Make a bird seed bag grocery tote!

I am looking everywhere for reusable materials these days, and I found my husband throwing away this giant bird seed bag, which was about to be used as a trash bag. Unfortunately (and fortunately), I made it into a tote bag so fast that I forgot to take a before picture. This took about an hour total, and that's with a break and a bobbin-winding. This is an easy project!

The finished bird seed grocery tote.

The material's a bit hard to work with - a kind of woven plastic, so I used my heavy duty needle in my sewing machine. I am certain it would bend a regular needle (beware, a bent or broken needle can kill your machine!).

Basically I cut the bottom off, then I cut about a 3-4" strip off the top and bottom (to keep the image somewhat centered) to use as the straps. I folded the strap material in on itself and stitched them first (as you can see, I did not hide my stitches!). Then I sewed the bottom straight. I also put a zig-zag stitch below the bottom seam to protect against fraying. 

I've been skulking around several tote bag tutorials, but this one made the most sense to me in how to construct the box-bottom effect, seen here, from the inside. Basically you stitch perpendicular to the bottom seam, across the corners. It works like a charm, but the only problem is deciding where to draw the line. Where you sew that perpendicular bit determines  how thick and deep your bag will be.

After I got the bottom together I hemmed around the top (you might want to do that bit first, because it will turn more freely in the machine without the bottom closed!), and then attached the handles. I plan to use this for groceries, so I want the handles to be sturdy, so I reinforced the stitching like this:


stitching at tote handle attachment

This was a quick and dirty, minimal measuring, sloppy first try. But really, it's not bad, and it will definitely do the job. It will easily carry a couple of large organic juice bottles and a couple of boxes of cereal (see the test run below). Of course I had to carry these around the house to test the bag! They did not fall out the bottom! Yay!



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Francina on May 17, 2014:

Love your recycled chicken feed totes.  I have been looking for a pattern to create just that.  Thanks.  It's nice to see so many people wanting to go green.


Port Angeles, WA

Karen on Apr 03, 2014:

My mom has a lot of these bags but no one to make them into totes. If there is anyone in the local Dayton, Ohio area who needs some extra bags let me know.

Anonymous on Nov 30, 2012:

Love your bags.  I have hated throwing away all my birdseed bags.  I just knew I could find a way to recycle them.

Thanks, Pat

Linda on Aug 16, 2012:

That is a pretty cool tote bag! May I suggest a piece of plastic canvas cut to fit the bottom of your bag? I do this with my totes now and they lend strength and stability to them. I find it easier to keep the bag upright in the trunk of my car with this small, inexpensive and practical detail! You can remove the plastic canvas for washing purposes.

Pamela on Jul 30, 2012:

Such great idea . I was wondering what I could do with those lovely shiny cat food bags . Such a shame to throw them away . Now Iknow and cantwaitto get started . Thanks for the idea .

Anonymous on Jul 10, 2012:

Does anyone know if there are any copyright issues if you use the entire bag?

chris on Apr 27, 2012:


I believe this will show how you made the box corners at the bottom of the bag

Candy on Aug 24, 2011:

My Sister in -law gave me one of these bags, and I get nothing but complements on it. I'm putting the bags in the washer on delicate cycle. I know in my barn I have creepy crawls that I don't want to carry to the grocery store, or any of there foot prints.

RebeccainMI on Jun 23, 2011:

I clicked the link to see how to sew the bottom, but it just takes me to the current blog post on the Sew Stylish site. Could you post a new link or elaborate on how to sew the bottom of the bag?

stephee on Mar 24, 2011:

I don't know. Just thread. Whatever I had. Nothing special!

Katy on Mar 24, 2011:

I'm curious what kind of thread did you use?

Rita on Mar 02, 2011:

Thank you for the directions. The longest part of this project for me was removing the seam I accidentally put across the top instead of the bottom!!

Liz on Dec 22, 2010:

I've been making these totes from Dog Chow and Cat Chow bags for awhile now. I get a comment on them almost every time I use them. The bags are so sturdy, I hated to throw them away and thought this was a great way to recycle them. With 4 cats and 3 large dogs in our family, we collect a lot of bags! I hope to eventually sell some as a fundraiser for the local Humane Society.

GG in MN on Dec 15, 2010:

I love mine made by cutting down a 50# birdseed bag! Folded-in triangles on both sides of bottom, stitched the triangles down using heavy duty thread, and covered bottom with 3" x 11" cardboard piece. Your picture and description inspired me. Thanks!

Tonnia on Sep 17, 2010:

I have some chick starter feed bags out of the same material. have been wanting to make a totoe.  thanks for the tutorial

Tonnia on Sep 17, 2010:

My 12yo dd has started raising chickens.  The bags of feed are made out of the same material.  They have the CUTEST chick on the front.  I will be making a tote out of them!  Thanks for the tutorial.

Joy Elkin on Jun 04, 2010:

I love this idea thank you so much, I have chickens and their feed comes in the same bags as bird seed along with the dog food I purchase. Awesome idea and easy too.  Joy

Chris on Apr 15, 2010:

This is such a neat project! I actually buy cat food in a bag similar to this and I'm itching to try it.

Steph on Mar 21, 2010:

Sorry, Emily - there is no pattern! Just read through how I did it, and you might figure it out. The only somewhat tricky thing is the bottom (I see that link goes nowhere now)... you sew it straight across, then flatten the corners the other way & sew across them. That part is hard to grasp withotu seeing it. Anyway, play with it, and find a way. If you've got lots of feed bags, you have plenty of practice material! You might well come up with something better!

Emily on Mar 21, 2010:

Hi, Can you link me to pattern? Really like this idea and have LOTS of feed bags I want to convert. 



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