Saturday, June 2, 2012

DIY Chicken Feed Sack Tote

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by Rebecca Nickols

Here's a great way to repurpose, reuse and recycle your empty chicken feed sacks. It's not a new idea: I've seen several online sites with instructions on how to make grocery totes out of all sorts of creative materials. I read them all ... then took what I liked out of each example and came up with my version of a reusable bag that's easy to construct, functional and even somewhat fashionable!

My top choice in chicken feed just happens to have the most attractive option for a bag; Purina Layena SunFresh Recipe Poultry Feed: the one with the picture of the Barred Plymouth Rock that shares a striking resemblance to my own Cleopatra!

This bag only took me a little over an hour to complete, and I'll try to go over each step in detail (photos included) ...







Supplies


Sewing machine
#14 needle (for heavy-weight fabrics)
Scissors
Pins
Thread
Binder clips
Rotary cutter - cutting mat - ruler
50 lb. plastic feed sack




Step 1: Cutting the Bag


Open the bottom of the bag, lay it flat and--using the rotary cutter, ruler and mat--cut off the bottom 8 1/2 inches of the bag (right below the sun on the front of the Purina bag).











Step 2: Sew the Bottom Seam


With right sides together, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance--sew the bottom seam. Sew another row of stitches about a 1/4-inch from the edge.









Step 3: Boxed Corners


This is probably the trickiest step to explain, but boxed bottom corners, as in a paper grocery sack, will make your bag much more functional than just simply a flat tote. Lay the bag flat (right sides together) and fold the center sides of the bag together. This makes two large triangles at the bottom of the bag with the bottom seam in the middle (see photo).




Next, measure and mark a 9-inch line across each triangle. To keep the line straight, use the 45-degree line on your ruler.













Sew across this line and reinforce this stitching by sewing again about 1/4 inch away from your first stitching line (toward the triangle's point). Turn the bag right side out. It should be able to stand on its own and have a square bottom.






Step 4: Top Edge


Using the binder clips, fold down 3 1/2 inches from the top edge and with your fingers crease this fold.











Next, remove the clips and fold the raw edge to the crease line.












Fold again and it should be the finished height of the bag. Secure this fold with binder clips.









Step 5: The Handles


Using the leftover material from the end of the bag, cut off 2 1/2 inches. Cut this piece in half. Now there are two strips, 3 inches each.








Cut these strips at each end, creating four strips total.













With right sides together, stitch a 1/2 inch seam on one side of each handle.







Open the strip and fold 1/2 inch down on each long end (secure and crease fold with binder clips).






Now fold these sides together and sew 1/4 inch from edge.














Sew another edge stitching 1/4 inch from the other end of the handle strip.








Next, position the handles on each side of the bag, but slip them into the inside fold at the top of the bag. (They will be on the inside of the bag--see photo.)













Sew the top edge down 1/4 inch from the folded edge.





Fold your handles back up so they stick out of the bag.











Secure them in place by stitching a square pattern with an X through the box (see photos).




That's it! One less feed sack to throw in the trash and several less plastic grocery bags you'll be tempted to use. If you're anything like me the hardest part about using reusable shopping bags is remembering to pack them in the car. This bag is big, bright and a visible reminder to grab this tote before going to the market. It might also help you remember to feed the chickens!







For more detailed photos and instructions, please refer to the best online instructions I found: Grocery tote bag made out of 40-lb birdseed sack and Make your own Feed Bag Tote.

To see what else is happening on our Southwest Missouri property, visit ...the garden-roof coop.

If you enjoy bird-watching (in addition to chicken-watching), I invite you to "like" my facebook page:






92 comments:

  1. I love the bag! You should sell them, I'd buy one! x

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  2. Great idea! I have one of those sacks in my garage right now; I think I'll make a tote bag!

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  3. Thanks for the tutorial. I've been wanting to make one of these! I have material for curtains for the nesting boxes and now instructions for the tote, guess I'd better get my sewing machine out and get started! Thanks, Robin

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  4. Oh Rebecca, I just learned to sew and this looks easy enough for even a beginner. I'm definitely going to try this. Now I won't have to throw away all those beautiful sacks.

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  5. I make these also but use webbing for the handles. For a beginner, it makes it an even easier project. http://fresh-eggs-daily.blogspot.com/2012/01/make-your-own-feed-bag-tote.html

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  6. Thanks Lisa! I'll add a link to your DIY to my post :)

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  7. I've been making these for about a year now, with the webbing handles. So easy and fun, and folks love them as gifts. I've even sold a few! Now people save their bags for me and I have at least 30. Anyone want some? I'll send you some if you pay shipping.

