Introduction: Feed Bag Tote Bag

Picture of Feed Bag Tote Bag

We get our chicken feed in bags made of woven plastic. If they were paper I'd put them down under the mulch in the flower beds, but was stumped what to do with these. Then I realized that the bags we use for groceries were made from the same type fabric (DIMPA from IKEA). So I whipped out the sewing machine and came up with this version. I'm not that good at sewing, rather sloppy actually, but I managed to make one that I wouldn't be embarrassed to carry!

Step 1: Clean Out a Bag.

Picture of Clean Out a Bag.

Lay your bag out flat on the table.  Cut the string from the bottom strip and then even up the bottom of the bag.
Stitch along the bottom of the bag 1/4" from the bottom. 
Turn bag inside-out and sew along the bottom 1/2" from the bottom.  This gives you a French seam which encloses the cut edge and helps make it more durable.
Stand the bag open end down on the table and take the two corners and make "dog ears".  I measured 2 1/2"  from the corner and sewed across the corner.

Step 2: Sewing the Top.

Picture of Sewing the Top.

Turn bag right-side out.
Cut two 3 1/2" strips from around the top of the bag.  These will be the handles. 
Zig-zag the cut edge of the top.  Fold down 2" all around and sew.
Cut the handle strips 20" long and hand press 1/4" to the inside on both long sides.  Fold in half and sew down the long side.

Attach the handles to the bag as shown. 

And now you have successfully recycled a feed sack into something useful!

Step 3: Yay!

Picture of Yay!

The finished bag.


Nanasews2 (author)2017-07-20

Great instructions! Here is a tip that helped me. I plan out several projects at once and use an assembly line process, beginning by removing all the strings and soaking several bags together in a tub with enough water for them to float. After a few minutes in warm soapy water, I use a large soft brush to clean out all the remnents of feed. I then rinse and hang over the tub with pants hangers until they are dry. If this is not feasable, you can skip the soaking step. After removing the string seam, lay each bag out flat on driveway, spray with garden hose, sprinkle with a bit of dawn and brush away the grime & rinse. These dry quickly on the clothesline It's nicer to have fresh clean materials to make your projects. Thanks again for sharing your instructions!

marialanger made it! (author)2017-06-02

This worked great BUT for my feed bags, cutting the handles from the bottom (before sewing it closed, of course) ensured that the chick pictures were intact. Made for a cuter bag. Photo shows (left to right) last, first, and second bag I made. (Took me three tries to get it right!) Thanks so much for these great instructions!

CindiH8 (author)2017-02-25

The directions are great. A few people suggested ironing the finished bag. I did iron the bag, but it didn't seem to make a difference. Any suggestions?

KristyK3 (author)2016-01-02

This is the easiest set of instructions I've seen so far, and looks every bit as good as others out there. I can sew a bit, but I would never consider myself a "seamstress". I have saved hundreds of horse feed bags thinking I'd give them away to people with more talent than I. It seemed so wasteful to me to throw them away. Now I can do something with them! Maybe even give away a few to people at the market, or to little girls who would like a tote bag with a picture of a horse on it. Now I am off to dig my sewing machine out of the closet and get started!

joy2bHeer (author)KristyK32017-01-14

How did making these work out for you?

kathymat (author)2017-01-08

Hello there everyone ... hopefully this page is still being monitored and someone will be able to answer my question. I am wondering what sewing machine foot everyone uses for this project. Did you find you needed a teflon or a walking foot? Appreciate hearing opinions. Thanks so much!

dianne.sears.9 (author)2015-02-26

Has anyone figured out HOW to iron these bags? I make them, but some are wrinkled, how to iron?

I just found this and can't wait to try it! I have been saving bags to use in the garden but the animal faces are just too cute to cover with dirt :) When I start mine I am going to try and just put a thin towel over the bag and iron the towel. I have used this trick on other delicate items and it works well. You may have to iron a bit longer though.

