Monday, September 14, 2020

Weekend Maker!

This was my quick weekend project -

No pattern, I just went for it.  I emptied the rest of Zoey’s dog food into her covered storage tub, and was about to toss out the bag, and then thought better of it.

I decided to turn it into a grocery tote – and before The Hubster had even left for his archery competition shoot I had this bag on the cutting table, large ruler and rotary cutter in hand.

I should have taken photos of the whole process.  Because it was easy.  At the same time – you know how it is when you feel so driven to just do something that taking photos is the LAST thing on your mind?  Yes.  That was me.

Things I learned about working with the tarp-like fabric:  This stuff is SLIPPERY!

The next time I want to try a walking foot and see if that helps me get a straighter seam.  Right now, it’s like I was skating on butter.

The first thing I did was determine how tall I wanted the bag.  And I really didn’t measure, it was – Here is good – and try to get as straight a cut across the bag as I could where I wanted that cut to be.

This is a 40 lb bag of dog food, so it is a LARGE bag.

After cutting the height, I cut 2 straps at 3’’ wide (Everything is still in a “loop” at this point, I didn’t open the bag out flat, just using it as is.) and then a facing at about 4’’ wide.

My plan was to leave the boxed corners as is at the bottom of the bag to form the base of the bag, and the only thing I did was fold where I wanted to crease the bottom, and then top-stitched those folds so that the bag would stand flat.  There are no gussets or y-seams or inset pieces.

Once my pieces were cut, I washed them in the sink with dawn dish soap to remove any residual dog food smell and residue. Dry dog food is greasy.

Please do this – Or you’ll have all the dogs in the neighborhood following you down the street.  LOL!

For the handles – I decided on shoulder length, and folded the strap pieces the long way in 1/3’s, bringing the raw edges toward the center and overlapping slightly.  I sewed these down near the center with a straight stitch.  I’m not worried about the tarp fraying.

After stitching down the center (The walking foot would have helped greatly here I think) I top-stitched close to each folded edge.

I then finger creased one long edge of the  facing as a hem (toward the back side) and top stitched that edge.

From here it was simply pinning the handle ends where I wanted them to go, raw edges of handles to raw edges of top of bag with handles hanging on the right side of bag.  

Then I slid the facing ring piece over the top of everything with right sides together and stitched all the way around the top edge of the bag catching all layers.

Because the facing was the same circumference as the bag, it fit perfectly.

Then it was just a matter of turning the facing to the inside, top stitching close to the top of the bag, and then further down along the edge of the facing hem through all layers.

I know this is clear as mud without photos – but believe me. This bag took me less than 30 minutes to whip up.

And I used pink thread as that was what was in the machine.  LOL!

My new favorite tote bag!

This is a test – this is only a test – and it worked.  Zoey thinks I should be very proud of myself for being so frugally creative!

Another thing I would have done…..Leave the straps a bit longer – push them down further into the facing seam, so I could stitch a big X to secure the handles better through all layers.  Next time.  There will be a next time.

I tackled the studio thread mess!

When you have been long arm quilting since 1995 you can amass a whole lot of cone thread.  In ALL the colors.

Over time these thread drawers became quite messy – and let’s face it.  It never even made it ON to my To-Do list as things I needed to take care of.  There are always better irons in the fire – right?

It's been more than a year since we moved the studio to the QPO - in that move, the thread mess became worse.

Well, Saturday was the day.  I organized by color families.  I culled cones that no longer had sufficient thread to complete a machine quilting job – those “not enough thread” cones will be wound as bobbins for things like scrappy string piecing when the color or weight of my thread matters little.  

The most important thing is to use up what I can.

Have you ever stopped to think at the fortune you have invested in your thread?  And it may be pretty to look at, but it is better invested in the quilt!

Still – I think it will be a long long long time before I ever need to buy thread again. Just saying!

This job also started yesterday.

It was time to unearth the fat quarter boxes from the garage/shop and start filling these shelves.  I vowed to go through the boxes and condense things along the way -

I’ve gotten this far.

I swear this is more somewhere!

And now that the Fat Quarter boxes are here -

It’s time to empty THIS cabinet!

