For years, I simply stuffed my recycled plastic bags in an old, cracked plastic bucket under my sink. Very stylish! It was a mess, and nearly always overflowing. This clever plastic bag keeper/dispenser tidied things up perfectly. I put mine on the pantry door, but it would also work great over a doorknob, inside a cupboard or just hanging from a hook on the wall. Easy to store; easy to retrieve.

Our original sample was done in Patty Young’s Flora & Fauna collection for Michael Miller Fabrics. This collection is no longer available, but the options in current quilting weight cotton collections are boundless! Try a vibrant vibe with Delighted by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake, which we spotted at Fashionable Fabrics. Go graphic with Shades of Black by Me & My Sister Designs for Moda Fabrics, found at The Ribbon Retreat. Or, welcome in a little whimsy with Lottie Da by Heather Bailey for FreeSpirit Fabrics at Fat Quarter Shop.


Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • ⅓ yard of 45″ wide fabric for the hanging strap, top section, bottom section and highlight strips: we used Patty Young’s Flora & Fauna in Ebony Ta Dot
  • ¼ yard of 45″ wide fabric for the inner top and bottom panels: we used Patty Young’s Flora & Fauna in Lime Blossoms
  • ¼ yard of 45″ wide fabric for the middle panel: we used Patty Young’s Flora & Fauna in Stone Daisy Dot 
  • ¼ yard of medium weight fusible interfacing
  • ¼ yard of ¼” elastic
  • All purpose thread in colors to match fabric
  • Contrasting all purpose thread to coordinate with fabric for topstitching: we used bright green
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Large safety pin
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From Color A (Ebony Ta Dot in our sample), cut the following:
    For hanging strap: ONE 2″ x 11″ rectangle
    For top section: TWO 5″ x 20″ rectangles
    For bottom panel: ONE 5½” x 20″
    For highlight strips above and below middle panel: TWO 1½” x 20″ strips
  2. From Color B (Lime Blossoms in our sample), cut TWO 5″ x 20″ rectangles for the top and bottom panels.
  3. From Color C (Stone Daisy Dot in our sample), cut ONE 9″ x 20″ rectangle for the middle panel.
  4. From the interfacing, cut ONE 4″ x 19″ rectangle.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Optional: Finish the raw edges of each fabric piece by stitching around all sides with a simple zig zag. For more options and information on seam finishes, read our Machine Sewn Finishes four-part series, which starts with Most Popular

Hanging strap

  1. Lay the 2″ x 11″ Color A strip right side down on your ironing board.
  2. Fold strip in half lengthwise wrong sides together. Press folded edge.
  3. Open strip and fold in each edge to the pressed line. Press each fold. 
  4. Fold strip in half again bringing the folded edges together. Press again. Top stitch closed to folded edges along the 11″ side. The ends can remain raw.

Top section

  1. Center interfacing piece on the wrong side of one of the 5″ x 20″ Color A pieces. Fuse in place, following manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Fold this fused piece in half (so it is now 5″ x 10″), right sides together, and pin. With your fabric pen, make a mark 4¾” from the folded edge on both sides. This is where your hanging strap will be attached.
  3. Unfold. With the right side still facing up, pin your finished strap in place. One strap end aligns with each mark, raw edges flush. Make sure your strap isn’t twisted in between.
  4. Place the second 5″ x 20″ Color A piece on top, right sides together, sandwiching the strap between the layers. Pin in place along the top edge (the edge where the strap ends are pinned).
  5. Stitch along the top edge, staying right next to the interfacing but not stitching through it (it makes a cleaner seam line without any bulk from the interfacing caught up). To help reinforce the strap ends, stop with your needle in the down position after you stitch over the first strap, reverse back over the strap, then stitch forward again. This gives you three lines of stitching over the strap end. Continue your seam, and repeat the triple stitching when you reach the second strap. Stitch to the end of your fabric and back tack to finish.
  6. Open and press seam allowances to one side.
  7. Fold your newly seamed piece in half, right sides still together and the strap in between the layers. Your finished seam is perpendicular to your fold. Pin along short side.
  8. Stitch, using a ½” seam allowance.
    Click to Enlarge
  9. Turn right side out. Fold one side down to create an inside facing. Your strap will pop out at the top and the bottom raw edges of both sides will match up.
    Click to Enlarge
  10. Set finished top section aside.

