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Thursday, September 22, 2011

DIY Plastic Bag Organizers

As you saw in my last post about organizing the skeletons in our closets, I DIY'd plastic bag organizers to hold all of our plastic grocery bags.  Here's a refresher of what that grocery bag situation looked like before.  Yuck.

As I described in that post, I had one bag holding our reusable grocery bags (i.e., easy to pull out for a quick trash bag or lunch bag if my uber-cute lunch bag is dirty) and another holding the grocery bags that were ready to be recycled (like if food spilled inside them or we had accumulated too many in our reusable pile).

I had dreamt all along of creating a pillow-case organizer for this messy plastic bag situation, but just hadn't found the time/energy to do it.  At first, this is what I wanted to make:

I originally found the idea on Better Homes and Gardens, but now can't find the post about it.  Basically, it's a pillow case turned inside out over an embroidery hoop.  Great idea, but the drawback for me was that the embroidery hoops I needed weren't super cheap (I ideally wanted to pay about $1 for one... not so much), and I don't have any laying around the house to repurpose.  But then I saw this idea from Martha:

Martha used a dishtowel for her organizer, but I didn't want to give up any of our towels for this project.  So why not combine the two organizers?  This was one of those happy DIY accidents I always hear about that actually worked-- even though I had no idea what I was doing at the start!

I started with a fun pillow case from our linen closet.  

Pretty hard to miss, no?  I knew I wanted to take advantage of the pillow shape to make the plastic bag organizer, so first I stuck the pillow in the area of the pantry that the organizer would be going.  The length of the entire pillow turned out to fit the spot I had reserved in the pantry for the organizer, and one-fourth of the pillow fit horizontally in that spot.  Since I wanted two, here's my very rudimentary picture of how I divided the pillow into eighths.

The dashed lines represent the eighths that I ironed into the pillow (easier than pinning!).  Folding the pillow in half lengthwise gave me enough room to put two organizers (one on top of the other) in the pantry; folding it into fourths widthwise meant that the organizers were skinny enough to allow room for our reusable bags on their new hook.  The dark lines are where I planned to sew, taking advantage of the open end at the top and the already-closed end on each side.  So I ironed that sucker right out (forgive the paint on my finger; that's from a project I'll be sharing soon).

Then, turning the pillow inside-out, I sewed two straight lines for each organizer (where the thick lines are in the diagram above), leaving my needle in the fabric but pulling up the foot to turn the fabric 90°.  With all of the sewing for this part finished (seriously, that's all it took), I cut the fabric about 1/4" from the seam and turned it rightside out to admire my handiwork.  Halfway done!

The next step (that I admittedly didn't think about until I finished the pillow case part of the project) was to make fabric handles to hang the organizers from our pantry hooks.  When we bought our curtains a few years ago, I hemmed the bottom of each curtain and kept the extra fabric just in case.  Good thing I did, because those scraps have come in handy a few times now!  This time I used one scrap and cut off the thick outer edges on each side.  Warning:  my sewing scissors are SUPER sharp-- you might get a cut just looking at this picture.

It turned out that the scraps I had were the exact length I needed to create a handle, so I turned my organizers inside out one last time and sewed two straight lines to hold each side of the handle.  Here it is turned rightside out.
And the organizers in their beauty!  I stitched a red zig zag on one of the handles to denote the organizer that would hold our ready-to-recycle bags (as opposed to the use-them-again bags).  A subtle enough difference, and super easy to do at the last minute.  I was figuring out this as I went, obviously.

This entire project took me about an hour, which isn't bad considering I had basically no plan to start (with the exception of my rough pillow case idea) and I had to rethread my bobbin and machine a few times.  I actually felt really accomplished once it was done.

Have you done anything crafty this week?  Or just felt really crafty about something you did?

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