"doggie bags" tutorial

i posted the tote i made from the dog food bag on my LAing forums and people went ga-ga, so i decided that a tutorial was needed. i like the 'green-ness of this project. i like to call it "thinking outside the landfill"

first i'm going to say that these are not intended to be used for heavy items (like a watermelon) just lighter weight stuff (cereal boxes, produce, fabric :) etc), that's why i did the handles the way they are done and why they are 'skinny'. i have nice fabric ones for the heavy stuff.
read thru all the directions before starting.... click on a photo to see a bigger pic.

you're gonna need a dog food bag. (on a 'research' trip, i noticed that cat food, cat litter, bird seed, and dog food come in the appropriate type of bags). for this tutorial's pictures, i am using a Pedigree 40lb bag. i got two out of this size bag. the green one from the original post (purina dog chow) was a 20lb bag.

also, there is no right or wrong math in this...it's very, what's a good word, improvisational. this is about as simple of a tote bag pattern as they come.

okay before beginning: lengthen your stitch length on your sewing machine. i went to 8 per inch. i also found that the thinner piecing threads were too thin. i used a machine quilting weight cotton, more specifically: coats and clark's star thread. also put in a heavy duty/jeans needle. if you have a 'picky' stitching machine, this might not be something you ask it to do.

this is a picture of what the bag 'fabric' looks like. the left is the outside and the right is the inside. it is a woven plastic. you can faintly see the woven pattern from the front of the bag.

1. you'll need a woven plastic dog food bag. i'm using a 40lb pedigree dog food bag. a 40lb bag will make 2 bags and a 20lb bag will make one bag.

2. remove the strips for sealing the bag from both the top and bottom. you will have a 'tube'

3. the dog food bag will have one of two seams: a double glued, or a heated flange seam. this one has 2 heated flange seams. i'm pointing at it.

4. cut the bag along ONE seam. you'll now have a big piece of 'fabric' i recommend paper scissors for all cutting. this stuff is stiff and would probably ruin your good fabric scissors.

5. wash it in hot soapy water. i put it in the bathtub and washed it three times, twice with Dawn and once with 'greased lightning'. warning- the kibble smell doesn't really go 100% away. i have one more trick to try- i'll edit if it works.
edit- it worked! it's what i call 'hunter's soap' it elimates all smell for hunters. i get it at wal-mart in the fall (deer season) in the sporting goods section of the store! wash it as pictured (it only took once), just use the hunter's soap instead of dawn....

6. allow it to dry. in the middle of july in GA, that took about 5 seconds :)

7. after bag has dried: if using a 20lb bag, skip to step #8. if using a 40lb bag: cut along remaining seam (or cut the piece in half) this will give you two rectangles. (in the photos i'm only showing/photographing one bag, but i made two at the same time.)

8. square up edges the best you can. i used a rotary cutter with an old blade and my ruler. they don't have to be perfect, close enough will work for this purpose.

9. from one of the short ends of each rectangle, cut two strips 2" wide. i cut mine from the top so the dog would be on the front of the bag. set these aside for a later step. you can cut from the bottom, you can cut one from each end....just as long as you cut two.

10. using a sharpie, mark a line 1" down both short edges. this will be the top hem of the bag.

11. fold the edge of the bag to the line just drawn and top stitch it down.

12. both short edges have been hemmed.

13. this is the whole bag piece. notice the two short ends are hemmed.

14. fold bag in half, matching hemmed edges. using a ruler cut a square out of the corner. this will be how wide and deep your tote will be. i just eyeballed a proportional sized square and cut. i cut a 3 1/2" square out of the bottom left and right corners of the bag. the fold will be closest to you. when cutting, make sure you DO NOT go into the body of the bag....i cut right up to the corner, then finish cutting the corner with a pair of scissors.

15. this is a detail photo of the bottom corner and placement of the sq cut out. notice where the fold is.

16. this is what the bag will look like after the corner squares are cut out and the bag is opened flat. notice the crease from the fold line.

17. with wrong sides together, and using a 1/4" seam allowance stitch the short sides.

18. turn bag carefully wrong side out and using a 3/8" seam allowance sew short sides again. this will enclose the edges inside a seam preventing cuts. this is called a french seam. i did this because i was scared of 'paper cuts' from the stiffness of the plastic. your edges need to be close, not perfectly lined up. this fabric is so slippery, i don't think you could get it lined up perfectly...maybe i should of pinned it....oh well, to late now...

19. this is another picture of step #18.

20. the boxed corner: the seam you see is the seam we just sewed down the short sides. you line it up to the center of the bottom of the bag (the crease from the fold from step #16). this will take some fussing with to get in position due to the stiffness of the fabric.

