How to Upcycle Old Plastic Bags into Reusable Shopping Totes

How to Upcycle Old Plastic Bags into Reusable Shopping Totes

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.
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • 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!