Tuesday, 16 August 2016

From feed bag to tote bag

I first heard about making tote bags from feed bags a while back so I had a look on Pinterest for tutorials on how to make them. Of course there were plenty of tutorials there to check out but one which drew my attention was by Emily Wigley of Fish Bowl Farm.




Emily keeps horses and had a lot of feed bags on her farm in Vashon in the US which had piled up and she wondered what she could do with them. She experimented and came up with the idea of tote bags. Eventually a program was launched where people could drop off their bags for recycling and they were then given to the unemployed who wanted some part time work. I am not sure how this part worked but these unemployed people were loaned sewing machines to sew the bags for which they were paid and they were then sold to provide funds to help the homeless on the island. Such a great idea! Vashon seems to be on an island so I wonder if it is visited by tourists in which case the bags would probably sell very well. Perhaps my US readers could enlighten me about this. If you watch this video of Emily's tutorial she explains how the program works. Do take note of her tutorial as she is better at explaining what she does than I am.




Now the bag I made the tote bag from is fairly well used so if you can get hold of a newer one your end product would look much better. Have a good look at the design on your bag and work out what part of it you want to use on the front. Then allow for sewing seams at the bottom and for turning over at the top and cut off the parts of the bag you don't need. Remember that you will need to keep some of these strips for the handles.






Here is another colourful bag which would look great made into a tote bag but this one was grotty and had seen too much wear and tear. I pinched this for a photo opportunity from the CEO's stash :-)





Firstly wipe over your bag with a damp cloth and dry it. Then for the next step  I tried sewing the bottom seam on the outside to do a French seam as suggested in another tutorial but I unpicked that stitching (which was crooked) and turned the bag inside out to sew along the bottom.





Then, following Emily's instructions I turned this over....




...and over again before sewing across. Then turn your bag to the right side.





Next fold over the top section.  Emily suggests turning over 9cm (3/4inch) twice. I should have turned over a larger hem which I discovered later but I was thinking more about not turning over part of the design I wanted to keep. In this case I shouldn't have cut off so much from the top but you learn this as you go along. Ok, clear as mud so far? :-)




Then on the outside sew across the top being careful to catch in the edges.




With the bag Emily used she was able to make her two handles from just one of the strips she had cut off. There are different sizes of bags so you may be able to do this but I cut out my handles from two strips. I cut them about 60cm (24 inches) long. Fold in an edge on each side of the handle. 



Fold over and bring edges together....




....then sew about 1/4 inch from edge or whatever you prefer. 




Decide where you want to place your handles and put a mark. Emily's choice is 10cm (4 inches) from the outside edge of the bag and she places the outer edge of the handle where she has marked on the top of the bag. As you will see in the tutorial this will depend on the design on the front of your bag as you don't want to sew over an integral part of it.




Sew your two handles on. This is a tad messy as you can see as I didn't turn over enough at the top as I mentioned but I wanted to make sure the handle was sewn on securely so that it could cope with anything heavy in the bag. This was only a trial run and it is always a good way to find out how you prefer to sew your bag together. My sewing machine isn't real wonderful with sewing over too many layers so the stitching is less than perfect obviously but hopefully you get the idea of how it is done. How I miss my old brown Husqvarna from the 1970s as it could sew over anything. Sigh! Of course these could be lined as well if you preferred.




So there you have it ~ an easy way to keep a feed bag out of landfill. These would be great to use at farmers'  markets and I am sure would be a topic of conversation. Do watch Emily's video as she does an excellent tutorial. What do you think...would you be interested in making one?

 





15 comments:

  1. Love it! I'd gladly promote your own feed bag tote industry down south if you'd just send me a sample. LOL Melb is of course the fashion capital.

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  2. Lynda, I have no desire to start up a business :-) Ihave been thinking though that this might be a good program to help some of our refugee ladies who have sewing skills.

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  3. Perfect for buying eggs at the Farmers' Markets - from me hopefully. Did you notice that Lynda D won a book from Leigh at Five Acres and a Dream - lucky girl!

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    1. Really Barb...Lynda is a lucky girl indeed. She didn't let on :-)

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  4. What a wonderful idea! I don't have any feedbags but I love the idea of turning what would otherwise be thrown away into something really useful. I turn little calico flour bags into gift bags and have seen the larger ones of these turned into simple totes at a local market.

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    1. Meg, I thought it was a great idea when I first saw the tote bags. I have seen the feed bags around the back yard for years and it didn't enter my head that you could make a bag out of them.

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  5. What a great idea Chel,the birds look so colourful, just right for a market bag.
    If you don't have enough for a good turnover at the top you could join on some from the bottom or cut some from a scrap bag that didnt have much usable parts.then you could set in the handles in the turnover.some scrap fabric could also be used for the turnover.
    If you need a flat bottom bag you sew across the corners on the inside, this makes the bag skinnier and not so tall, so you need to factor that in to your basic measurements.
    These great bags look to be very hard wearing and easy clean, even after toting pot plants.

    I use my lovely calico bread flour bags to keep my many knitting projects clean, organised and the relevant pattern or matching sock is where I can find it.

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    1. Margaret, I did see that idea about sewing across the corners on another tutorial but thought I would just stick with what Emily's tutorial instructed for this one.

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  6. Oh I like this idea, I have a friend who has some of these laying around, I may suggest a sewing afternoon!!

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    1. Good idea, Kathy..you might start up a new craze!

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  7. What a great idea Chel. It is so good to share these kind of tips because there is so much waste going to landfill and not much is mentioned in the mainstream about ways to re-use and re-purpose items.

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    1. Yes this is such a good idea, Sherri. Imagine how many feed bags there must be around the place.

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  8. I am pretty sure that we do not have such colorful feed bags here.

    Anyone for stinky burlap?

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  9. Well what do you know...just this very minute I was reading an old blog of yours and wondering how you were!

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  10. Thank you .
    I never thought of such a thing and we have plenty of empty chook food bags. Colourful like yours. My girls will all be getting new market bags as an addition to their birthday gifts this year :)

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