MichelleK99 (author)2016-09-17

I used one of those webbed belts that comes with virtually every pair of pants/shorts for the handles. Makes it quicker and the bag larger.

amae5 (author)2016-06-19

Im trying to figure out how to make a sleeping bag cover from one and this gives me a good direction to go from

IreneW5 made it! (author)2016-04-12

I just made my first, with 4 more bags sitting here to be done. Actually I'm wondering if it wouldn't make things a bit easier if you took the handle strips off first. That would be less bag to have to handle turning inside out and back again. Also maybe I read the directions wrong but I cut off 2 strips for handles. When I measured, one strip made both handles.
Regular thread and needle worked fine for me. Actually I was very suprised since I just pulled my Singer out of the closet for the first time in 15 years to make these bags. It is working like a champ!
I was reading some of the comments and "Thanks!" I never would have thought to use my dog and cat food bags, just didn't come to mind. So thank you all.
My one suggestion might be to show clearer pictures, especially when it comes to the handles. I realize this isn't rocket science, but as someone who hasn't touched my machine in over 15 years, I was seeking lots of details that weren't clearly defined or pictured. In the end it all came out fine and I'm sure further bags will have straighter more even stitching and straighter seams but overall a great tutorial!!! THANKS!!!

LeFleche (author)2013-04-20

Please Help! I am trying like crazy to make these bags and can't make it work! I have a new Brother sewing machine that doesn't do it. I used regular thread and needle and the thread just broke. So then I've tried a heavy duty needle and quilting thread, it balls up on the bottom. I borrowed an old White Rotary Machine, it balls up/knots up on the bottom also! Also using a heavy duty needle and heavy thread. Tried normal thread in the old machine and thread just broke. It seems like everyone else can do this and I'm totally frustrated! I have people that want to buy these from me but I can't get it to work right.

DonnaB87 (author)LeFleche2016-02-02

I have a Brother also, and it has loops on the underside and jams up like it's metal on metal. Will take it apart and oil it and adjust the feed dog too. Then, I will get another feed dog for the top. My old machine had one of these and they work awesome.

craftydabbler (author)LeFleche2013-04-20

I'm so sorry you're having problems with your machine! I have a Sears Kenmore and mine was doing the same thing. I tried everything: rewinding the bobbin, changing both tensions, using different threads, when I finally gave up and took it to the Sears store for them to have a look. They sent it off, and the tech called me and said that it just needed cleaning (it was still pretty new!) and that I should be using plastic bobbins in this model (I was using metal). That did it - it worked like it was supposed to after that. Google your model and see if anyone else has your problem. It could be something just as simple. I hope this helps.

mswiggles (author)2015-01-20

How do you remove the grease like film and smell from bags like dog food and cat food bags

DonnaB87 (author)mswiggles2016-02-02

I wiped them down with 409 and a sponge. Worked just fine.

TTownTerri (author)mswiggles2015-02-10

I use windex and the grease and pet food smell is gone.

sharon.paull.31 (author)2014-07-26

They are so easy to make and 101 uses too, I have also made a few "Aprons" which are great for in the garden, chook shed and even in my rabbit shed :)

Beautiful! Do you have more detailed pictures? I make all kinds of totes out of feed-bags with my Brownies (we use duct tape instead of sewing, since little girls won't be carrying anything that heavy). But aprons would be awesome!

Nammaw (author)2015-12-28

For the feed sack bags. I added a cloth liner which made them even nicer and you could also add an interior pocket.

JenniferAndersonFly (author)2014-10-21

Can you tell me what size needle and type of thread you used. I haven't sewn in ages, but would think with the slick/thin material you'd need a certain type of needle.

I used a "16" needle and heavy duty thread (made for sewing denim). I hope this helps!

Love it....however my stitches didn't come out that even:( and next time I'll cut off the handles from the bottom of the bag so more of the imagine is saved. Thanks for sharing......

kradd (author)craftydabbler2015-07-29

thank you

Did you try the size 16 needle? I tried to make a feed bag tote today and just kept breaking needles too. I sure would like to be able to make these cute tote bags.

HorseyGal (author)2012-01-06

@Lee: what a great idea! Use them as grow bags!!! If anyone on here has some chicken feed bags they would like to "trade" for some horse feed bags, please message me! We can ship them to eachother flat and use them for whatever! :-)

Batamom (author)HorseyGal2015-10-15

Sorry, forgot to add my email address.

Batamom (author)HorseyGal2015-10-15

I would love to trade

cheryl.barton.92 (author)2015-02-27

Does anyone else have trouble with your thread being loopy? I have adjusted my tensions and am using heavy thread, but sometimes it just does not sew very well.......any suggestions?

always sew slow and be sure your needle is in down position when stopped. I have created a shade barrier for my chickens and other covers using these bags.

Besides adjusting the thread tensions I also had to adjust the feeddog- mine has numbers 0-3 and I tried it on all of them until I got it to sew better.

I am having same issue. I would like suggestions on this as well. I have successfully made a tote that looked great exception of the loopy thread and bunching,

Quiltygal (author)2015-01-12

This is neat. I may need this pattern with the cost of eggs going up here in CA. I'll have to start keeping chickens again. I live in one of the few cities that allows it. Thanks!

