This plastic bag holder tutorial is a simple, beginner sewing project! This is one bag to hold all your other bags. It’ll help you organize your space and add a bit of color while doing so. They also make really fun gifts!
A friend of mine asked if I could make her a plastic bag holder. Of course, I accepted! I looked online for a plastic bag holder tutorial or something. But none of them fit what I wanted it to look like. Most of them were just tubes with elastic at the top and bottom. Very basic. I usually like basic, but I thought it needed a little extra oomph!
So, I did what I do. I sat down with my graph paper and sketched out a plan. This plastic bag holder sewing tutorial is another fat quarter project! Yay! (Fat quarters are 18″ x 22″ pieces of fabric, sold at fabric stores that sell quilting fabric.)
I use reusable bags, but always end up with plastic grocery bags anyway! (You know how you forget sometimes– or Instacart brings you round a whole fresh crop of plastic bags!)
You could also use this bag to store other things. (I stuffed one with fabric scraps!)
Cutting the Fabric for Your Plastic Bag Holder
To make a plastic bag holder, you’ll need one fat quarter, a 4″ strip of a contrasting fabric, 2 small (4″ or so) pieces of elastic, and one small piece of ribbon (6″ or so). (You can also make a fabric “loop” to hang the bag by. It is up to you!)
Measure your fat quarter. It should be about 18″ x 22″, but sometimes they are slightly larger. You’ll want to cut your 4″ strip of contrast fabric so you have two 4″ strips to go across each 18″ side. If your fat quarter is 19″, then cut your strips 19″ to fit.
With the right sides together, sew the contrast strip to the main fabric along the 18″ edge. Repeat for the other side.
I serge all my edges, since I am usually selling what I make. If you’ve got a serger, go ahead and finish those edges. If you don’t have a serger, you can omit the finishing if you want, or you can pink or zig-zag the edge. Since this is not a wearable object, or an object that will get much washing (if any) it isn’t necessary to finish the edges at all. So, don’t feel bad if you choose to skip that step!
Ribbon or Fabric Loop to Hang Your Plastic Bag Holder
Pin your ribbon loop (or fabric loop) a couple inches from the top of the main fabric along the 22″ side. (Which is not a 30″ side, since you just attached two 4″ strips to the ends!) If you put your loop too high, you’ll be fighting it while you sew the elastic casing or it will end up on the ruffle. So, try to put it low enough it will be out of the way, but still at the top of the bag. (You can turn the top ruffle down and see where it will hit if that helps you. I just eyeball it and hope for the best!)
Fold your fabric in half long ways (with your contrast fabric on the top and bottom) and sew with right sides together. Serge or finish the edge as you did with the other seam!
Finishing the Top and Bottom of the Plastic Bag Holder
Serge the top and bottom edge of your contrast fabric (you can see above that the edge of the pink fabric is serged). If you want to skip that step, go right ahead!
Now, press the contrast edge in. (See above!) You want to leave about 1/2″ or so of your contrast fabric showing on the front.
(In the photo above, I am showing you the contrast fabric showing on the front.) Repeat for the opposite end. Press it down, leaving about 1/2″ (maybe a little more) showing on the front.
At this point, you’re bag is looking something like this. It reminds me of the cat tunnel project in In Stitches by Amy Butler. (Don’t know what project I’m referring to? It is a tube, much like this, lined with faux fur for your cat to play in.)
Now, we make our elastic casing! Yay! Sew along about 1/2″ from the edge of the contrast fabric. Then sew all the way around, sewing back over your first stitches.
Sew all the way around again, this time sewing as close to the edge as you can. Also, you’ll need to backstitch the ends and leave a small opening (preferably near the back center seam) to guide your elastic through.
Repeat for the other side! Now, you are almost done!
Adding Elastic to Plastic Bag Holder
Grab your two pieces of elastic!
Here is how I thread my elastic. I put a large safety pin along the back end. It keeps the elastic from slipping all the way through. (Believe me, that is a pain!) I attach a small safety pin to the front end (the end I’ll be pushing through the casing). Make sure your safety pins are firmly attached. It really sucks when a pin slips off because you put it too close to the edge.
Thread your elastic through the casing.
Sew your elastic together by overlapping it and sewing it with an “elastic” stitch. (The awkward looking zig-zag stitch on your machine that is more “lighting bolty” than “zig-zaggy.” If you don’t have that stitch, a small zig-zag will work. (You may have to reset the width of the zig-zag so it fits on the elastic.)
Repeat for the other side!
Flip and Fill Time
Flip it right side out an you’re done! I know, you’re wondering why I didn’t finish closing off those elastic casings! Well, to be honest, it is a pain in the butt and it serves no real purpose. You can fight through it and close them up if you’d like, but I see no reason to. I backstitched the ends, so I made sure it was nice and secure. The elastic is so tight, You’ll find great difficulty stretching it out to sew that little bitty hole closed. And I see no point in closing it. You can if you’d like, I don’t.
See the lovely loop on the back! You can hang it in your pantry or, if you’re like me, you can hang it on your kitchen wall! (Use some snazzy fabrics and you’ll liven your kitchen up!)
This is my favorite aspect of the design! The top and bottom “mouth” of your bag holder have a nice little flirty splash of contrast! I love it!
Go! Make some as gifts, for yourself, or sell some! (Yep. You can feel free to sell anything you make from any of my free designs.) As always, I just ask that you not take credit for the design and that you’d share the free tutorial with others! (No hoarding freeness!) Have fun!
I love it…Thank you for being very detailed. GREAT JOB!
what is the seam allowance on this project ?
Mine is about 1/4″ seam allowance. I serged my edges, then sewed right next to them. Although a larger seam allowance isn’t going to break this project. You’d be fine doing 1/2″ or even 3/4″.
Hello from Orange, New South Wales, Australia 🙂 I just wanted to say thank you for this fantastic plastic bag holder tutorial. I’ve been making (mine are slightly different) and selling them for several years now. If fact, they are my biggest selling item! I’ve been told by a few people that they are very difficult to find. I LOVE making them! Especially using quilting cotton with all the beautiful prints and colours available. If people ask where I got the idea from I will happily tell them 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing your idea/pattern. Just completed my first one. Can’t wait to finish the rest. Your instructions and picture are great. They are going to be great Christmas gifts!!! 🙂
Awesome! So glad they are helpful to you! They do make awesome gifts.
Thanks I have been looking for someone to who took pride in this little bag. I am new to sewing but knew there had to be a better way.
I made a few and think they’ll sell really well at the next arts/craft show.
Hi, Joan from Oxley VicAustralia, Love this pattern so easy. Guess what my family and friends are getting for Xmas ? thanks Have a good Xmas.