    At the MOFGA Country Fair in Maine last September, there was one crafter who had an entire line of products like this, from purses to billfolds!

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  8. Amy, for some reason I cannot reply to you but would love a couple of the feed bags to try the tote and be glad to pay shipping. If you see this, please email me.

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  9. Hello, Amy!

    Please shoot me a message at communitychickens [at] gmail.com. I'd like to chat with you about your bags.

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  10. Thanks Rebecca ! I am going to try making the handles from the excess bag using your instructions - I like the way you did it and your instructions are so good !

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  11. AMY - I too can not reply to you. I would love some bags! My email address is thegoatgranny@goatsrockranch.com If you would email so we could discuss further that would be wonderful!
    Michelle

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  12. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the tutorial! I just made one of these and it is so cool. I love it and will be making more! I think I know what all the gals (and the one guy) at the barn will be getting for Christmas this year...

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  13. What a great way to recycle! I am going to try this even with my cat and dog food bags!

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  14. I made one today out of my Flock Raiser bag. It turned out really great! I have a cat food bag that I'm going to do next. It'll be smaller but still really cute. Thanks for posting :)

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  15. I have made several.. love them..... I see christmas gifts.. what a great way to recycle:)

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  16. Cute bag (not a purina fan)!

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  17. What an awesome idea!!! JUST the other day I was shoving yet another empty feed bag into a cubbyhole in the barn, asking myself 'why am I hoarding dozens of empty bags?' yet, I just couldn't get myself to throw them away - Now I know why!! I will be giving this project a try this weekend and will post a pic of the results. Thanks CC!

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  18. Great idea! I'm a believer in the three R's (recycle, reuse, reduce), and I always need more totes (I use them as shopping bags, too). I have horses & their feed comes in the same kinds of bags--as does the cat food I buy! Oh, I'm going to have a LOVELY mix of these bags for grocery shopping soon!

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  19. Very, very creative and pretty! If I make one I'm going to buy the Purina Feed just for that beautiful Barred Rock hen picture.

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  20. I love making these when I have time and the family remembers to save the bags.
    I use them for all kinds of things...
    Dirty cloths when we go camping and do flea markets, to carry cold and frozen foods from the store, library book bag, I am going to make some for my grandsons toys for him to keep them all together. To put my different craft projects in to keep them all together. When I cut up material for my quilt project (S) I will keep them all together in their own bag. So many uses for these bags. I am going to make up a bunch to sell at our Horse rescue Booth and that money will go towards the rescue for feed, hay, meds ect. Now time to put out a post on our facebook page to start saving bags for me.
    http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/rockin.r.rescue

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  21. Thanks for your elegant design. I have made several from a pattern in Backyard Poultry, yours is an improvement. I checked out your farm photos...very professional and lovely. Thank you for sharing.

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  22. Really innovative idea how to uses waste sack and how you explain simple to create.

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  23. The square bottom leaves flaps...what to do? Asked a seamstress and she suggested plastic or cardboard "bottom" to add strength and to hold the flaps down. Now, I'm also repurposing cereal boxes! Great idea-

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  24. I'll use my dog food bag for this project. thanks you so much for the idea!

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  25. Great tutorial. I've been wondering how that's done.

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  26. I am caught in the middle. My daughter wants to make these bags but the sewing machine belongs to my 12 year old daughter. She want let her mother use it on the bags. My concern is the materials may harm the machine and there has to be dust etc. associated with the bag. Has anyone had machine damage? My grandaughter is very protective of her Bernina.

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    Replies
    1. I would think that a spin though a wash cycle should take care of any dust.

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    2. I understand completely... She could rinse the bags prior to sewing, vacuum them, or blow them out with a compressor or vacuum hose. After cutting the pieces, shake the "fabric" over a sheet to see if any debris is there. Use a 14 or 16 gage needle to sew and check the throat plate for dust while sewing. Clean with a soft brush as needed and vacuum the machine after sewing.

      I have an old "war horse" 1965 singer that I do projects like these with. We have a lot of second hand shops here and old machines cost about $30. Well worth having around for the rough and tough sewing projects... Have Fun!

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  27. I also make these bags and the square bottom is great but hard to do and make it "perfect". I sell them for $10 each and have friends saving bags for me. They are happy to do it so they don't have to figure out how to get rid of them. Jeannied30@gmail.com Jean

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  28. Amy, is there any chance you might have bags left to share? I would be happy to pay shipping etc. Thanks for your response!

