Homemade Bulk Bags

Since you are kicking into waste reduction mode, I thought some of you would enjoy my homemade bulk bags. If you are interested let me know! 

I keep a lot of my dry goods in glass jars to keep them fresh and keep them safe from insects like moths. And, of course I like to buy in bulk whenever possible to reduce waste. The thing is, it is annoying to buy five cups of corn meal from the bulk bin when my jar will only hold four cups—I needed a graduated bag to help me buy the right amount for my jars.

I started with a piece of unbleached cotton pillow ticking 20” tall and 13” wide. The ticking is intended to hold feathers, so the fabric is woven tightly enough that I can buy flour and not have it leak all over the place. I also designed this bag to not have any hidden corners to trap dry goods.

Wash and dry your fabric to shrink it before sewing.

First I tore a one inch strip off the long side for my tie. I pressed the edges in to the centre, then folded and pressed the tie in half again to make a long narrow strip with no raw edges before I sewed it closed.

Tearing off the edge for the tie left me with a piece 20” by 12”. Normally you put your fabric right sides together to sew the seam, then turn your piece inside out for the finished item. I wanted to have the seams on the outside so nothing would get caught inside the bag, so I used a French, or lingerie, seam. So, put the wrong sides together and sew a seam ¼” from the edge. Then turn it inside out and sew a 3/8” seam. Now you have a finished seam on the outside of the bag.

Fold and press the top edge over twice and seam it—again so that it is on the outside of the bag. No flour or corn meal will get caught in the fabric when you dump it into your jar.

Now flatten the fabric tube, fold the bottom end over twice and seam on the outside. Now you have a bag, but we are going to make it even better.

If you put a square of cardboard inside your bag, flat on the bottom, you will see two triangular little ears on the bottom of the bag. These are just like the little triangular ears you see on a drink box or Tetra Pak. You want to sew two seams to close off those triangular little ears. This eliminates two annoying little corners inside your bag that lentils would get caught inside.

Design Alert!!

I said if you put a square of cardboard inside your bag, you will see two triangular ears. But, if you put a rectangular piece inside, the ears will be long enough to overlap. Then, if you sew the ears together you get a great little handle on the bottom of your bag to help you shake the flour out of your bag. My rectangle ended up being 3 ½” by 2 ¼”, but try it out for yourself.

Your bag should be done now. Measure something like rice or beans into the bag, one cup at a time. Make marks for each cup with a permanent marker. Sew the tie on and enjoy shopping your bulk section.

Cheers,

Ruben.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah says:

    Hi, I’m trying to make these for a friend.
    Did you say which way you sewed it? the 12″ sides together or the 20″ sides? It looks like you sewed the long sides together, but that is a pretty narrow bag, is it difficult to pour bulk flour etc in without making a mess?
    Also, correction: “I used a French, or lingerie, seam. So, put the wrong sides together and sew a seam ¼” from the edge. Then turn it inside out and sew a 3/8” seam. Now you have a finished seam on the outside of the bag.” Actually, if you are using a french seam and want the seam on the OUTside, you will have to put RIGHT sides together first, then turn right side out and sew another seam. Now the item is right side out and the seam is on the outside.

  2. Ruben says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I just happened to come back and look at this post just a week after your question. It is quite a while ago, but I think I sewed the 20″ edges together as the first seam. That would give a tube about 3″ in diameter, which fits over the spouts of many bulk bins, and–most importantly–fits inside the mouth of my jars. I also thought a tall and skinny bag would make for more accurate measuring than a short and wide bag.

    Check out the new packaging free store in Texas!!

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/06/hate-excess-packaging-bulk-only-grocery-store-to-open-austin-texas.php

  3. Sarah says:

    Thank you! That is helpful.

  4. hey Ruben – this is really exciting to find another package reductioning “freak” in the world – I had to start a whole new store to ease my itch! And of course if people don’t have time to make the awesome bags, they can just bring their whole containers right down to Ingredients! http://www.ingredientshealthfood.com

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