Bag body

Working from the bottom up, you are going to piece strips together to make your bag body.

Click to Enlarge

  1. Find the Color A 5½” x 20″ rectangle and one Color B 5″ x 20″ rectangle. Pin, right sides together, along one long 20″ edge.
  2. Stitch together, using a ½” seam allowance. Press seams towards Color A fabric.
  3. Find one Color A 1½” x 20″ strip. Pin, right sides together, to the two-panel piece you just created along the 20″ Color B side.
  4. Stitch together, using a ½” seam allowance. Press seams towards Color A fabric.
  5. Find Color C 9″ x 20″ strip. Pin, right sides together, to the three-panel piece you just created along the 20″ Color A side.
  6. Stitch together, using a ½” seam allowance. Press seams towards Color A fabric.
  7. Find the remaining Color A 1½” x 20″ strip. Pin, right sides together, to the four-panel piece you just created along the 20″ Color C side.
  8. Stitch together, using a ½” seam allowance. Press seams towards Color A fabric.
  9. Find the remaining Color B 5″ x 20″ strip. Pin, right sides together, to the five-panel piece you just created along the 20″ Color A side.
  10. Stitch together, using a ½” seam allowance. Press seams towards Color A fabric.
  11. Re-thread your machine with contrasting thread.
  12. Top stitch close to the seam in the Color A fabric, creating one line of topstitching in the bottom panel and two lines of top stitching in each small highlight panel.
  13. Re-thread your machine with matching thread.
  14. Fold bag body in half right sides together. Pin the long edge.
  15. Stitch together, using a ½” seam allowance. Press seams open. Turn right side out.

Elastic casing

  1. Re-thread your machine with contrasting thread.
  2. Press under ½” along bottom of the bag body.
  3. Stitch close to raw edge to form a casing for the elastic, leaving a small opening to insert the elastic.
    NOTE: The contrasting thread will show against the bottom Color A panel, matching the look of the top stitching on the other Color A panels.
  4. Cut one 6″ length of elastic.
  5. Place a safety pin on end of the elastic. Feed this end through the casing, holding the opposite end in place with your fingers.
  6. Once the elastic is through the casing, overlap the elastic ends by ½”.
  7. Zig zag multiple times over the ends of the elastic to securely join.
  8. Close the hole in the casing by continuing straight stitch. Keep your stitching line right on top of the existing seam line. Remember to back tack or use a lock stitch at the beginning and end.

Attaching the top section to the bag body

  1. Re-thread your machine with matching thread.
  2. Turn the bag body inside out. Find your finished top piece (which should be right side out) and slip it inside the bag body so the two pieces are right sides together. The hanging strap should drop down into the middle of the bag and the raw edges of the top piece and the bag body should be aligned.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Pin in place all around.
    NOTE: If your machine has a free arm, this is a good time to use it. If not, the top opening is fairly large, so you should be able to keep your work flat as you sew.
  4. Stitch all around, using a ½” seam allowance, through all three layers.
  5. Pull the top out, then turn the whole bag right side out. Press the seam towards the top piece (the Color A fabric).
  6. One more re-thread … go back to your contrasting thread. Run one final line of topstitching around the top on the Color A side about ½” from the seam.
  7. Press again and fill with your recycled plastic bags.
    Click to Enlarge

Hints and Tips

Using a serger

You can opt to use a basic 4-thread serger for all your seam construction and/or seam finishing. A serged seam adds strength and always ‘looks’ more store-bought. If you own a cover stitch machine or a serger with a cover stitch option, you may want to use this type of stitch over your seams for an added decorative look.

Fabric with a directional pattern

Our fabric did not have a direction, however, if your fabric does, pay attention to how you seam the pieces so the fabric is facing in the right direction. Always pin first and look at your project prior to stitching.

Even without a directional pattern, it is very important you cut and sew your panel strips straight and accurately so the multiple panels are evenly horizontal around the bag.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever

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