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  29. Love the bag, Amy, but won't be getting chicks until Spring, so would love to have a bag and be glad to pay shipping. jde511@live.com.

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  30. Too cute! The hardest part about using reusable bags is remembering to take them into the store. But I think I would definitely remember this, LOVE IT! Thanks for such a detailed explanation. I will definitely do this.

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  31. LOVE!!! I'm going to make one.

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  32. Saw this on Tractor.com where a couple of ladies make and donate them for the animal shelters to sell. Great way to get donations for the cat shelter to help defer costs.

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  33. Hi Amy. My name is Kim. I am just getting around to reading the posts here. If you've still got some bags, I'd love for you to send me some. My email address is makdlife@yahoo.com. Thank you!

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  34. This looks amazing! so wonderful! Thank you for letting me know!You want to play wow game?You want to get WOW Gold?Choose it in http://www.mmolive.com/.

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  35. Ive been working on a version of this, but have trouble with the tension. What type of thread are you using and at what tension? Thanks!

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  36. I made the bag today. I have to work on getting the smell of dogfood out, but it looks great and VERY strong. Thanks. --Carol B.

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    Replies
    1. Put ground coffee in the bag and pinch it shut, leave it for about a week. The coffee should absorb the smell. Doesn't matter what kind (can be the cheapest kind), as long as it's ground up.

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  37. I've been told by a friend that you can throw the bags in the washing machine to clean them before sewing...would remove the dust and dog food smell.

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  38. Have been looking on ebay to find one like this, but can't find any. I live in NOrway and our feed bags are not like this....does any one know of anyone who would make me one and sell it to me,.I really like this blue one...

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  39. Rebecca, I have been making these for 3 years now and selling at our local farmers Market. my biggest problem was having enough bags for the demand. Then people started bringing me their bags. I sell more than 100 bags each year. $10ea. I also use the bird seed bags. They make beautiful bags as well. Just a note, some people wanted me to make bags from their dog food or horse feed bags, but these have oils in them that do not work out well. Now I also take the bags and use old windows and staple the bags behind the window to make wall hanging for the barn or sheds, or even in the house. Send me your email and I will send you pics.

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    Replies
    1. Hi. I love your bags. I dont sew and dont have a sewing machine. I am disabled with RSD which is a form of MS. Your bags sound so colorful and pretty. my email is woodtable634@yahoo.com. I would love to see what you have available. I'd love to get a few for my crocheting etc. I live in NY. thank you in advance.

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    2. Hi. I love your bags. I dont sew and dont have a sewing machine. I am disabled with RSD which is a form of MS. Your bags sound so colorful and pretty. my email is woodtable634@yahoo.com. I would love to see what you have available. I'd love to get a few for my crocheting etc. I live in NY. thank you in advance.

      Delete
  40. THANK YOU for the excellent instructions! I've been saving feed bags for years, knowing they had a higher purpose than serving as trash bags. I followed your instructions and banged out 11 for xmas gifts. Purina made PINK Layena bags for a limited time a couple of years ago in connection with breast cancer research donations, and these made the most choice shopping bags ever. Too swanky for Palm Beach, my sister-in-law is saving these for use in Manhattan.
    PS - fellow dudes: if you're looking to learn to sew, this is the project for you. I had very little experience with a sewing machine before this, and learned a lot. Heavy thread works good I used some kind of outdoor sail thread

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  41. Awesome I have been saving our feed bags from our horses and I raise border collies and have been saving purina dog/puppy chow bags just waiting for an idea of how to create a pattern, because I can not follow patterns I have to make up my own, but you have simplified it enough I think I can do this. Awesome, thank you!

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  42. I too make these tote bags. So much better than seeing them go to the trash.

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  43. Congratulations! Your REUSE idea is very environmentally friendly. Nothing wasted and so useful. Colours are fantastic.

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  44. Now just to find someone who has chickens and dont sew. LOL Any idea on shipping costs for 10 or 20 of the chicken bags to zip code 37814 please reply to glmbowers@clerk.com

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  45. Rebecca -
    Just got our spring chicks and emptied out 50 lbs of the Starter Feed so I could create the bag, thank you for the instructions, THEY ARE WONDERFUL!!! but may I offer some advice? I've been sewing for over 40 years and have also worked in Fabric and Sewing Machine Repair shops. I would recommend a Teflon coated size 14 needle (it slides through the "woven plastic" with ease) and an upholstery weight thread with a slightly longer stitch length. I also had to adjust the Needle Pressure upward to get the feed dogs to bite a little more thoroughly and I also used a Teflon foot so it glides now that I put more needle pressure on the plastic/fabric. I was just under an hour and my red Start & Grow bag looks fabulous! Also, to those who are worried about dust - after I cut the bottom from the bag, I washed the inside with warm water and Dawn and stood it on end to dry - worked great! Thanks again - great job!

