Picture of DIY Tarp Cover Made From Feed Sacks
Here is another useful project that was made from something that would have been tossed into the trash. In the last 5 years I have noticed a lot of our Livestock & Pet's Feed sacks are all made of Tarp Like Material with great graphics. I began saving the bags for future projects because I knew there was something I can make besides shopping bags.

I searched Instructables and Google for anything made besides shopping bags & purses from these feed sacks and the search result showed next to nothing.

This feed sack project idea came about when I needed a tarp to cover some hay temporarily. It was a great way to learn how to use this material, in turn this project has given me some ideas for future projects, projects that will include their graphics. We have a small farm and we buy our livestock & pet products from Tractor Supply Store. Sense we shop there at least once a week I don't have a problem of not having enough feed sacks for my future projects.

What I liked about this project is it was basically free the only thing I had to buy was sewing thread. If your into being GREEN and Saving the Environment or just Saving Money this project is for you.
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Step 1:

Picture of
Tools & Material Needed:

Feed Sacks (I used 15 sacks to get a 91"x195" Tarp)
Dish Washing Soap & Scrubbing Brush
Sewing Machine
Sewing Machine Needles for heavy material
2 Outdoor UV Resistant Sewing Thread (Walmart)
Several Clips

A LOT of elbow-room
You can Do this Project by yourself but it will be a lot easier if you recruit a helper

Step 2: Preparing Feed Sacks

Picture of Preparing Feed Sacks
Remove the seam at the bottom of the Feed Sack. The easiest way requires luck, if you pull on the correct string the whole seam will unravel. If your not you will have to use scissors or seam ripper.

Find the glued seam on the sack, here is where it will be separated to make a 44"x32" flat sheet. Once you have pulled it apart enough to get a solid grip with both hands then pull it apart fast and it will come apart cleanly with no snags. If you pull gently it will hang up and tare. Once pulled apart you may have to trim the edges.

Lay sheets out to the size you want, my tarp required 15 Feed Sacks.

Wash feed sacks using dish washing soap. My stock tank sure made it easy scrubbing them.

Step 3: Sewing

Picture of Sewing
To make My Tarp it took 5 sheets for 1 row X's 3.

Set you stitch at the longest setting and be sure your using the heavy duty sewing machine needle.

To make a row make a double seam on the 32" edge and the side you want exposed facing each other.

This is where the Extra Person comes in handy. When sewing have your helper sit on the opposite side of sewing machine to help pull and guide the feed sack as you sew.

Lay the 1st row down with the good side facing up then lay the second row on top of the 1st row with bad side facing up. Have your helper stand at the opposite end so you can pull to make the row lay flat. Place several clips on one side to help hold in in place. You and your Helper are ready to take it to the sewing machine to be given a double stitch.

Repeat this process for the second row. As you can see in the photos having elbow room and a Helper makes the project easier but not necessary.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches
You will need to put a hem around your tarp to prevent unraveling. You will be making your folds for your hem as you sew by folding twice so the cut edge is hidden. The clips are handy keeping the folds in place while you sew.

To make the tie straps cut 44" strip 3" wide.
Fold the strip in half and press to make a crease.
Fold both edges in till they meet center crease then press.
Fold in half and sew in place.

Place the strip at the edge of the tarp's edge and extend it out then fold it to the width you want. Then sew it on putting sewing machine forward  and reverse several times. Then cut the remaining strip off. Repeat this step till have the amount of tie straps you want.

Your Tarp Is Finished
vconery2 years ago
I used 6 # test fishing line ~(don't forget to fill your bobbins), made 'blue jean' seams to connect the sheets and added grommets every foot around 'hemmed' (fold over the edges 1/2 inch bigger than your grommet) edge. weatherproof and strong! as of today, feb.5 2013 i have been using my original tarp for 2 years to cover my tent camping and outside during winter (MI) covering my boat. it is moderately sun faded but still very strong. made a few since but i am currently working on a 'car port' for a '74 veedub. hope something helps
if you don't mind a bit of a smell you can even iron the seams and melt the plastic to make the seams a little stronger and more water resistent
MrE2 years ago
Does it leak at the seams?
spottedwalker (author)  MrE2 years ago
Sorry MrE for being late. My Laptop quit working got a new one. Yes On my DIY Shelter Kennel Cover From Feed Sacks it did leak a little after a big rain. My plan tarp had a slight leak because it was not stretched tight like the one for the kennel. We fixed it by giving it a small bead of silicone caulk on the seams. I wouldn't put the caulk on until the tarp has been stretched out for a few days.
Hi all, this my first post , I recently discovered by trial & error that you can use that supa glue that you get at the elcheapo shop for $2 for 8 tubes to plastic weld certain types of fabric style plastics . I managed to make several waterproof joins using old street banners , I got about 1 foot out of each tube , & had to do a 1 inch wide squiggle , then spread it out or flatten it with a scraper to create a wide seal . It all depends on the properties of the plastic / vinyl & the glue . Experiment with any glues on different plastics , Plastic model glues , plastic crafts / leather bonding agents etc, Be sure to do small test patches & do it outside, as some combinations can be combustable ( Be Careful ) Generally the more nasty smelling the better , good luck .
MrE2 years ago
Does it leak at the seams?
CaseyCase2 years ago
Would overlapping the individual bags a bit and fusing them together with an iron be a possible option for those of us without mad sewing machine skills?
I tried fusing some bags like this with the iron. It didn't work for me. The bags shrunk up and warped even before it was hot enough to fuse together. Sewing seems to be necessary if you aren't going to heat the entire plastic sheet.
Technically this material is fabric so the best option is going to be sewing.

I don't think an iron would work. Even if the iron gets hot enough to melt the plastic, it will also weaken the area around the seam unless you can precisely control the heat (which an iron won't do).

You might be able to find a glue which will give you a strong bond but it will end up being very stiff along the seams and prone to breaking (especially in the cold.

thirst4know2 years ago
Excellent. I have seen many use this technique to make interesting bags/packs. I have some cat food sacks I am saving to make ???
JKPieGuy2 years ago
Good way to recycle and to save some money so that you won't be buying new tarps, plus you can now make any size tarp that you desire! :)
q.piper2 years ago
Good idea! I save all the plastic feed sacks (recycle the paper ones) and open them up for little "mini tarps" but it never occurred to me to stitch them together.
gimanabisa2 years ago
I'll try to do it myself, thanks instructables..
If you're still looking for ideas for feedbags (this is an awesome one btw) look up earthbag buildings. you can save up a whole bunch, fill them with dirt, and use them to build small things like a garden shed, or big things like a house. There's even a few instructables about them. My husband and i have been collecting feedbags from multiple farmers in our area for over a year now. we have access to a baler and bale them when we get enough. we're collecting to build our dream zero net energy consumption house, and we want to spend less than $1000 dollars out of pocket for construction by utilizing as much recycled and repurposed items as possible while building. the feedbags are a big part of that. great instructable!
l8nite2 years ago
great recycling idea !