Sewing tutorial

Plastic Bag Dispenser Tutorial

Plastic grocery bags (aka checkout bags, shopping bags) can be re-used and sometimes they accumulate at home faster than they wear out. Plastic bag dispensers make storing and using these bag easier. There are a variety of storage options for these bags, including diy ones. This is a plastic bag dispenser tutorial.


Single-use plastic grocery bags and shopping bags are being phased out in many places. I use re-useable shopping bags the majority of the time, but occasionally re-use a plastic grocery bag to protect my re-useable ones from meat drippings. They are also handy for wet umbrellas and dirty shoes. Many other people still have a stash. Living in a small apartment means that I don’t have much storage space. I needed a way to store plastic bags compactly and have them within easy reach when I needed them. I often stuff them inside another plastic bag.

Storing plastic bags inside a plastic bag

I stored them under my futon and sometimes I’d forget to take a plastic bag with me. Hanging them on a hook in the closet near my re-ueseable shopping bags took up too much space. I decided to sew a plastic bag dispenser to make using my plastic shopping bags easier and store them more compactly. My plastic bag dispenser is smaller than most fabric ones due the space constraints of my apartment.

This Sewn By Tanya project is for personal use.

This tutorial shows you how to make an 11.5” tall by 12” circumference (29.2 cm tall by 30.5 cm circumference) plastic bag dispenser. This is a beginner tutorial.

  • 1 fat quarter or 1/4 yard quilting weight cotton or light canvas (may need more if matching directional prints)
  • 1/2” wide ribbon
  • 1/4” wide elastic
  • fabric marking pens/chalks
  • scissors or rotary cutter
  • ruler
  • iron & ironing board
  • sewing machine
Seam allowance: 1/4” (0.6 cm)
Step 1 Gather Materials

For this project you will need a some quilting weight cotton, light canvas or medium-heavy weight home decor fabric, a short piece of elastic and a short piece of ribbon.

Cut the following:

  • one, 12.5” wide x 14.5” tall quilting weight cotton rectangle for the main piece
  • one, 5.5” long piece of 1/4” wide elastic
  • one, 8” long piece of 0.5” wide ribbon or grosgrain ribbon
Fabric, ribbon & elastic
Step 2 Top Edge

Place your main piece right-side down (wrong-side up) on your work surface. Fold the top 12.5” long edge 1/4”, pin and press. Fold the new top edge another 3/4”, pin and press. Stitch 1/2” away from the new top edge to create a sturdy top.

Sewing the top hem
Step 3 Bottom Edge

Place your main piece right-side down (wrong-side up) on your work surface. Fold the bottom 12.5” long edge 1/4”, pin and press. Sew with a scant 1/4” seam allowance.

Fold the new bottom edge another 3/4”, pin and press. Stitch 1/2” away from the new bottom edge to create a sturdy bottom channel.

Sewing the bottom channel
Step 4 Side Seam

Match the sides of your main piece with wrong sides together. Sew from the top edge to the top of the bottom channel with a 1/4” seam allowance.

Sewing most of the side seam

Attach a bodkin or a safety pin to one end of your elastic.

Bodkin with elastic

Feed your elastic partway through the bottom channel, pinning the end of the elastic to the end of the channel. Feed your elastic the rest of the way through the channel and pin it to the other end of the channel.

Sew the bottom of the side seam closed with a 1/4” seam allowance. Sew through both ends of the channel and both ends of the elastic.

Step 5 Hanging Loop

Fold your ribbon in half to create a loop. Pin the cut ends to the side seam ~3/4” down from the top edge. Sew your ribbon to the main piece using a rectangle along the ribbon edges and then sew an “X” through the rectangle.

Sew the ribbon loop to the seam
Close-up of x-box stitch

Your plastic bag dispenser is now ready to use!

Here are some photos of my finished plastic bag dispenser.

Front of finished plastic bag dispenser
Back of finished plastic bag dispenser
Filled plastic bag dispenser

This plastic bag dispenser holds all my plastic grocery bags and is more compact than putting them inside another plastic bag. Hanging it in my closet above my re-useable shopping bags makes accessing and dispensing my plastic bags easy. This plastic bag dispenser could also be used to store rolls of new garbage or recycling bags and slide lock bags.

Did you enjoy this plastic bag dispenser tutorial? Have you made a plastic bag dispenser? Subscribe so you don’t miss a post. Comment below and/or Pin Me for later.


Sewn By Tanya Sewing Tutorial: Plastic Bag Dispenser | filled plastic bag dispenser

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