Upcycled Grocery Bag Tutorial

One of my New Year's resolutions is to find little ways to be more earth friendly and create less trash. 
 We have a bird feeder on our deck and really enjoy seeing all the beautiful birds in our backyard.  We go through quite a bit of seed feeding both the birds and squirrels, so we often end up with an empty 50 pound bird seed bag.  Before putting it in the trash I had the idea that I could turn that bag into a reusable grocery bag and do double duty for the environment!  Here's what I did.
(my bird seed bag is made from a woven plastic type material)
 The bottom of the bag has a gusset, so first I cut that off so I could measure and trim the bag to the size I want.
 I grabbed a bag I own to get the general size.  I trimmed the birdseed bag to be about 24 inches tall by 20 inches wide.
 I forgot the snap a picture, but make sure you SAVE the pieces you cut off, these will be your straps. 
With the right sides together, sew the sides and bottom of the bag with about a 1/2 inch seam allowance. You'll want to use the same kind of sewing tricks you'd use for oilcloth.  Check out the section "getting the fabric to slide" HERE.
 I got to try out my new roller foot which worked great.
 Fold down the top about 1.5 inches and sew.
 To box out the bottom, I cut out 4 x 4 inch squares off each bottom corner.
 Match the side and bottom seam and sew across with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
 To make the straps, I took my scraps and cut them to be about 2 inches wide.  I folded them in thirds and sewed down each long edge.  The straps were originally the same length as the original bag, but I trimmed them down to be about 26 inches each.
 I pinned the straps to the inside of the bag, about 3 inches from each side seam, then sewed them in place. 

This was pretty easy to do and I really like how the bag looks.  The material is really sturdy so it will definitely hold up well which is not the case for many of our other reusable grocery totes.  Next time I think I'll trim the bag a little more strategically so that the barcode gets cut off and more of the picture is showing.
Hope you try it out with your next birdseed bag!


  1. Gracias por el tutorial. Quedó una bolsa muy linda. Lo pondré en práctica. Saludos desde Venezuela!

  2. This is so great ! Love the colorful photo on the bag.

    Greatings from Belgium, Martine

  3. I love this idea!! I've got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for later this morning that links to your tutorial:

  4. I make these for each classroom at my grandkids' elementary school. They use this bag to get the recyclables out of the classroom.

  5. What kind of thread did you use? My friend and I have tried doing this with her chicken feed bags and I end up with either the thread breaking and I even tried using quilting thread or I get a huge tangle. Please feel free to email me at shanna.laubeanderson@gmail.com with your trick for the thread. Thanks.

  6. I do this with cat food bags that are used at a no-kill cat shelter. Once I have several made, we sell them and the proceeds are used to buy more food for the cats at the shelter.

  7. Love this idea. I have bird seed, chicken feed, and cat/dog food bags that will now be recycled! Thanks!