Plastic Bag Dispenser Tutorial – Free Homemade Gift Ideas

I’ve been planning to make a plastic bag dispenser for ages, to store all the plastic grocery bags I accumulate. When one of my girlfriends bought a really pretty one at a craft fair I got bag envy and I knew I had to make one just like it! (Yes, I know I’m sad)

I know I’m supposed to be some kind of super organised wonder woman who always has a reusable bag or a tote bag with her for impromptu shopping moments. I admit it now that sometimes (er – quite often!) I fall off the green wagon and need to buy a single use carrier bag! Storing them all in a grocery bag holder is my way of being green and making sure the bags get used again (and again).

After a good hunt through my craft stash for pretty fat quarters I’d bought on a whim but not used yet, I found fabrics that worked well together and here’s what I made, I think it’s pretty funky and cheerful…

plastic bag dispenser

How to Make Your Plastic Bag Dispenser

Materials

  • 2 cotton fabrics, one measuring 22″ x 21″, the other measuring 14″ x 21″
  •  1/4″ elastic
  • thread
  • pins
  • 2 safety pins
  • scissors or rotary cutter, cutting mat and metal ruler

If you don’t already have a rotary cutter, I recommend getting one, but don’t waste your money on anything other than an Olfa one. The cheapie ones simply don’t cut fabric as cleanly as the Olfa ones! You can get a good quality one here…

Instructions

Cut the larger piece of fabric into 4 pieces (3 pieces 6″ x 21″ and 1 piece 4″ x 10″)

  • Cut the smaller piece of fabric into 4 strips, each one measuring 3 1/2″ x 21″.
  • If your fabric has a ‘right way up’ as mine does here (the owls all need to be the same way up) take care when joining your fabric strips, to ensure they all face the right way up.
  • Starting with one of the thinner strips, pin then stitch strips together along the long edges with right sides together (as shown below).
  • Neaten and press the seams.

plastic bag dispenser

Oops – I really should have ironed the fabric before taking this photo!

  • Iron one of the end strips in half along the long edge, then turn under and iron a 3/8″ seam allowance.
  • Fold the strip, forming a channel all the way along the seam joining it to the next strip.
  • Pin the raw edge inside the channel then top stitch the channel, leaving a small gap for the elastic to be inserted into.
  • Repeat this process for the other end of the bag, without leaving any gap in the top-stitching.
  • Pin then stitch the long edges of the bag together (right sides together) then press and neaten the seams.

plastic bag dispenser

  •  To make the hanging strap, fold the strip in half along the long length and make a crease in the fabric.
  • Open out the fabric and fold the fabric up to the crease (wrong sides together).
  • Press the strap along the fold.
  • Iron a 3/8″ seam allowance along the other long edge of the fabric strip, then fold this long edge over the first fold that you created. It’s a bit fiddly at first, but easy once you get the hang of it (as above)
plastic bag dispenser
  • Stitch in place as shown above.
  • I added a second row of stitching because I’m a bit of a freak about things being symmetrical!

plastic bag dispenser

  • Attach the strip to the top of the bag, turning the raw ends under before securing in place.
  • Using a safety-pin, attach one end of the elastic close to the open section in the elastic channel.
  • Attach the other end to another safety-pin or large blunt needle and thread all the way through the channel.
  • Stitch the 2 ends of the elastic together, then stitch the channel closed.

plastic bag dispenser

All you need to do now is pop your grocery bags into the opening at the top of the holder and pull one out from the elasticated opening at the bottom when you need to use one.

These grocery bag holders sell really well at fundraising events. They are brilliant for using up scraps of pretty fabric from your stash!

There’s a fighting chance I’ll always have a bag with me now for those impromptu shopping missions!

More Plastic Bag Dispenser Designs

plastic bag dispenser

If you’re short on time, this fabulously easy plastic bag dispenser pattern from Jess takes just 20 minutes to make. I’ve tested it and you only need one fat quarter of fabric. You’ll find the full tutorial here.

I’ve got a bit carried away and made 3 of these bags, as they’re perfect for storing reusuable shopping bags too.

What will you use yours for?

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