Most people have a stash of plastic bags hiding somewhere in their house.
They take up drawers and cupboards. You can find them hiding in closets and car trunks. Unfortunately, some cities are no longer taking them in curbside recycling. Ugh. There are definitely issues when it comes to storage and disposal of them.
Despite being an avid sewer, I often forget my reusable bags at home. I don’t drive, so I haven’t found a convenient place to store sewn bags while on the go. (Hmmmmm, new project?) Unfortunately, at this moment, the plastic bags keep following me home.
I have tried a few different storage methods: Folding into triangles… Who has time for that? Wet wipes containers… They get stuck! Shoving them in a drawer… Quick and easy, but oh so messy.
One Spring cleaning day, I thought back to a fabric bag dispenser that my mother had when I was a child. This was a common thing in the crafty 1990’s… because IT WORKED! I quickly whipped a few of them up, and I’ve been using them ever since.
So I’m sharing a pattern that I designed: It’s called “The 15-minute plastic bag holder.”
It’s a great starter project for new sewers. It takes no more than 15 minutes to put together. The total cost of materials are extremely inexpensive if you have basic sewing items! I only paid $5.00 for the fabric and other items. It’s also a great way to use all of those gorgeous quilting cotton fat quarter precuts that are oh so hard not to buy. And finally, the best part is: You can put it together with a glue gun if you’re not a sewer! Just follow the instructions and glue the sew lines!!
Also, it’s free… Cause trying to organize plastic bags sucks!
15-Minute Plastic Bag Holder – Free Sewing Pattern Tutorial
- 1 piece of quilting cotton – cut into a Fat Quarter
- 1 piece of 1/4″ elastic – cut into an 8″ length
- 1 piece of ribbon – cut into an 8″ length
- 1 bodkin or safety pin for threading elastic
- Cotton thread in a colour that matches your fabric
- Sewing pins
- An iron
- Sewing needle for hand sewing (optional)
A few things to remember before starting:
- When starting and finishing sewing, make sure to backstitch 2-3 stitches to secure your new line before continuing.
- Do not sew over your pins! It can mess up your machine or break a needle. Bad news!
- Preheat your iron.
- If you are using a glue gun instead of a sewing machine, just follow the instructions as normal and replace the sewing lines with glue lines. Easy!
To start with, look at your Fat Quarter and decide which side of the fabric is the top and bottom. This is especially important if there’s a design or pattern that has a visible up and down! Lay it out on an iron safe surface with the wrong side facing up.
On both the top and bottom of the fabric, fold the fabric over 1/2″ and iron, then fold that over 1/2″ and iron again. The top will fold down and bottom will fold up. See the photo below for an example.
Now you are going to create a loop to hang your bag from. Take the ribbon and fold it in half. Pin it along the top edge that you have just sewn, about 2″ from the raw edge of the fabric. Make sure to fold the bottom of the ribbon under to prevent fraying. See the photo below for an example.
Sew the ribbon loop down with a rectangle. This rectangle should be sewn close to the top edge of the fold, otherwise, the bag will hang weird. Also, make sure that the stitching catches the bottom layer of the folded ribbon. If not the ribbon may fray. And that is just a pain in the ass!
Next, unfold the bottom edge. The crease that we ironed will still be there. We will end up folding it back up later.
Fold the two side edges together, with right sides together. Sew close to the edge of the fabric, about 1/2″ away from the raw edge. See the picture below for an example! Do not sew over the ribbon loop.
Now that the side is sewn, you will be working with a tube. You’re going to start working on the bottom where the elastic will be inserted.
Fold the bottom edge back up the same way it was originally folded along the ironed crease. Fold up 1/2″ and then fold that up 1/2″ again.
With two pines, you will mark a 3″ gap with sewing pins on any side of the tube. This will indicate where to start and finish sewing. See the photo below for an example.
Sew close to the edge, just like you did at the top. Starting at the first pin, you will sew all the way around the tube and stop right before the second pin. This will leave a gap at the top that will allow you to thread the elastic through.
Now that you have a tube to thread your elastic through, attach your bodkin or safety pin to your elastic. Starting at the gap, thread it all the way around the bottom edge. The elastic is much smaller than the tube so you will need to hold the loose end and scrunch the fabric around it to get it all the way through. See the photo below.
When the elastic is threaded and both ends are able to held, remove the bodkin or safety pin. Pin the elastic together with one edge on top of the other. This creates a loop that is hidden inside the fabric tube.
Sew the ends together with a rectangle. This can be done either with a sewing machine or by hand. Regardless, make sure everything is stitched together securely! This part of the bag will get alot of repeated stress on it.
The elastic is now a continuous loop. You are going to have to finish sewing closed the gap on the elastic casing. Stretch the gap out, and lay it as flat as you can. Sew the fold to the fabric close to the edge like you did before. Be very careful not to sew over the elastic! The elastic should be loose in the tube you created. Again, see the photos below.
Your sewing is all finished! Make sure to trim any loose threads that are hanging out. You can also iron the bag if there are creases in the fabric.
Now turn your new plastic bag holder right side out and admire your hard work.
I hope you enjoyed my first tutorial!
It’s a very easy beginner sewing project. It’s quick, inexpensive, and useful. Make one for your mom, she’ll love it!
If you have any feedback or have any difficulty with the project, leave a comment or message me. I will be available on this site or on social media. I’ll be happy to help out with any questions!