Introduction: Plastic Bag Dispenser (made of Cloth)

My family saves plastic shopping bags for reuse for their original purpose or throwing rubbish away. The latter is especially important as we live in a flat with a rubbish chute under the kitchen sink, so the bags are the perfect size to fit through the hatch. (Although, in previous homes where we lived in a house and had to carry the rubbish to the road for the garbage-men, we always used shopping bags anyway. I was baffled the first time I encountered the American way of buying perfectly clean new plastic bags to put rubbish in.)

The problem is that we usually just hang the plastic bags on the kitchen window which ends up being very untidy. I remembered seeing a sort of sausage for storing plastic bags in someone's house a long time ago, so here's my version of how to make one.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Fabric - any reasonably sturdy kind, I used some cheap cotton left over from making a door curtain.

Basic sewing stuff
  • Thread
  • Elastic
  • Needles
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Safety pin - VERY IMPORTANT.

Sewing machine - not required, but it certainly makes life easier.

Iron - not required but also helpful.

Step 2: Make a Tube

All measurements in this Instructable are rough "eyeball" estimates. I've left the days when I would measure arts and crafts down to the millimetre in my lonely and miserable childhood.

We need to make a thin fabric tube to make a loop to hang up the plastic bag holder. If you want to use a ribbon or a piece of cord instead, skip this step.

Cut a piece of fabric about 3 cm (bit over an inch) wide. Fold in half and sew the sides together with as small a seam as you can manage to make a skinny tube.

Turn it inside out as follows: Attach the safety pin to one side of one end. Turn the pin around and put it into the opening. Push the fabric along the pin, hold the head of the pin inside the fabric, and pull the gathered fabric off the end - this can be a bit difficult. Once the pin reaches the end you can pull it out and continue inverting the tube.

Step 3: Cut and Sew the Bag

Cut enough fabric to make a tube big enough to stuff a couple dozen plastic bags into. It helps if you make the tube wide enough to fit around the "arm" of your sewing machine since the ends of the tube will be sewn up afterwards.

Begin to sew the long sides together, but leave about 5 cm (2 in) unsewn at the beginning. As you get near the end, put in a loop made of the tube you made in the previous step. If you're not familiar with sewing, remember that the side facing outside now will actually be the inside so make sure you put the loop in the right way around...

As you reach the end of the sewing, again leave about 5 cm free.

Iron the seam flat to make life easier.

Step 4: Elasticate the Openings

Hem the openings: Fold over about 0.5 cm of the raw edge of one end of the bag and then fold over again about 2 cm. Pin and sew it down, making a tubular hem. This is why you should have made the tube big enough to fit around the arm of your sewing machine. Repeat for the other end.

Cut two lengths of elastic. Using the safety pin trick described in a previous step, thread each hem with a piece of elastic and tie the ends of the elastic together. Estimate how tight it should be to keep the plastic bags in, but loose enough to stuff them into the top and pull them out the bottom easily. The top opening of the bag can be a bit looser and the bottom can be a bit tighter.

Step 5: Hang Up and Stuff With Plastic Bags!

I made a larger one for the dustbin-sized plastic bags and a shorter one for small bags that we use for buying takeaway food, fruit, etc.

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