We had a major plastic bag problem in our kitchen. Since we moved in this summer, we’ve been saving plastic shopping bags to use as garbage bags in our small cans – throwing so much plastic away without even attempting to recycle made us feel uncomfortable. BUT, after several months of this, we had accumulated more plastic bags than we could ever hope to keep up with in terms of our trash creation, and because we don’t have a ton of hidden storage, they were cluttering up our kitchen big time. So, I whipped up a quick solution with my DIY Plastic Bag Keeper.
What you’ll need:
- Sewing Machine
- Scrap fabric that’s at least 4″ taller and 1″ wider than you want your finished keeper to be – I used a remnant I had in my stash that matched our lovely retro orange countertops
- Matching Thread
- Safety pin and Orange Stick (or whatever you prefer for turning small tubes inside out/threading elastic through casings)
- Elastic (I just used what I had stashed away – I think it was 1/2 inch and it worked perfectly).
- Beverage of Choice
- About 30 minutes of free time
First, cut your fabric to size. The remnant I chose was almost a full yard, and there’s no way we needed a plastic bag keeper that big. I just kind of eyeballed it, but you’ll want your piece to be about 4″ taller and 1″ wider than you want your finished keeper to be. The excess will go into the casing for the elastic, the fabric for the hanging loop, and the seam allowances.
You should end up with a rectangle that looks something like this (yes, I know, I didn’t iron my fabric… whoops):
Next, clip a strip off the bottom of one of the short sides, like so:
Make it about double the width you want your hang loop to be plus seam allowances I wanted mine sort of thin, so my strip is only about 1.5″ wide. If you want yours to be wider, make sure you accommodate for that extra width when cutting your initial rectangle. You’ll end up with a strip like this:
Put that strip aside for now, because next we’re going to make the casing for the elastic.
Fold and pin your fabric on one of the short sides over, wrong side to wrong side. I folded about an inch over, but again, you can just kind of wing it. Just make sure that once it’s sewn, you’ll have room for your elastic to fit through. Now, sew it up, making sure to leave enough space between the seam and the fold for your elastic.
Do the same on the other side, and you’ll be left with a rectangle with a tube on both short ends, like so:
Next, fold that baby in half lengthwise, right side to right side.
Sew up the loose side to make a big tube, but only go from seam to seam. Be careful not to close up the tubes at either end you made earlier: that’s where you’re going to thread the elastic through. You’ll have something that looks like this when you’re finished:
Now it’s time to make the hanging loop – I find it easier to make and attach this BEFORE you add the elastic, but you can do it either way, really.
First, fold your strip in half (right side to right side) and pin. Then sew up the side to make another tube – really that’s all this project is: making tube after tube…
Next, turn the tube inside out. Mine’s pretty thin, and I find that orange sticks work really well for this (those wood sticks used to push back cuticles and clean under nails and stuff – you should be able to find them in the nail care aisle of any drug store or beauty supply shop. I get mine at Sally Beauty). I have a bunch sitting around in my manicure drawer anyway, and the flat angled edge is perfect for forcing fabric through fabric.
Finally, attach to the big tube where you want it to hang, again being careful to sew UNDER the seam so as not to close up the elastic casing. I actually doubled my hanging loop, because my strip was long enough to cut in half, and I liked the way it looked.
And with that, all that’s left is to put in the elastic!
First, cut your elastic. I cut mine so that the elastic at the bottom of the keeper will be smaller, and thus the hole will be a little smaller – this helps keep the bags in the tube. Meanwhile the elastic at the top was left a little bigger, so that you can shove the bags into the keeper with a bit more ease. Use the width of your tube as your guide – the top elastic should be about as wide as the tube is when laid flat, and I cut my bottom elastic about half the size of the top elastic.
Now pick an end, and thread it through! I usually use a safety-pin for doing this kind of stuff – it gives me something a little more solid to push through the tube. Make sure you keep a good hold on the end of the elastic as you do this – you want to get it through and have the fabric all bunched up in the middle with both ends hanging out.
Reeeeaaallly bunch it up so you’ve got space to work with, fold those two ends of the elastic over one another and then sew them together to make a circle. Redistribute the fabric so that it covers the elastic, tuck the raw ends of the casing into one another, and if you’d like you can sew that down so it doesn’t move.
Repeat on the other end, trim your threads, turn the whole thing inside out, and viola! You’ve got your very own plastic bag keeper!
The whole thing should only take about 30 minutes or so, and it really is just making tube after tube, so it’s suitable for even the most beginner of sewers. That said, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments. When you’re done, you can store those plastic bags a little more in style than just shoving them all into one another and hanging them off the back of a chair (like we were doing)! Fill it up, and enjoy being rid of the eyesore!