Making a tote from a Feed Bag
I originally found this project on Mother Earth News, but was reminded of it when I was visiting the Caney Branch Farm in desperate search of Icelandic Sheep Fleece and honey, both of which I found. I quickly looked up measurements and techniques and found almost as many ways to do this as sites. So I culminated the best way for me to do it.
First I asked a friend to please save feed sacks for me. I quickly realized that the ones containing molasses don’t work well, you’ll never get that stuff out. Using heavy duty thread is a bit heavy for this, but you can knock yourself out with it, just don’t go too heavy. A Universal size 90/14 needle works well too. I originally tried a leather knife edge needle, but I think it was over-Kill and made the needle holes a bit big. I found a roller presser foot to work great for this, or a Teflon presser foot is good too. I start off by cutting off the bottom and getting a straight edge. Then I decide if the straps will look best cut from the top of the bag or the bottom of the bag. I cut a three inch section for the straps and set it aside. Its easy to use a rotary cutter, I have one I use on everything but fabric. or craft scissors.
Start by wiping the inside and outside of bag with a wet rag, and turn the bag inside out. Sew the bottom seam, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance and back stitching at the start and finish of the seam. The edges can be a bit sharp, so fold it and run another line of stitching about a quarter inch next to the previous stitching line, holding the seam allowance down to the bottom of the bag.
Open the bag, leaving it inside out, press the corners into triangles, where the triangle measures 6 inches across place a pencil mark and sew creating a boxed bottom. Now turn the bag right side out pressing out the corners and shaping it with your fingers.
To make the straps, take the 3 inch strip and pull it apart where it’s glued. This one strip will make two handles. Fold the raw edges on the long sides in 1/4 inch and press with fingers or run over the edge of a board or table to burnish and keep them folded. Then fold the strip in half, and sew 1/4 inch from the folded edge making the strap. Cut this strap in half. To create the folded top hem and attach the straps at the same time: begin by making certain the top is cut straight and the bag is turned right side out. Fold the top edge to the inside of the bag, make sure there is an even 3 inches turned into the bag and burnish or press the fold for a good crease. Then fold the raw edge in to the fold so that there is a double folded hem at the top with the raw edge encased, burnish or press fold. Place bag face down and place the handle you’ve chosen for the front into this fold, with the handle portion going into the bag. Play with placement and measure so that they are evenly placed and clamp with clips, and place the back handle similarly. Sew a seam holding the hem down, and sewing down the ends of the strap all the way around the hem with about a 1 inch seam allowance. Bring the strap to the outside of the bag and sew a square with an “X” in it. I have yet to find a great way to get that box with an “X” in it, I probably do it a different way each time..
The only thing left to do is press the seams out with your hands and shape it well into a bag that stands on its own and clip the threads. Its a great project that’s quick and not too hard, and keeps some of those feed bags out of the dump and put to good use.