I’ve been working from this small stash cabinet for several years now, adding to it when I need more, hoping to sew most of it up -

Now I will be folding this fabric and merging it with the fat quarter stash already in boxes.

When that cabinet is empty -

It will be filled with my books from the Wallburg house.

The folding could take a while -

Anything less than 1/2 a fat quarter will be cut down into strips and shuffled into the Scrap User’s System. Anything half a fat quarter to fat quarter size will be stored in these boxes.

We’ll tackle the yardage cabinets at some future date.  One daunting thing at a time!

The thing about organizing?  It's like making a bed.  You have to keep working with it - because what's done is undone every time you pull something out to cut, sew, press. It never stays done, but it can always be better.

How are things going on your own organizational journey wherever you are?

There is still time to get your entry in on our Quilter’s Project Planner Gift-Away!

There are just a few days left to participate.  Click to THAT POST and enter!  And while you are there, check out the other sites listed and visit them for more places to enter to win! 

I will be drawing for our winner here on the 18th.

And if you are as excited about the Quilter’s Project Planner as I am (Along with Love Your Creative Space which is encouraging me all along my organizing journey!) you can find both titles in the New and Books categories of the Quiltville Store.

Quilter’s Project Planner is expected to arrive this week, and I will start shipping them out as soon as they land on my door step.

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

What else can I say - it's 2020!

Watch out for those clowns!

Have a great Monday, everyone!


  1. Love the Zoey dog food bag. I’m going to try it with a sunflower seed bag. Great idea!

  2. I absolutely love your grocery tote bag! Not only is it ingenious - it is beautiful. I think you will have people stopping you wanting to know where you purchased it and I bet the Beneful company would love a photo of it. (Better trade mark it or they will!) I just started our kitty on new food last week. Since it is prescripton food from her vet specific for constipation and weight loss, I don't think I want to make a grocery tote out of it. LOL

  3. Bonnie, I have nade several dog food and chicken food etc. bags. You can just fold down the top and attach the handles with an "X" and forego the facing unless you want it. The walking foot really helps, so does a teflon foot. I have used various trims from my stash for handles, e.g. two layers of ribbon or twill tape sewn together. They are so much softer to carry the bag with. Just an idea. Great bag!

    1. I agree with the handles, much softer. Also the teflon foot.

    2. I agree. I have made hundreds of these bags. They sell well at craft fairs. I have given them as gifts, and have constant requests for them. Velcro makes a good closure as does a loop over the top if you want one. Literally every kind of animal feed comes in these bags. I scavenge them from dumpsters all over the country lol.

  4. My daughter makes these bags out of horse feed bags and they are very popular; be careful or you will be making them for everyone. They hold a ton of groceries and the checkers like them (or did when we were allowed to take our own bags) because they stand up so nicely to fill. Thanks for sharing you technique.

  5. Hello Bonnie,
    There is a series on Acorn TV right now that features Zoey's absolute twin! as a cattle sheep herding dog. You might enjoy seeing what she would look like in action with the Aussies...Her/His name is either Rory or Roy - can't quite catch it with that great Aussie accent.
    Thank you so much for quilting words, pictures, Zoey and kitties pictures, beautiful scenery, pictures....you get the picture...I look so forward to your column each day. Hope 2020 finishes well for you and family. Chaille Reed

  6. Ooh! Thanks for the “how to” for the bag. I have a couple large birdseed bags I saved, wanting to do this but hadn’t yet tackled exactly how.

  7. Bonnie reading this post I noticed that your Hubby is an archery shooter so is mine he was wondering what kind of bows he shoots. mine is a traditional bow shooter and does 3d tournaments.

  8. A Teflon foot for your machine might be helpful for slick materials. It works well when sewing vinyl.

  9. Cool bag! My mom has made something similar with empty birdseed and chicken feed bags, but I'm not sure she used a facing. Nice feature!

  10. I made a tote bag out of a cat food bag some years ago after seeing a tutorial online somewhere. They make very good tote bags.

  11. One tip for your next tote bag, use upholstery thread. I made a bunch for a fund raiser and my husband did a test of regular verses upholstery thread. Upholstery thread handled the wait of canned goods better.