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    1. I can NOT get my tension right on these bags! I got out my book and made adjustments as suggested, and oiled my machine. It is no better. I have some people that would like to buy them, but I'm not happy with the loopy stitch. I don't have a Teflon needle, but would that be the problem with the stitch? I am using a size 14 needle with upholstery thread. Any help would be appreciated!! Thanks

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    2. If your stitches are loopy, either the tension is too loose or your machine or bobbin isn't threaded correctly. It makes a difference even if you've missed one little step in threading your machine. Also when you put the bobbin inside the case the thread should pull 'backward' through the little slit in the bobbin case. I wouldn't want to use a light weight newer machine to make these, as most of the newer ones have plastic gears instead of metal like the old ones. I found a Sears Kenmore made around 1965 that will sew through several thick layers of material and even leather.

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  46. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

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  47. This is exactly what I needed. I've been saving these bags for, well years. I finally threw away a bunch, but have 40+ now. I tried to make one. Got through it but my machine just doesn't like it. I'm going to try the teflon needle. What types of machines are you using?

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  48. Love it! I used your directions and managed to make myself 3 of these! Thank you for the great idea!

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  49. Hi! great bags! If you have any more after all these posts, I would love to buy them. Please email me at cjudygoathotmaildotcom. Thank you so very much! -Jude

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  50. Really good.I will concern about it.




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  51. I have a friend who makes these bags she charges $5.00 a piece or if you give her 5 bags you get one free. She has made them from chicken,horse,cat,rabbit and sunflower bags. She washes the bags and hangs them on the clothes line to dry. The amount of feed my daughter and I go through she will be getting a lot of bags.

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  52. Brilliant! I had never tried a boxed corner, but you made it so EASY.

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  53. Its really a good article about the custom tote bags. Custom tote bags are becoming more popular than ever. They can be used in so many ways it is easy to.

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  54. Made my first bag. Love it but would not cut the extra off the handle. I like the my handle a little longer, more room to carry the bag off your arm. Cute bag really easy to make and great instructions. Thank you.

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  55. I go through lots of feed bags! I'd love to try this. Thanks for the detailed tutorial! What is the best way to clean out the feed bags?

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  56. This is probably the trickiest step to explain, but boxed bottom corners, as in a paper grocery sack, will make your bag much more functional than just simply a flat tote.Cheap League of Legends Boost
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  57. Thanks for such detailed instructions and pictures! I just made a tote out of a horse feed bag using your instructions. I love it!!!! And I've got lots more old feed bags that will now become something useful too.

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  58. I saw one of these in a purse shop near Berlin, Ohio. They wanted $50 for it!!!

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  59. I'm finding this a bit late, but, do you think these would make good growing sacks for potatoes (as far as material strength)? Thanks in advance!

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  65. I've been planning to make a bag for a long time, had a horse feed one that I got LAST year and a birdseed one that I got last month. FINALLY got around to making it. Your directions were the best AND I liked the way your handle was attached. I didn't want to buy webbing, I wanted it all made with the bag.

    I washed both my bags in the washing machine and the horse feed one came out fine. Next time, I'll just wash in the bathtub, washing machine made them too wrinkly! I did link your blog as where I got the directions.

    I used a 14 needle and upholstery thread and had to go way up on the tension, didn't look quite as good as I wanted but looks ok. I still need to figure out what to do to make it look better before I make more bags.

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  66. I made 23 of these over the holidays, everyone who got them as gifts loved them!

    I used the pictures more than the measurements for cutting, I found every single Layena bag was a little different on the length so I cut just below the lower sun and 3.5 inches above the Purina checkerboard on the top.

    I will be taking my sewing machine in for a good cleaning now that I'm done, but I don't think I have any more dust that the time I made a velvet shawl & hat.

    Lucky for me I have three sisters that all have chickens and ducks. So there are lots more of these in my future. I will schedule them for just before the next good cleaning. :-)

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    Replies
    1. A friend makes them and washes the bags before sewing them.

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  67. You can also make these totes from cat food bags. I have a collection of them I have been saving.

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  68. I would love to buy a bag - you really should think about selling them!

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  69. I have it easy . My friend makes the bags and sells them. I have the animals and her deal is give her 6 feed bags and you get back a tote bag of your choice. I have a chicken and a rabbit tote. I give her all my bags as it's better to recycle then throw them in the trash.

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