Introduction: Plastic Bottles Into Handbag

Picture of Plastic Bottles Into Handbag

Recently I was invited to a party and I found myself in need of a new handbag. And since I don't really like to "waste" money for something I might use only a couple of times, I decided to make myself one. I was in a little bit of a rush so it's far from perfect, but I'm quite happy with the result. My sewing skills and knowledge are quite limited, so please forgive me if the instructions don't quite make sense :)

Materials and tools I used:


  • 4 x 2 litre water bottles
  • black fabric (old shirt)
  • pink fabric (old dress)
  • green fabric (old shirt)
  • zipper
  • belt
  • black, pink, green thread
  • 6 x snap buttons


  • Scissors
  • hobby knife
  • marker
  • ruler
  • sewing machine
  • stapler
  • fabric pencil
  • iron
  • needle
  • binder clips
  • pliers
  • washable fabric marker
  • pins

Step 1: Prepare the Bottles

Picture of Prepare the Bottles

Remove all labels from your bottles and clean off the sticky residue (I like to use lighter fluid, but if you don't have/don't want to use this, there are plenty of other solutions out on the internet). Take the hobby knife and puncture the bottle just after it curves. Cut the top of the bottle off with scissors. Carry on cutting through the body of the bottle in a straight line until you reach the bottom. Then cut off the bottom of the bottle. Wipe if necessary.

Step 2: Pattern

Picture of Pattern

Print out the template provided and stick the first page onto your worktop to keep it in place. Tape a bottle piece onto the top of the template and draw the lines with a ruler and marker . Repeat for the other three pieces. Take the second and third page of the template, tape the piece onto the worktop again and trace the shapes onto the bottle pieces.

Place the bottle pieces into the sewing machine one at a time and sew over the lines with a black thread. Try to do this slowly as the plastic sheet won't always travel through the machine so smoothly, it can get stuck anywhere the surface isn't flat. Once done, cut out the front and back, sides and the bottom.

Clean the bottle pieces with a cotton pad and alcohol. Cut off the corners of the bottom piece.

Score all of the sides of the bottom piece and the sides of the side pieces with a hobby knife. Don't be too harsh, you don't want to cut them off, this is just to make it easier to bend. Bend the scored edges.

Step 3: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Align the front and side piece and staple together. Repeat for the side-back, back-side and side-front. Cut off the sharp bottom corners and draw a 1cm line along the bottom.

Using the sewing machine stitch the 4 sides of the handbag to be. Take the thread out of the sewing machine needle and use the sewing machine to puncture holes along the bottom where you drew the lines. Repeat the process for the bottom piece.

Place the bottom piece inside the walls of the handbag, align and staple around.

Step 4: Hem

Picture of Hem

Cut out strips about 2cm wide from the black fabric. On each strip, turn in about 0.5cm on both sides and iron over. Fold in half and iron over again.

Place the hem over the bags edge and sew on with a black thread using the presewn holes. Repeat for all of the bag edges (I found it easier to sew the inside side of the hem with long stitches first, followed by the outside side. This way I didn't have pay as much attention to the aligning of the hem). Leave the two top edges as they are for now.

Step 5: Zipper

Picture of Zipper

Sew the zipper between two pieces of black fabric and hem the edges. Draw another 1cm line along the top of the bag and pierce it with a needle.

Align the zipper with the top of the bag and secure it with binder clips. Stitch together and repeat for the other side. Hem the top of the bag.

Step 6: Handles

Picture of Handles

If you don't own/can't find a belt like mine, you could use two thin belts and maybe a clip from something else instead.

Unscrewed the clip from the belt and screw in two short pieces of the black fabric if applicable.

For the back side of the bag: align the belt end with a side of the bag, secure with a binder clip and stitch together on both sides of the belt.

For the front side of the bag: place the clip centrally to the front side of the bag, secure with binder clips and sew the ends together with the bags edges. Sew on the second belt.

Throughout this step I was using pliers, since my fingers felt quite tired from the previous sewing.

Step 7: Insert

Picture of Insert

Trace the insert template onto the pink and green fabric and cut out. Take the pink cutouts, pin the sides together and stitch. Leave about 2cm from the top un-stitched. Turn the pocket inside out, straighten and pin the edges. Do the same for the green fabric, but leave one of the smaller sides open.

Machine sew the edges for more of the "edgy" look. Turn the pink pocket inside out again and place the green one inside so that the nice sides of the fabrics are facing each other. Stitch along the top. Turn the pieces inside out once more through the opening in the green fabric and stitch the opening shut. Straighten and pin the edges where pink joins the green fabric and sew along.

Step 8: Snap On

Picture of Snap On

Sew two pairs of snap buttons on the inside of the handbag in a cross pattern (male-female|female-male). Measure the distance between the buttons and pin the snap buttons onto the insert accordingly with safety pins. The buttons should follow the cross pattern as well. Once pinned put the insert inside the bag and make sure that the buttons are in the correct place and position. Sew in place.

Step 9: Final Thoughts

Picture of Final Thoughts

Even though I'm very pleased with the outcome, there is a lot that could be improved. When I started this project (just like most of my other projects) I only had a very vague idea of what I would like to achieve with no planning ahead. If I was to make another one of these I would probably try to do more of the sewing with the machine, even though this was quite difficult due to the material not being as adaptable. Also I would most definitely start using the pliers very early on, since I could barely move my hand by the end of the day. I would also make the hand stitches more uniformed if I wasn't pressed for time.

