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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

No-Sew Shopping Bag from Post-Consumer Trash

Do any of you have a bad eating habit?  I do!  One of my bad habits is Jimmy John's Sandwich Shop--the sandwiches aren't bad for me (I have them without mayo or cheese to reduce the fat/calories), but I just can't seem to bring myself to eat a sandwich without eating a bag of chips.  That is just not the American way!

So, I started keeping my chip bags to use to make a bigger, reusable shopping bag.  Here's the result:

What do you need?
*  16 (or more) chip bags...You don't have to use single serving chip bags...If you are using big bags, you would (of course) need fewer!
*  Something for the bottom of the bag.  If you have enough chip bags, you could just use those.  I used TYVEK (strong grey plastic used for shipping weird shaped stuff) that was wrapped around something that was delivered to our house
*  Duct Tape - whatever color you want to use or can find.  I used red, made in the USA duct tape purchased from my local Ace Hardware store.
*  Scissors
*  Measuring instrument...I used my rotary cutter, mat, and ruler.  It worked awesome!
*  Patience

How do you do it?
1)  Cut the fronts off of the chip bags, and clean the grease off with soap and water.  Allow to dry completely.  Try to keep approximately the same border around the front graphics...this will just make your life easier in the following steps.  If one of them tears down the middle -- just throw it will cause more havoc than it is really worth.

2)  Cut the chip bag fronts so that they are all the same size; Mine measured 5" wide by 7 1/4" long.  This isn't as exact as quilting, so you can fudge a little, but the closer they are to the same size the better.

3)  Make the front and back of your bag.  Cut a 15" piece of duct tape (or however big you need based on the recycled items you are using) and lay it down sticky side up.  Carefully put the top left corner chip front down the approximate middle of the duct tape.  Add the bottom left chip bag front down the approximate middle of the duct tape, trying to line up the designs so that they match.  Add the middle chip bag front to the remaining exposed duct tape; then the middle chip bag bottom. 

Cut another 15" piece of duct tape and repeat the process with the right side of the middle section and added the left side pieces.

4)  Cut another piece of duct tape and tape the horizontal seams on the inside of the bag.  Repeat for the other large side of the bag (6 bags for front large side; 6 bags for back large side.)

This is what the wrong side of the bag front/back should look like when completed.
5)  For the narrow side pieces, tape two chip bags together on the short side (inside of the bag.)

6)  Trim any excess tape and measure to make sure the front/back measurement is approximately the same and narrow side measurements are also approximately the same.

7)  Cut duct tape 15" long and then divide into four equal pieces (the long way) so that you have 4-15" pieces that are around 1/2" wide.  Use the pieces to cover the right-side the seams.

8)  Cut the bottom--15" long by 5" wide.

9)  Join the wrong side seams to the bottom so that a "+" is made.
Ignore the odd piece of red duct tape underneath the left side of the picture...just forgot to remove it before snapping the picture.
10)  Now for the tricky part!  Make the standing corners by cutting 15" pieces of duct tape and attaching to the wrong side of the short sides.  (I did one corner at a time.)  Try to match the front seams together to get a nice look.

I know it is a strange picture, but I am trying to show you how the finished corner should look on the inside of the bag.
11)  Once all of the inside corner seams have been taped together, you can do the outside corner seams by cutting 15" by 1/2" pieces of duct tape to go around all 8 corner seams.
12)  Put a single piece of tape all the way around the top of the bag to give it some extra strength.

13)  Add the cashier loop:  Roll a 5" piece of duct tape the long way and make into a 'U' shape.  Tape to the inside of the bag in the middle, back side of the bag.

14)  To make the handles, fold 2- 24" pieces of duct tape in half which will give you 2- 12" pieces.  Tape as desired on the wrong side front and wrong side back of the bag.

End cap--If I do another bag like this, I think I will use contrasting tape instead of tape that blends in so well.  I think black duct tape may have been a better choice.  Also, I don't know if I like the handles, but they will work for now.  Maybe you have a better idea for the handles.  I think that narrowing the handles to 1" might feel more comfortable in your hand.  If you went with 1" wide handles, you would only need 1-24" piece doubled over instead of the 2 listed in step 14.

I thought pretzel M&M bags would be cute, but I sure don't need to eat that many bags of those things! 

I will be adding a post with links to online bag patterns later on today in case you are interested.

What do you think of this project?  What are you working on to further your creativity? 

Hope you are having a wonderful day, and take care of you.


  1. Brilliant! I love this bag and the detailed instructions are fantastic and so helpful. Thanku - I may now just need to eat more things in packets so that I can make one!

    1. Thank you for reading! I'm glad you like it.

  2. Could you sew the bags? Just wondering.

  3. I would think you could, but you might have to reinforce the seam with something or even use a double layer instead of a single layer. I think it would be okay to sew smaller bags, but I don't know if the "holes" from the sewing would weaken the bag if it was large. Hope that helps!