HedyH (author)2015-01-03

I saw these a few years back at a flea market. The only difference was that the lady who made them used woven fabric for the handles. She said her daughter wanted something waterproof for her books so she thought of this tote. She used Velcro at the top to close the flaps if anyone wanted them closed. I haven't made them but I sure have the bags, guess now I will make a few.

kim.spangrude (author)2014-09-06

My sister started making these - I don't think she had seen the tutorial first but I can't be sure. They are so cute and make a great present or even the bag that holds the present. Now that California has passed a law banning the use of plastic grocery sacks in stores, these will be very useful and important to have!

jflaca (author)2014-09-03

Great Idea!! I came online to specifically search for ways to "upcycle" my feed bags and ran across your instructable. I have goat, pig, and chicken feed bags. Also dog and cat food bags. I hated tossing all those good strong bags in the trash so I started looking for ideas for ways to reuse them. Thanks!!

star1706 (author)2014-07-22

awesome idea!

Brookings101 (author)2013-12-22

This is an awesome idea, I am saving all my feed and scratch bags now and even asking friends for theirs. I too, had a problem with my needle breaking, how I remedied that was not sewing so fast with the foot pedel, slowed it down and it all worked out just fine. I am giving them out to friends as gifts, they just love them. You are right, I would have just thrown them away, and this is excellent recycling. They are extremely strong, I filled one with only bottles of water, soda and millk and it held up perfectly. I love how it's water proof. There are so many uses for this, not just groceries. I am pretty sure they will last a very long time, really difficult to tear or rip. Thanks for the idea. :)

jgs727 (author)2013-11-04

I LOVE this bag, I just wish I needed chicken feed so I could have the bag to make the tote!

morahlaura (author)2013-10-02

Love this! I used your ible to make camp bags for the kids this summer; they held up really well to wet bathing suits and the rocks and things kids like to bring home. I'm going to make some new ones for the kids to bring their snow clothes back and forth to school in. Thanks!!

tomandcindybaird (author)2013-06-17

Awesome!!! I'm so excited. I've been saving feed bags, but couldn't find the instruction. Thank you so very much.

jeldie (author)2013-01-22

Such a great idea. Thanks for the easy to follow instructions. Off to the chicken feed bags :)

HorseyGal (author)2011-12-17

I work at a horse farm and we use Purina feeds (which usually has super cute pics on the front) and I was THRILLED to see your tutorial on this! thank you for sharing! I got a sewing machine as an early Christmas gift and went to work on these last night! I did it! I have never sewn in my life and I actually have made two of these now! SUPER EASY and SUPER DURABLE project! Thanks! Oh and I used a 14 needle for this one..

peaceluv1969 (author)HorseyGal2012-03-19

I am wondering if anyone on here that does these bags would be willing to make some for a Humane Society? Mostly Cats...Is what I am looking for.
I would be willing to pay a small fee or whatever you would find reasonable.
I would have this as a continuing thing and have them as Fund Raisers. Is anyone willing to help out somebody that does not sew at all?? For a good cause? Thank you, my email is:

siouxbaum (author)peaceluv19692012-08-26

Did anyone offer to do this for you? My boys and I are looking at making them for their 4H recycling project - we'd be glad to try if still interested. You can contact me at Thanks

craftydabbler (author)HorseyGal2011-12-17

Congratulations on your first sewing project....I LOVE how they turned out!!! Thank you for sharing :-)

HorseyGal (author)craftydabbler2011-12-17


jadedladi (author)2012-07-17

I am liiking for these feed bags to make my own market totes. If anyone is interested in selling me in unfinished bags please contact me!!!
Mary Jo

Lee-in-Iowa (author)2011-12-20

Thanks! I've just gotten chickens (6 months ago) and have been feeling guilty about tossing all these sturdy bags into the trash (actually, I"ve used them as trash bags, but still, it's a waste). I'll try this. I may also just reinforce the bottoms, add a few slits for drainage, and use them as "grow bags" like the "Tater Totes" on this site.

rosewood513 (author)Lee-in-Iowa2012-03-23

You can use these as florist cloth to keepeds out of your garden,just cut hte bags open and lay it down and put mulch on top keep the weeds off. You may want to poke some holes to let in the water.Just a thought.

About This Instructable




Bio: I live in Texas with my husband, 5 children, 3 dogs, 3 chickens, and a parrot.
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