Introduction: Shopping Bags From Brewers Malt Sacks

With all the craft breweries around these days, its easy to find a malt sack. They go through tons of them. I got mine from Brothers Brewing Company. They gave me 12 of them so I was busy stitching for quite a while. I did these in 4 sessions .The first two were singles. I needed to get a feel for how do it without screwing up a bunch of bags. The third batch was 5 bags. The final batch was 4. Diversion of waste is important! We should all try to do our part.


An empty brewers malt sack

A sewing machine



Sharp scissors

A ruler or tape measure

A marker

Two butane lighters

I found compressed air came in handy to clean the dust and malt bits from the bag.

After making two bags without a template of the bottom, I decided to make one out of thin 1/8" fiber board

Step 1: The Bag of Bags

This was how I received my collection of raw materials.

Step 2: Clean Off the Dust

Malt is dusty! Do not bring the bags in the house before cleaning them, inside and out. The seams on the inside can hide bits of malted grains.

Step 3: A Final Cleaning

Once the main cleaning is complete, I'm allowed to bring them in the house. A quick wipe with a wet towel and they are ready for their transformation.

Step 4: Choose Where to Start

With the bag inside out, I tucked the bottom of the bag up inside itself. I want the word Germany to be visible when the bag is complete, so that's where I'll pin my first seam.

Step 5: Set the Stitch

My sewing machine is pretty basic, it does the job though. These are my settings.

Step 6: Sewing the First Seam

I removed the bed from the machine so the bag can move freely beneath the needle area.

Sew all the way around staying as close to the edge as possible.

Remove the pins before they get pulled under the presser foot.

Step 7: The Top Edge

To make the top edge, measure from the bottom seam line and fold over the excess. I've decided on a 16" tall bag. I just fold nice and even, then add a few pins to keep it that way

Step 8: Measure, Mark, Fold, and Pin

A video, If you like that sort of thing.

Step 9: Sew Top Edge

I first sew as close to the top edge as possible.

I remove pins before they are drawn under the presser foot.

Once the first seam is sewn, I slide the bag over to the right.

Without pinning, I sew another seam.

Keep the the previous seam resting on the edge of the machine bed as seen in the second photo.

I now pull back the remaining edge and sew it into place.

This makes a nice rigid opening to the bag. It should be easy to load without flopping around.

Step 10: Open, Measure, Cut, and Burn

The Bags now get opened right side out. The Bottom will be 5" wide. I measure 6" down from the seam I created below the word Germany. I then cut the bottom of the bag off. Once the cut has been made I use a lighter to melt the edges of the cuts. Two lighters is better, when one gets to hot I would swap it for a cooler one. My first two bags didn't include this step and I had strips of white nylon weave all over the place. I'll do this to the cutoff bottoms as well,I'll be using them next.

Step 11: Have Lunch

A lunch break is always welcome.

Step 12: Remove Excess Plastic

Now that the bag has been cut open, I can pull down on the plastic liner. I'm surprised how much extra plastic is in there. With the plastic trimmed, I fold over the open end of the cut off bag bottom and pin it. This will end up being a set of handles. There is already an existing seam, I try to match it's width when I pin a new one

Step 13: Stitch, Fold and Pin, Cut and Repin, Then Sew

Once the first seam is sewn, I fold each of the folded seam once and pin them. Then cut away the folded strips leaving about an inch of extra. I will unpin the strip and tuck the extra into the opening and pin them closed again. Then I sew them up.

Step 14: Sewing the Strap

In my latter sessions, I sewed the straps without using pins.

Step 15: Finish Sewing and Set Asside

I added another seam just to give more strength to the straps.

Step 16: Form the Bottom

I cut a template to pop into the bag it helps hold things in place while I fold and pin. Its a bit tough to fit it into some bags but I was able to do it. Once I folded it up like a present, I pinned it before removing the template. I'm quite happy with the result.The brew masters at Brothers Brewing Company liked that the malt variety was left visible.

Step 17: Sew Carefully

The inside sewing is tricky I had to sew carefully. The flap that was created with the first seam sewn, now borders the inner edge. I want that flap sewn down evenly, creating a nice crisp edge to the bottom of the bag. Once that is complete, I completed securing the bottom flaps from outside the bag. That part was much easier. Trying to video sewing the bottom of the bags was a complete waste of time. To much hand and arm, not enough stitching. If my eyes could have been the cameras view, it would have been an epic. Smart glasses would be cool.

Step 18: Pin Handles Then Sew

It only takes one pin to secure each end of the handles in place. I hung them on a nearby chair and got to work. The reverse function came in handy. I sewed the crap out of this connection The border and an X, over and over. These handles are going nowhere.

Step 19: Tada!

There you have it. One dozen shopping bags made from used malt sacks. A brewery waste that need not be wasted. Now for an epic shopping spree!

Trash to Treasure Contest

Runner Up in the
Trash to Treasure Contest