I hope you've enjoyed my Instructable and if you decide to make one of these I'll be giving a FREE PRO Membership to the first 3 members (1 year, 6 months and 3 months) that make a bag using my I'ble and post a photo in the comment section bellow. So happy sewing ;)


CrafterGal (author)2017-12-12


techydiy (author)2017-12-02

I have no need or desire for a handbag, but I appreciate the design and the execution. It is very good, well done.

nerdyKat (author)techydiy2017-12-02

Thank you very much ;)

PhilipH22 (author)2017-10-09

Without the inserts and maybe the lines it might be usable for carry-on liquids of flights.

nerdyKat (author)PhilipH222017-10-09

I might make one like that in future, thank you ;)

zzzzzzzzzzzzz (author)2017-10-09

A great re/up-cycler myself, i find your handbag really beautiful and clever, with or without the inserts. I can tell it takes a lot of thinking first, and a lot of precise work in the making. And yes, as Penelopy wrote, it really looks professionally made. Of course, i had to vote for you in both contests !!!

nerdyKat (author)zzzzzzzzzzzzz2017-10-09

Thank you very much for your kind comment and votes ;)

Nettiemac (author)2017-10-09

You've done a brilliant job with this and have also given me ideas for gifts to make for my great nieces and nephews - and their mother's too.

Very well written and I wouldn't say you weren't a sewer as this looked pretty darn good to me.

nerdyKat (author)Nettiemac2017-10-09

Thank you kindly. I would love to see your creations ;)

Carmel MO (author)2017-10-08

Wow! Voted for you in both categories. Love the recycling/upcycling aspect of this. Also the reversible insert makes it a three for the price of one. Every girl loves a bargain and the bag is beautiful. Well done!

nerdyKat (author)Carmel MO2017-10-09

Thank you for your kind comment and votes ;)

Irishintx (author)2017-10-08

I dont carry a purse, but i was intrigued and happy i watched this unfold.
Very well done..ingenuity at its finest

nerdyKat (author)Irishintx2017-10-09

Thank you very much ;)

RebeccaS180 (author)2017-10-08

Bravo! This upcycled handbag is so amazing. As are you! Such an ingenious idea. Thank goodness you took snapshots along the way. That is something I would forget and be kicking myself for later.

nerdyKat (author)RebeccaS1802017-10-09

Thank you very much for your kind words ;)

NicolaM15 (author)2017-10-08

This is a great recycle project. I am sending it to the sewing teachers to see if they can do something like this with the students at school. Well Done.

nerdyKat (author)NicolaM152017-10-09

Aww thank you very much ;)

CynthiaL24 (author)2017-10-08

To make machine sewing easier, use parchment paper or waxed paper between the bottle plastic and the machine bed. It will rip out easily when finished.

nerdyKat (author)CynthiaL242017-10-09

That's an awesome idea, why didn't I think of it, thank you ;)

JudyP63 (author)2017-10-08

If this is what you produce when you're in a hurry, I can't imagine what you would make if you took more time (although being a seamstress, I can tell this was a lot of work!) I love absolutely everything about this: machine sewing the design in plastic, punching holes for hand sewing, sewing the belt with a pliers (been there, done that!) and making your own binding from a t-shirt. I could not be more impressed.

JudyP63 (author)JudyP632017-10-08

Forgot to add that without the lining, this would be great for some events in our area where only see-through bags are allowed to expedite security screenings.

nerdyKat (author)JudyP632017-10-09

I never thought of this, I might use it instead of the zip bag to go through the airport security next time :D

nerdyKat (author)JudyP632017-10-09

Thank you kindly for your lovely comment ;)

IamTheMomo (author)2017-10-08

You sell yourself WAY too short because this was brilliantly done, and very well written besides! My ancient fingers are not nimble enough for this project, and at my age I have no need of a blinged-out bag anyway, but you have inspired me to dream up some other projects using 2 liter bottles in a similar manner. Thank you for sharing!

IamTheMomo (author)IamTheMomo2017-10-08

P.S. I voted for you in 2 categories!

nerdyKat (author)IamTheMomo2017-10-09

Muchly appreciated ;)

nerdyKat (author)IamTheMomo2017-10-09

Thank you very much for your kind words, I would love to see what you come up with ;)

midnightraven3 (author)2017-10-08

I LOVE this, I love the design, and that it was made with reclaimed materials, very clever indeed, I HAD to vote for this!

nerdyKat (author)midnightraven32017-10-09

Thank you kindly ;)

timberanew (author)2017-10-08

I'm not in the market for a handbag anytime soon but this is genius and the finish is wonderful.

nerdyKat (author)timberanew2017-10-09

Thank you very much ;)

kojis92 (author)2017-10-04

Always great when you need to read the 'ible, since the material is re-worked to a point where the origin is not recognizable :)

nerdyKat (author)kojis922017-10-05

Thank you kindly for your comment ;)

sunshiine (author)2017-10-03

This would be a fun project! Thanks for sharing and best wishes for the contest~


nerdyKat (author)sunshiine2017-10-05

Thank you very much for your lovely comment ;)

Treasure Tabby (author)2017-10-03

Very nice. Unfortunately our water bottles are ribbed preventing it to be used in this way. They sort of remind you of bubble jackets. ;p

nerdyKat (author)Treasure Tabby2017-10-05

Thank you, it's very unfortunate about your water bottles, I would gladly send you some if it was feasible :)

ClenseYourPallet (author)2017-10-03

That is extremely clever. I had to vote for this one

Thank you very much ;)

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2017-10-03

This handbag I just awesome! It looks so professionally done and looks good with or without the insert. And it is awesome that it snaps in :)

Aww, thank you for your kind words ;)

mrwonton (author)2017-10-03

love your ''re-usyness''

(is that a word?)

nerdyKat (author)mrwonton2017-10-05

lol, it is now and it sounds good to me. Thank you ;)

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Katarina. I'm an IT technician at Rapid PC Rescue and I like to make stuff ;-)
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