Introduction: 35mm Film Bag

Picture of 35mm Film Bag

Historically, 35mm film was made of triacetate, but newer film is made of mylar. This newer film is surprisingly durable, and can be pieced together to construct handbags and tote bags in a variety of sizes and shapes. The steps that follow document the construction of a medium-sized tote bag, but you can vary the measurements to make any type of bag you'd like.

Also check out the photos-only 'ible of this super cool bag!

Step 1: You'll Need. . .

Picture of You'll Need. . .

Step 2: Cutting Strips and Piecing

Picture of Cutting Strips and Piecing
To construct this bag, the following strips of film are needed:
  • 14 strips 12" long (7 per side)
  • 2 strips 12" long (for the handles)
  • 2 strips 26" long (for the sides and the bottom)
  1. Begin by threading your needle and overlapping the sprockets of two of the 12" strips
  2. Stitch through the sprockets to hold the two strips together (an up-and-down type stitch is suggested)
  3. Add another strip overlapping one of the two existing strips and sew through the sprockets to connect the strips
  4. Continue until you have affixed 7 strips to each other to form a sheet of film
  5. Repeat with the other 7 12" strips
  6. Fold up approximately an inch of each side of each of the two sheets so that the cut ends are not exposed

Step 3: Sides, Bottom, and Handles

Picture of Sides, Bottom, and Handles
  1. Overlap the edges of the 26" long pieces and sew through the sprockets to connect them to one another (an up-and-down type stitch is suggested)
  2. Align the cut edge of the side piece with one of the sheets and sew through to connect them (an over-hand stitch is suggested)
  3. Continue around the bottom edge sewing through the sprockets before sewing up the third side
  4. Repeat to affix the second sheet to the side/bottom pieces
  5. Position the remaining 12" pieces where you would like your handles and sew to secure them to the bag (an up-and-down type stitch is suggested)
  6. Show off your awesome new bag!


yoyology (author)2012-03-15

I wish I'd seen this earlier today. I was at an estate sale where they had some 8mm home movies going for a song. That would work just as well, yes? (Assuming it's the same material).

shesparticular (author)yoyology2012-03-15

I'm not positive if it is the same, since it depends a lot on when the film is from, but it would certainly make for a pretty cool project! Sorry you missed the opportunity to pick up those films!

wish2snowboard (author)2011-03-16

i work at a movie theater where we have lots of extra film normally. we dont have any right now, but in april we're gonna have more, so i thinking about making a belt by putting them on top of each other, instead of sewing them next to each other.

Get some bright white leader and put a few layers under the top piece to make the image show. You'll have to find a particularly light scene to make this work since you won't have any light passing through the film. I used to make a series of bowls from movie film and found that scenes with lots of sky or flames and explosions work well.

You'll also probably need an army or boy scout type buckle with a sliding clamp since the film would probably tear immediately with a traditional buckle.

Good luck, and don't forget to post!

Sounds like a great idea!

whitemanwalking (author)2011-05-06

Thanks for the fantastic Instructable! I've recently used it too make this bag for my girlfriend. Oh, and apologies for the dirty floor in the photograph...

That looks awesome! Fantastic work!

two-eight (author)2011-03-28


shesparticular (author)two-eight2011-03-28

Thanks so much!

mr.squeakers (author)2011-03-14

i want to make a wallet out of this and where did you get the film

I think a wallet would be very cool!

As noted above, I was able to track down a trailer on eBay - there are lots of them available there but newer ones are suggested since they're cheaper and are more likely to be mylar film.

mb.marcie (author)2011-03-10

I think this would be even better if you could see the images- maybe white fabric backing or in between layers. :) Loooks fun!

shesparticular (author)mb.marcie2011-03-11

While it may be difficult to tell from these photos, you actually can see the images since the bag is only a single layer of film. You could certainly line it though if you chose to.

foobear (author)2011-03-10

so cool!

shesparticular (author)foobear2011-03-10

Thank you!

Redline_lover (author)2011-03-07

Looks great! Just one concern, Isn't 35mm film sypposed to be really flammable?

While older film stock (non-mylar) was/is super flammable, mylar film is less so (at least from what I've read online). I haven't tried to set any on fire, but I don't imagine it would be significantly more flammable than a cotton or other cloth bag (if someone has more info, please do let me know).

Thanks for the question!

jb17kx (author)shesparticular2011-03-10

There are essentially three generations of film supports ("bases") that have been used over time. The first is cellulose nitrate, which is the extremely flammable one because when it's not being used for film it's known as guncotton.

Since the mid-1930s cellulose acetate films began to replace nitrate, with cellulose triacetate ending up replacing nitrate film in full in the West by the early 1950s. All was well and good, however we have come to learn that acetate film has its own problems; namely that under certain storage conditions acetic acid can be released from the base and cause the film to disintegrate.

The third, which has been around for as long as acetate but didn't come to much use until the early '90s, is polyester (Kodak's trade name for it is ESTAR). Its main advantages are that it's a) not flammable (but it will melt), and b) it's incredibly resistant to failure under tension or sheer force (but the downside is that an ESTAR jam in a projector will more likely destroy the projector rather than the film).

Provided you are using new trailers you will be fine. I'd suggest only using trailers for another reason too: older trailers, even pre-2000, are becoming increasingly harder to get for those people who actually want to preserve them or actually show them.

jb17kx (author)jb17kx2011-03-10

I feel I should also point out that it's not the 35mm part that makes the film flammable ;) Nitrate film was made in many sizes, including sheet films for still cameras.

shesparticular (author)jb17kx2011-03-10

Thanks for the additional info!

ilpug (author)2011-03-06

A great way to recycle! i might try to make a wallet out of all the old film i have. Will camera film from still cameras work too?

shesparticular (author)ilpug2011-03-06

I was hoping to get around to trying a wallet - please do post photos if you do!

I think still camera film (as long as it's developed) would work just as well, and as far as I know it's the same material. I think it'd be very cool to make a wallet out of negatives from family vacations, etc.

jb17kx (author)shesparticular2011-03-10

You may not have the same success. Most still-camera film is still on the more fragile acetate bases.

ChrysN (author)2011-03-08

Great job, it looks amazing!

shesparticular (author)ChrysN2011-03-08

Thanks so much!

porcupinemamma (author)2011-03-07

Very very cool! wondering if black tape would work as "seam binding" on edges of handles? I really want to try this. You make the coolest Instructables!!

That is so nice of you, thank you!

Personally I would probably use a heavy yarn and just do an over-hand stitch along the edges of the handles. That would cover them, and unlike tape, you wouldn't have to worry about it coming off (I'm also not sure how well tape would stick to the mylar film).

Thanks again! Please do post photos if you try it out!

euparkeeria (author)2011-03-06

Is it comfortable to carry? I have been cut my film before and was wondering how the handles are.

Looks like a cool bag!

It's similar to a standard tote bag, though I guess the handles are a little thinner. I haven't had a problem with being cut by them or anything like that, but you could use fabric to construct handles and sew those on instead if you're concerned about it.

Thanks for the awesome question!

mikeasaurus (author)2011-03-06

looks awesome!
how much weight can it hold?

Thanks! I've used it to carry my wallet, keys, cell phone, and a book so far and it seems to be holding up just fine. Using yarn instead of regular thread would likely result in it being even stronger.

Dr. Pepper (author)2011-03-06



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