Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to Make a Plastic Bag Holder

If you're anything like me, you have a wad of plastic grocery bags lurking under your bathroom sink, where they seem to multiply and spread out, trying to take over the entire cabinet. They defy any attempts to be corralled into a smaller area, and they take up space that rightfully belongs to a plethora of other Much More Important Items, such as toilet paper, cotton balls, and bottles of shampoo and body wash.
Last night, I decided enough was quite firmly enough. It was time to show those plastic bags who was boss. You're probably thinking I took them to the recycling bin, and that would have been quite effective. Nothing like throwing things into a smelly dark place to show your dominance. But no, I had to do something more creative and lovely. So here you go. And thanks, Mom, for showing me how it's done.

One 12" x 23"piece of fabric
One 3" x 6-1/2" piece of fabric for the tab (or you can use 6" or so of ribbon)
6" of 1/2" elastic

Here are all the pieces laid out on my ironing board. Pretty simple, huh?

After you've measured and cut your pieces, the first step is sewing the tab. If, of course, you're using ribbon, you get to skip right on to the next step.
To make the tab, fold the tab in half lenghthwise and press. Then open it up and fold one of the edges to the center crease and press, and then do the same with the other long edge. Here you can see me holding it open.
Once you've got it pressed, run a straight seam about 1/8" from the open seam.
(This method beats the crap out of trying to sew a tiny little tube and then turn it right side out.)
Next, you're going to make the casing for the elastic. Press down about 1/4 on one of the 12" ends of the body of the bag holder. Then make another fold a little more than 1/2" and press.

Sew close to the inner edge, so that you leave a tad more than 1/2" to thread the elastic through.
Momma taught me a trick for inserting elastic. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic, and then use the pin to push the elastic through.

Keep an eye on the end of the elastic, though, and once the end you've started from has just a peep of elastic showing, stop and sew that in. Run your machine back and forth across that elastic a few times to hold it in place. This should be right near the edge of the fabric, so once you sew your bag holder together, those stitches won't show.
When you get the elastic all the way through, do the same crazy-mad stitching on the other end.
This is what it will look like.
Hooray! You're about 2/3 of the way done!

Now turn up the seam on the other end of the bag. Press 1/4" and then another 1/2", just like you did when you made the casing. Run a straight seam along that baby.

Next, sew your tab (or ribbon) in place. This extra stitching will help keep the tab secure. I put it maybe 1/2" below the top of the bag holder. Stitch back and forth a few times.

Then, turn your bag inside out, matching up the long raw edges and keeping the tab inside the bag. Stitch along that seam, and do your best to match up the top and bottom. If you're like me, you get a little hasty and a tiny bit imprecise and they might be a little off. Don't berate yourself. It's a plastic bag holder, for cripe's sake.
Here she is, hanging on the back of the bathroom door. Doesn't she look proud of herself?

And here she is, looking even more proud, replete with lots of plastic bags.

So there you have it: a project that you can make in under an hour with minimal expense. If you don't have spare fabric, you could use a tea towel or a spare pillowcase cut to size. If you can sew a (relatively) straight seam, you can do this. Go for it.

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