21. fold the excess up and over the raw edge as pictured and pin.

22. top stitch across both corners and set bag aside.

23. handles: find those four 2" wide strips we cut back at step #9. mine found their way into the trash can...*shrug* i just eyeballed a 1/3 of the strip, folded it over, folded the other side of it over and top stitched it down. this is where one of those roller presses for paper piecing comes in handy. use it to 'press' the fold and make sewing it easier. they don't have to be perfect. close enough will work.

24. i did all four at the same time, just chain piecing them on after another. i also went back and added additional stitching on the other edge of the handles. this to me looked finished. you don't have to do this if you don't wanna. measure their length and trim all to the same length. i like 20-22" this is short enough for me to carry without it dragging on the ground, but long enough for me to put over my shoulder. adjust the length to work for you. (i have a tote that i like and i measured it's handles. )

25. using a marker, mark a line one inch up on all the handles.

26. measuring for handle placement. at this point, every one's tote will be a different size. this is my 'trick' to measure for placement of the handles. whatever size square i cut out of the corner (step #14) , that is how far in i come from that cut. then see what measurement hits the edge of the bag. in my case it was 7" (i rounded it up a bit) your measurement will probably be different.

27. using my 7" measurement i got from step #26, i use a ruler and make my mark on the top hemmed edge of the tote. do this on both sides twice.

28. this is a detail photo of how the handle is placed. the mark from step #27 is to the inside of the handle and the mark from step #25 is on the back (which is the inside of the tote)

29. this is a detail shot of the stitched X inside a rectangle used to reinforce the straps.

30. when you go to sew the handles down, the same length of handles goes on one side of the tote. make sure it is not twisted. see photos.

CONGRATS on your new 'doggie bag'! it's so "urban chic"! i hope all the instructions are clear. please do not hesitate to email me : half_square @ hotmail.com (remove the spaces) if you have any questions....


  1. Wow...that is really thorough!! I'm really going to have to give it a go!!!

  2. Very Cool! I have a bunch of cat food bags that I have been saving. I KNEW something could be done with them, just never had the time to work it out. Thanks so much.

    Now I know what you do when you aren't quilting or solving everyone's design woes on the forum....When do you sleep???

  3. This is just too cool. Great idea! I too like the "green" of it. Thanks for posting it for us to see.

  4. This is so clever, I'm going to have to give it a try next time I buy a bag. Thanks for sharing.

  5. If the cut out square was smaller would that make the bag taller?

  6. I can hardly wait to try this SO COOL!

  7. I have a dog and I think that this project would be a great way to use her old food bags.

  8. This website is sooooo cool please keep posting more interesting things about dog food bags. I wonder what else you could make hmmmm.....

  9. AnonymousJuly 31, 2012

    Thank you for your tutorial. Great for recycle/reuse. BUT I'm always discouraged when good ideas are not expressed in correct English! One: single quotes are correct ONLY within double quotes or in headlines. All other uses are confusing and incorrect. (Also annoying.) Two: it's = it is. Its is the possessive of it.

    1. and *thankyew* for not pointing out my lack of proper capitalization, run on sentences, ending sentences with prepositions, and my redneck usage of the colloquialisms "ain't" and "y'all"...i hope my non-correct grammar doesn't keep you up at night *snicker snort*

      btw, i use single quotes INSTEAD of double quotes to not be confusing when using the double quotes for inches (3 1/2" ) in MY tutorials.

      *bless its heart*

  10. I do the same thing with old banners for a local foundation. Super fun!

  11. Been doing this a couple of yrs with different way of doing it. Making them and giving them to Foster program who always need extra bags for kids and my local animal shelter. Good tutorial!

  12. You are so creative ! I love this craft; it reminds me a little of Andy Warhol Campbell's soup art! I hope you don't mind that I shared your tutorial on my Diamond Dogs Pet Sitting Facebook page in honor of national dog day! Thank you again for sharing your creativity with us! Jessey

  13. what type needle did you use?

  14. Superb bags for Pets, there is Duke and Dutches who is very well known for Dog carry bags
    C’est La Vie Bag Our Dog carry bags were designed to give your best friend a nice and comfortable place to be when you take your pet out with you. These bags are made with Top Quality Vegan Fabrics, quality Canine Couture Duke and Dutchess USA Signature Hardware A top fashionable accessory as well as a functional Product!.
    For More: https://www.dukeanddutchessusa.com/shop/bags/carry-bag-bags/dog-carry-bag/


thanks so much for taking the time to comment, they feed my blog. i do my best to reply to each and every one! you can bet your comments are ALWAYS read and appreciated.