Introduction: Recycled Packaging Pouches

When you walk into any shop and look at the shelves, its striking how many bright colours, bold designs and cool images there are on normal everyday packaging. It seems a shame to just throw these nice things away, so why don't we make something useful out of them?

Here I will show you how to make a little pencil case type thing with used packaging. You can use anything - chocolate bar wrappers, instant noodle packs, crisp bags, sweet packets and even paper things like flour bags. The limit is your imagination!

It is as simple as applying some kind of vinyl or plastic covering to the packaging to give it shape and make it a bit more sturdy, then sewing it into a pouch. For the plastic covering I use vlieseline lamifix (other brands are available) but have also used that sticky book covering plastic (the kind they forced you to wrap your school exercise books in), which has the advantage that you do not need an iron.

This is very easy to do and should take you around about 20 minutes.

Enjoy (:


Soft stuff

  • Washed empty packages
  • Iron on fabric laminate/vinyl - I used vlieseline lamifix but anything similar will do
  • zips
  • thread

Hard stuff

  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Sewing clips

Step 1: Step 1: Find Some Packaging

Clearly you are going to need some raw material!

When I go to a different country, I often find that the packaging there seems more exotic, even interesting, and it also makes a nice souvenir.

Root around in a bin somewhere and find something you like, then cut it so that it is a flat rectangle, almost like a piece of fabric. You'll have to have some idea of how you want the finished pouch to look so as to best make the cuts.

Lastly give it a good old wash in warm (but not too hot as this can melt some types of plastic packaging!) soapy water.

Step 2: Step 2: Apply Laminate

Cut out some of your laminate/vinyl material so that it is a little bit bigger than your packaging piece.

You will need to set your iron to a low heat, as high heat can make some types of plastic packaging crinkle and shrink. If you are using paper packaging, you don't need to worry about this.

Usually you need to place the face up side of your packaging against the rough, matt side of your laminate and iron over the laminate to fuse the two together. Its best to check the instructions for whatever laminate you are using.

I find it best to take a bedsheet or other piece of material, lay it over the packaging, laminate and fabric then iron over the fabric to prevent too much heat going into the packaging.

When the laminate is strongly bonded to the whole piece of packaging, you're done.

As a final step, trim the excess laminate from the packaging, you may also want to trim down the size of the packaging to give you the exact size you want.

You can laminate either the just the outside of the packaging, or do both sides. If you do both sides then the finished pouch is stiffer and a bit more durable. For small pouches I prefer to laminate only the outside as this makes it easier to turn inside-out after sewing.

I have also had success using clear sticky back plastic, which involves no ironing but can be tricky to mate the packaging with the plastic without any bubbles or crinkles.

Step 3: Step 3 : Sew Together - Attach Zip

The sewing is the most difficult part, especially if you've never sewed before. If you have then you've probably sewn one of these things before but with fabric.

What we are going to do is sew the outside-side of the zip to the outside-side of the packaging, this is illustrated in the first photo. Be careful to ensure that the zip is upside down so that you can't see the zip-pull.

Then unclip one side, as in the second photo and sew one side of the zip to the package. I find it easier to sew with the zip undone, this is just my preference. When you sew, you want to put the foot on the edge of the zip coils- you can use either a normal foot or a zip foot. As you go along, you can take out the clips. It should look like the 5th photo, with the end of the zip roughly matching the end of the packaging.

Next, do the zip back up and clip the other side of the zip to the packaging, with the packaging turned inside out. Make sure the zip is nice and squarely aligned with the packaging, then undo the zip slightly and start sewing. When you get along a bit, keeping the needle down, lift the sewing machine foot so that you can close the zip back up again. This helps to keep everything aligned as its being sewn.

What you should have will look like the last picture. You can trim the packaging where the zip is attached for extra neatness.

You're nearly there, the hardest bit is done!

Step 4: Step 4 : Sew Up Sides

Now to sew up the pouch's sides. It's VERY important to undo the zip most of the way, otherwise you will never get into your pouch!

You'll want to fold the zip over itself as in the 3rd photo, clip and sew along the edge.

Do the same for the other side and trim off the edges and the end of the zip.

Step 5: Step 5: Turn Inside Out

Remember how you left the zip open before sewing up the sides?

Now turn the pouch inside out and your old piece of waste packaging is ready for a new life holding whatever you want!

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