I've been growing some veggies (thai hot peppers, arugula, dragon carrots) in buckets indoors with artificial lighting. I was inspired by a friend and also the space bucket community online to start putting the plants in bags so that they can be removed from the bucket for inspection and trimming. This bag uses two layers of fabric for extra durability, and is meant to allow water to drain through.
- 1 yard of your fabric of choice** -- $3
- 1.25 yards cord (optional) -- $1
- cord stop (optional) -- 50 cents
**Important Note about Fabric**
It's very important to decide if you want to use synthetic or natural fibre, or a blend. You can do a burn test with a lighter to see what kind of fabric you have. Cotton will burn, polyester will melt, and blends will do both. My local fabric outlet store (www.fabricoutletsf.com/) is happy to do the burn test for you before you buy the fabric.
Natural fibre will disintegrate in about a year, whereas synthetic (basically plastic) will last forever. I wanted a bag would last forever but had the stiffness of muslin. Synthetic is always stretchy, so I settled on a 100% polyester garbardine, which was nice and thick and only had a little stretch.
I have done all my sewing with a straight stitch, but if you have a woven that frays easily, I recommend a zig zag stitch instead.
- Something to mark your fabric with (e.g. tailor's chalk, pencil, chunk of soap, etc.)
- Sewing machine, bobbin, thread
- Seam ripper for undoing sewing mistakes
- Lighter (optional, for fray checking polyester fabric)
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Step 1: Cut Your Bag Bottoms
Trace the outine of the bottom of your bucket onto the fabric twice, and cut it out outside the line. Cut around the outside of the line. You should end up with two layers for the bottom. The bag is meant to fit the inside of the bucket, so tracing the outline of the bucket will give us an approximate seam allowance.
Step 2: Cut the Sides of the Bucket
I have sourced a lot of free buckets from local bakeries, and there are two standard sizes. One is 11.75 inches for the inside diameter, and one is 10.75 inches for the inside diameter. Either way, the circumference is just about 1 yard, which is perfect because you have one yard of fabric.
If you are selling these and need the seams to look perfect, you could do some measurement to make sure that the length you are sewing on the bottom round pieces is the same as the length you are sewing on the bottom edge of the side piece, taking into account the seam allowance.
If you're just using it for yourself then you can kind of just squish or stretch the fabric as you're sewing so that the layers line up, even if they're slightly different lengths. It can look a bit wrinkly at the seam sometimes but if you don't care you can go ahead and follow my instructions here.
The circumference of my side is one yard, and I decided that I wanted the height to be about 10.5 inches. This is a couple inches above my soil level so that I have room for handles built into the bag. I folded the fabric in half so that there's two layers for the side, and cut it so that the folded fabric measured 11 inches wide (10.5 inches + half inch seam allowance where I attach it to the bottom). So my final piece is 22 inches by one yard, except it's folded in half.
Step 3: Sew the Bottom
Pin and sew the two bottom layers. This is optional if you are a pro and want to sew the bottom layers together at the same time you sew the sides to the bottom.
I am using a straight stitch for all my sewing, but if you have a woven fabric that frays easily, for example burlap, you'll want to use a zigzag stitch so it doesn't come apart as easily.
Step 4: Sew the Side
Start with your 22 inch x 1 yard piece of side fabric folded in half so that it measures 11 inches by 1 yard. Sew the two 11 inch sides together. Be sure that all four layers of fabric are caught in the stitch. I had to redo this once because one of my layers of fabric slipped out.
Step 5: Pin and Sew the Bottom to the Side
To pin the bottom to the side evenly, imagine that the circular bottom is a clock. First pin the midnight and 6 o'clock points of the bottom to the tube. Then pin the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions. Finally you can pin in between these points for 8 pins in total. As you are sewing you can stretch or squish the fabrics together so that even if they different lengths they will line up.
Step 6: Sew the Handles
Place pins where you would like the handles to be, and sew around them in a handle shape.
Step 7: Sew the Channel for the Cord (optional)
Around the top edge, above your handles, sew a channel for the cord. I sewed my line about half an inch away from the top.
Step 8: Cut the Handle Holes
Step 9: Trim Extra Fabric Off the Bottom
Step 10: Fray Check Fabric
If your fabric is 100% polyester like mine, you can quickly run the cut edges over a lighter. If you are too slow it may go on fire! But that's OK, just blow it out. If it's not blowing out, just squish the fire onto the ground.
If you have a cotton or blend fabric, you can use fray check glue or pinking shears to prevent fraying.
Step 11: Install the Cord (optional)
Snip the cord channel where you want the cord to be. Then, wrap one end of the cord with tape to make it stiff. You can also instead attach a safety pin to the end. The idea is to have something stiff so that you can bunch the fabric onto the stiff part, and then pull the bunched fabric down the cord, to insert the cord into the channel.
I also had to cut snips around my side seam to get the cord through.
Once you have the cord through you can install the cord stop, trim and wet the end of the cord so that you can thread it through the holes on the cord stop.
Step 12: The Plant Bag Is Complete!
I flipped it inside out so that the raw seams were hidden on the inside with the soil.
Here it is with my young arugula. I haven't closed it with the cord stop because i have a little seed starter with a seed inside that I'm waiting to germinate in the same pot, and I don't want to cover it. But once the seed germinates I'll tighten the cord. Now I will be able to take my plants out of the pot easily.
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