  12. Isn't it fun to do projects like this. I have a friends who has made them for years out of horse feed bags when she worked at the university vet center. I recently made one our of a bird seed bag with a lovely cardinal on it. Now waiting for the pandemic to be over so I can use it.

  13. The seams are never straight, becauseof the woven texture. I wash them turned inside out with a load of towels. Use an old heavy needle in machine,an old blade. Tuck your handles under the folded hem and fold back on itself. stitch!

  14. I have been saving my big cat food bags just for that purpose. Just didn’t have a good plan of attack. You just gave me the proper ammo to attack it. So cool. Have fun fondling, I mean folding your fabric.! 🤗🤗

  15. Reminiscent of using feed sacks for clothes and quilting! The human spirit is forever creating.

  16. One of my son's friend's mother made him a Christmas stocking out of a dog food bag the first year he had a dog. It's rather large, about three feet tall, and she filled it full of dog/owner gifts. I like your idea of using the bag's bottom and top stitching to make a flat bottom. Sometimes I use a slight zig-zag for the center of the handle. Thanks for sharing your sewing room changes, inspiring!

  17. Maybe try using a Teflon foot on those bags. It works well on the coated fabrics.

  18. I have made bags using those from birdseed, horse,rabbit and goat food. They are great for beach bags. I just fold the top down and sew the straps. I leave the triangles from boxing the corners for strength. Great way to recycle- and some are really cute too!

  19. Great idea about the bag! I go through large cat food bags all the time. We try to use them for trash, at the least, because they are so durable. I also have a roll of oil cloth left over from covering some picnic tables. I now know what I will do with it. Thank you!

  20. Zoey is so proud of you! I'm surprised there wasn't a picture of Ivy in the bag, though. Very clever use of that otherwise wasted food bag! I'm going to try this myself.

  21. I have made several of these bags from birdseed bags. The Clover clips are very helpful to hold pieces together.

  22. Oh Bonnie, the look on Zoe’s face appears to say why is there an empty food source in front of me! LOL. Fantastic job on the bag , expect no less from the queen of scraps.

  23. Bag is cute. Question though? In Illinois, we have not been allowed to use our recyclable bags since the pandemic started. Can you use them in yours?

    1. Some places will now let you bring your own in now, but YOU have to bag the groceries yourself. Others places, still not allowed to use them.

  24. Ever noticed the wasted space under an ironing board? I took a shelving unit like yours pictured only the black version. I think It's a little smaller. I cut the bars to about hip bone height (a little shorter than comfortable ironing height) and put it together. Then I put one of those big rectangle ironing boards(the kind without the pointy end)on top. The shelves are adjustable and hold a ton. Maybe even a kitty!

  25. I burst out laughing at today's quote so much that my husband asked me to share. We both enjoyed it! There has to be a great story behind this.

  26. I have tons of chicken feed bags! Think I'll give it a try...and use my Costco tarp-like bags for sizing. Thanks for a great recycling idea!

  27. Very neat idea. Wax paper or tissue paper helps if you do not have foot. Make sure your package is clean.

  28. I have some chicken feed bags that were given to me a few years ago. I have been intending to make totes out of them, but just haven't gotten around to it. Maybe your post is a sign for me to get going on them!

  29. Pandemic helped me start my sewing room organization in full, then the smoke hit! AARRRGGHHH! Can't go into public often (and never without a mask) Now I can't go outside. Our smoke index is 247 today. With my COPD, there is no going out there. (Although I have to, twice a day, to feed and water my critters) I wear a mask in my yard now...supposedly they don't help with smoke. So...since I am basically inside 24/7, I have been moving sewing furniture around. Some went or is going to my office across the hall to hold things I don't need on a daily basis. More room in the actually sewing room, YAY! Now I can put my design wall up and actually make some quilts!

  30. Bonnie, how many fat quarters can you fit in those containers? I'm currently using a container called an ArtBin Super Satchel. It has dividers, which I like, but I think it's a little taller than it needs to be. I could start changing some things around... :)

  31. I've been making tote bags out of our chicken feed bags. If I give away a dozen or two of eggs, I put it in a chicken feed tote. You can reinforce the handles by sewing inch wide cotton webbing on top of the handle over the raw edges. Makes for a nice finish.


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