elastic- at least 10", braided preferred, though whatever you have left over from other projects should work great.
  • A Shoelace- My husband's Vans came with two sets of shoelaces and, let's be honest, who changes those out? Ever? Anyway, the point is to use what you have lying around.
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and board
  • Rotary cutter and self-healing mat or scissors (if you sew at all, I highly recommend investing in a rotary cutter system- it will make your life so much easier!)

Step 1 Square off your fabric.  You can skip this if you are using an old towel.  Do this by folding it in half, lining up the finished ends and cut the edges (that the fabric store made uneven) straight. If you don't have a mat, use something to help you with the 90 degree angle, like a book.

Step 2 Fold your fabric in half "hot-dog style." With right sides facing each other, sew along the long end of your rectangle.  Iron seam open.  At each end, fold and iron your fabric about 1/4" (again, you can skip this step with a towel).

Step 3 Fold and iron your fabric up one more time to make a casing that won't fray.  I folded one end about 1" up for my shoelace casing and the other about 1/2" for the elastic casing. 

Step 4 On the shoelace end, mark where you want to put your shoelace hole(s). I chose to have 2 holes, one for each end of the string, right where the long ends were sewn together and on the outside of the casing.

Step 5 Open up your casing and sew your shoelace holes using the buttonhole setting on your machine (don't mind how terrible mine are... I feel like I have to relearn how to do them every time).  Using a seam ripper, open your button holes.

Step 6 Sew the shoelace casing all the way around.  I didn't leave much of a seam allowance because I didn't want any plastic bags to get caught on open edges.

Step 7 Sew your elastic casing and leave 1-2" open.

Step 8 Using a safety pin (or in my case, a paper clip) insert your elastic through the casing.  I just took out my big spool of elastic I had laying around and didn't cut it to size until I had drawn it through.

Step 9 Sew your elastic at the length you would like, making sure you leave a little slack so you can get your hand through the hole.  Trim off excess and sew the casing closed.

And you're done!

This project really opened up a lot of cabinet space for me! I didn't realize how out of control it all was...



What a difference, huh? 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That's a great idea! I'll definitely be making a bag like this! Thanks for sharing!!