My first Tutorial: Upcycled Birdseed /Pet food bag Tote

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Here in NJ we have had an exceptionally snowy winter and that makes it difficult for the birds to find food. So during the last few months, I have been especially vigilant filling our feeders. We have had lots and lots of visitors – morning doves, chickadees, red bellied woodpeckers, cardinals, nuthatches and several other birds I couldn’t identify.


Those little guys sure can eat and we are going through about 40 lbs of seed a week !! This has left me with lots of empty birdseed sacks (and my family members have been providing me with theirs as well). The plastic weave material they are constructed of are perfect for tote bags. The fabric is super strong and durable – a perfect combo for hauling heavy items without any worry that your bag is gonna bust and send your contents everywhere.

I’ve been making these for several years as gifts & they’ve been pretty popular. Here are the ones I made yesterday during what I hope is the LAST snow of the season.


Here’s my tutorial for sewing these eco friendly totes.

Supplies needed:

  • One plastic weave pet feed or bird seed bag (14 to 40 lb bags all work fine).
  • 2 – 24″ pieces of polypropylene webbing.
  • Size 14 or 16 sewing needle
  • Thread – you can use a top stitching thread if you want.  I chose to use a regular polyester thread and then overlock the seams for added strength.
  • Large paper clips or binder clips to hold the seams together while stitching

These instructions are for a 40lb birdseed bag with a finished size of 16″ tall x 15″ wide x 6″ deep.  You can use any size empty feed bag and modify the height and width based on what you plan to use the tote for.

Remove any stitching / handles from the bag.


Turn the bag inside out and clean thoroughly.  I like to use a garden hose sprayer – seems to remove all the little leftovers “bits” the best.  Or you can put it in the tub and let it soak for a bit.

Cut out the bag according the dimensions in this diagram.


birdseed 001


Here is what it will look like.


Using the leftover pieces from the bag, cut out the pocket pieces.  I cut mine 10″ wide x 6-1/2″ high.


Fold top down 1″ on the front piece of the pocket. The plastic weave holds a crease really well.  Secure with paper / binder clips and sew across bottom with a zigzag stitch.


Join the front of the pocket to the bag & zig zag or overlock to outside edges.  The back will extend 1″ & you will use that to secure the back under the top hem on the bag.


Fold over the top of the bag 1-1/4″.  Center the pocket piece, sliding the extended edge into the fold.  It will be stitched at the same time you stitch the top hem.

Stitch the bottom of the bag using a 3/8″ seam.


Now you are going to create the boxed bottom by matching the bottom seam with the side of the bag (when folded flat).


Sew a 3/8″ seam & overlock for added strength.  If you don’t have an overlock, you can use a zigzag stitch.

This will give a nice sturdy boxed bottom.


Cut 2 – 24″ pieces of webbing.  I buy mine from Home Sew.  They have a great color selection & it’s reasonably priced.  Here is a link to their site


You straps will be stitched to the outside of the totebag. I use the pocket as a guide. Line up the webbing along the outside of the pocket.



Stitch securely (I sew a box and then an X).


Repeat on the other side, lining up the second strap with the first.


AND you’re done !!!  Use it for shopping, trips to the beach, toting all those extra kid supplies you need when traveling. Also great for picnics – it’s heavy enough to carry a 12 pack of soda.


If you would like a ready made tote, visit my Etsy shop

THINK SPRING – I sure am !!!



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