Thursday, October 22, 2009

Plastic Bag Tote Tutorial

Because it was is a quick how-to for sewing up the woven plastic bags to make a tote.

30 - 36" length of woven plastic bags (13" wide)
2 1/2 yards of strapping (1" wide)
90 or 100 machine needle
regular sewing thread to match the strapping

Lay out the woven piece, fold down about 3"  on each end for the flaps.  I make the straps with 9" above the top of the bag,  and 3 1/2" in from the sides.  Measure and pin.

Overlap the strapping by 1" and pin in place.  (If I use nylon , I do burn the ends so they won't ravel; because this is cotton webbing, I will deal with the ends when I am sewing.)

From the table to the sewing machine!  Set your machine for heavy fabric, use a 3.0 straight stitch length and sew the straps to the bag along the edge of the strap.             
As you  near the top, be careful to arrange the fringe, either tuck it behind the strap (on the warp threads you are covering, or to keep the outside ones out of the seam).  A little care here will save you trouble later on!
Stop stitching an 1/8" from the top edge, pivot and  back stitch to secure the stitching across the top and then continue down the other side of the strap , back to where you began stitching.  Secure and trim threads.

When you come to the join, pivot, change to a multi-step zig zag and cover the end with stitching so it won't ravel, backstich,and continue around the strap with straight stitching, being sure to keep the under layer lined up so it is a neat join. 

When both straps are secured, fold the bag in half, having the flaps on the inside.  Stitch the side seams  together with the multi-step zig zag.  I sew this seam over at least 2 warp threads, and sew it twice for strength.  Be sure and tuck those fringe ends in and out of the seam!

Trim any stray weft plastic to neaten up this edge as it will be revealed on the inside of the tote.

After both sides are sewn, I fold the bag and sew the corners to give dimension to the totes using the multi-step zig zag stitich .  (I use the colored part on the sewing throat for my guide :'P  which translates to about 1 1/2" in from the point and gives the width of the bottom of the tote 3".)  I leave the corners in the bag, they give good form to the corners.

Trim the fringe around the bag to be sure it is level.  Remember, cutting fringe is like cutting bangs-better to trim a little at a time than have them too short!

You now have a completed bag!

Let me know if I have skipped any pertinent points, or if you have a question!  Enjoy.


  1. Great tutorial!! Thanks (even though I wasn't the original requester!)

    It's funny, but I don't consider myself good with my sewing machine at all. And I felt like your bags might be hard to sew. But then seeing it all so clearly laid out, it doesn't seem as out of reach as I'd feared.


  2. Thank you for the tutorial.

    I can't help but think the first step would be something like.. First, let the cat inspect the bag to make sure it passes kitty inspection. :)

  3. Love how Nyki inserted herself into the tutorial...!

  4. Thank you, thank you, since I was the original requestor lol... I love the tutorial. I've been saving bath puffs and was thinking I could make a beach bag out of them.


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