How to Upcycle Old Plastic Bags into Reusable Shopping Totes
I absolutely love finding new ways to repurpose and upcycle items around my home. It’s such a fulfilling feeling to turn something headed for the landfill into a fun and functional new creation. Plastic shopping bags are one of my favorite materials to upcycle since I seem to accumulate so many of them! With a little creativity, these flimsy sacks can be transformed into sturdy and stylish reusable tote bags.
Gather Your Supplies
- Old plastic shopping bags – the more the better! Target bags work great.
- Sewing machine or hand-sewing needle and thread
Prepare the Plastic Bags
- Start by cutting off the handles and bottom seam of each plastic bag. Try to keep the sides intact.
- Cut along the sides to split the bag into a flat sheet.
- Neaten up the edges by cutting off any logos or text.
- Give each sheet a quick iron to flatten out any wrinkles.
Measure and Cut Fabric Pieces
- Decide how big you want your tote bag to be. Standard reusable totes are often around 15″ wide x 16″ tall x 5″ deep.
- Using a ruler and pencil, measure and mark fabric pieces according to your desired dimensions:
- Front and back panels: Cut 2 pieces that are your desired width x height
- Side panels: Cut 2 pieces that are your desired depth x height
- Bottom panel: Cut 1 piece that is your desired width x depth
- Repeat until you have enough plastic sheets cut for each panel. For durability, use at least 2 layered sheets per panel.
Assemble Your Tote Bag
- Take your time and line up the edges neatly.
- Sew the side panels to the front and back panels using a 1/2″ seam allowance.
- Attach the bottom panel.
- Fold over the top edge 1-2″ and sew into place to form a casing.
- Cut 2 lengths of plastic about 36″ long and feed them through the casing to create drawstring handles.
- Knot the ends of the drawstrings together.
- Get creative with decorations! Add ribbons, fabric strips, pom poms, studs, stencils, painted designs – anything goes!
And that’s it – reuse those plastic shopping bags to make a set of sturdy, customizable reusable totes! Not only are you reducing waste, you’ll also have fun totes to carry purchases, supplies, books, and anything else you need on-the-go. I love being able to grab these lightweight bags rather than flimsy plastic ones at stores. Give it a try for yourself!