Reusable-Upcycled Lunch bag

Date February 9, 2009


1. Open up the bird seed bag and cut off the top and bottom.


2. Examine the graphics and images on the bag to determine which part speaks to you visually.


3. Cut off any images you’d like to add on as an appliqué/collage. It is amazing to watch an image transform when it goes from being a part of a bigger picture to an entity on its own.


4. Be sure to leave enough material for the bag itself, which measures anywhere from 26”x14” to 28”x14”

5. To determine which area will be used for design work – fold the rectangle in half with the unprinted side on the outside. As you are planning your design layout keep in mind that you will need to allow 1 1/2 inches up from the bottom on each side – this will serve as a 3 inch flat bottom.


6. Now play around with your collage images and get creative. Move them around on your blank canvas.


7. Once you get the image you like, pin the pieces in place.


8. Once the pieces are pinned in place, zig zag them onto the bag.


9. Fold it in half so that the printed side (not the appliquéd side) is on the outside.


10. Now sew shut each side, with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.


11. On the folded bottom of the bag, at each corner, measure up 2.5 inches on the seam, and 2.5 inches on the bottom fold. Pinch the corner into a triangle, using the 2.5 inch marks as your guide and sew across. With this step you are creating a small triangle. Do this on each side.







12. With pinking shears, cut along the top opening of the bag just cutting off a fraction of an inch.


13. Sew along the top of the bag all the way around. (Don’t sew it shut!!)


14. Now turn the bag right side out.



15. On each side, from each bottom corner to the top of the bag, pinch the material together and sew a straight line about an 1/8 inch in from the outside edge. There will be two of these on each side of the bag.



16. Stand your bag up. Fold in the sides of your bag giving your bag a boxy look.


17. Cut a small rectangle out of your scrap material approx. 1” x 2” This will serve as the reinforcement for sewing on your button.


18. Find a medium to large sized button

19. Fold the small scrap rectangle in half and put it inside the bag about 4” from the top – in the middle of the bag.


20. On the outside, place the button in the same location as the reinforcement piece and hold the two in place while you sew the button on using embroidery floss or some other similar type string.

21. Cut an 18” piece of hemp or other similar weight string (a shoelace, a braided bakery string, etc.)


22. On the opposite side of the button side, sew the hemp in place approximately 1/2 inch from the top of the bag using a zig-zag stitch.


Now it’s time to pack your lunch!


8 Responses to “Reusable-Upcycled Lunch bag”

  1. Rachel said:

    This is great! Thanks so much for the how-to, I’ll be linking to this.

  2. sigrid said:

    Thank you so much for caring. My three children have been raised in Los Angels CA in a city were their is more then enough to recycle every were i look some one just tosses out what they think is trash with out think twice. So i have always taught my little one’s how to recycle but before even thinking of tossing it in to the recycling bin i ask them let see what we could make out of it and 80% of the time we come up with something. Not always do we keep what we make out of it because we dont have to much room so we give it as a house warming gift of sell at the farmers market in our neighborhood. So more power to you guys

  3. Adam Butler said:

    I just poured the last bit of bird seed out of a bag just like this. Anyone want mine?
    Email me at and its yours.

  4. admin said:

    Hey Adam,
    We’ll take it!

  5. Alpha said:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I just finished making my first one, out of chicken feed bags (I chose a motif from two different bags, for the two sides of the lunch sack). I’ll try to send pictures when my camera is working, though mine is nowhere near as cute as yours.

  6. Must Make Monday – Upcycled « The Handmade Experiment said:

    [...] Reusable Upcycled Lunch Bag posted on Future Craft Collective. [...]

  7. Jenn Erickson/Rook No. 17 said:

    Wow ~ absolutely fantastic upcycle! Love it! Just cleaned out the bird feeder today, so now I really have no excuse not to go out and by more bird seed ~ and get my craft on! So happy to have found your blog. Kathie ~ I’ve been working on putting together our high school reunion blog, and in the process, came across your blog info through Kara. Looking forward to checking out your business website now too. Hope to see you at the reunion in October. Off to see if you have a “Follow” button and subscription option. Love your style! Best, Jenn

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    [...] Reusable-Upcycled Lunch bag – made with a recycled bird seed bag which sounds really odd I know, but this bag looks strong and pretty cool. [...]