Sew a Plastic Bag Wrangler for Easy Storage

In use shot

Sew a Plastic Bag Wrangler for Easy Storage

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In use shot

By Emily Jansson, Nancy’s Notions guest blogger

With Earth Month just around the corner, I’m inspired to work on my carbon footprint. I use my shopping tote habitually for groceries, recycle everything I can, and use my Green Kitchen Produce Bags, Beeswax Wraps, and Reusable Snack Bags. You can view the instructions for making these items here.

Still, every once in awhile, I just need a plastic bag. When I’m wiping up something especially yucky or cleaning the litter box, I reach for my secret stash of shame— under my sink, it’s a veritable mess of plastic bag tumbleweeds.

To keep errant bags in check, I made a bag wrangler. I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I really got it from my mom. She made one for herself a couple years ago, and I’ve always been a little jealous.

This project is so easy, you can whip it up in about a half hour. All you need is a fat quarter of pretty fabric and some 1/4″ elastic (Thanks, Mom!).


Start by cutting a 2″ wide strip of fabric parallel to the selvage, and a rectangle of fabric measuring 9-1/2″ x 13″ (if you keep a lot of bags around, you may want it to be longer than 13″).

Cut SpecSewing the ties:

Fold the long, skinny rectangle (2″ x length of the selvage) in half the long way and press (right sides out).

Fold Spec 1Now open and fold each raw edge inward toward the centerfold. Press.

Fold Spec 2Refold along the centerfold and press. Stitch along the open side, a scant 1/8″ from the edge, encasing the raw edges. You’ve just made double-fold tape—this will be the tie for your bag wrangler. You can fold each end over twice and secure with a quick stitch to finish.

Fold Spec 3Sewing the bag:

Fold the short edges of the remaining rectangle (measuring 9-1/2″) toward the wrong side of the fabric a scant 1/2″. Fold again at 3/4″ to encase the raw edges at each end for the elastic. Stitch a scant 1/8″ from the folded edge to create a channel.

Cut two pieces of elastic 4-1/2″ long. Use the Flex ‘n Glide Bodkin to thread elastic through each channel, securing the ends with a pin and then stitching 1/4″ from each edge. The channels will gather—this is what you want.


Match the long edges of the rectangle, right sides together, and stitch along the length with a 1/4″ seam allowance, back-tacking at both ends. Turn right-side-out through one of the elastic openings, and stitch the center of the double-fold tape you made earlier to the seamline at one end.

Tie it somewhere convenient and stuff all your bags in the top. When you need one, just grab hold of some plastic through the bottom hole and you’ve got yourself a bag!

Beauty ShotThanks to Emily Jansson and the Nancy’s Notions Team for sharing this tutorial!

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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  • Bev M
    March 29, 2016

    I had my middle school students sew similar bag holders as a beginning project. Nice idea for all.

  • Becky Payne
    March 29, 2016

    Such a coincidence! I was just thinking about making one of these for myself! Now I have a pattern.

  • Donna M
    March 29, 2016

    I made one of the bag keepers for my Mother and she loves it!
    I little hint about the bags: Hold the handle part of the bag with your right hand and the other end between your thumb and fingers. Now with your right hand roll the bag around your fingers on the left hand, rolling the bag into a neat little “ball”, then tuck it into the bag keeper! They come out so much easier and you can actually get more bags in your holder!!!

    • Emily Jansson
      March 29, 2016

      Wow! That’s a great tip, Donna–thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Thank you for all you do
    I have been following your sewing trail for 30 plus years .never gone wrong !!!

  • Starla
    March 29, 2016

    Good idea! I’m going to make one with rooster fabric, to go with the roosters and chickens in my kitchen.

  • Diane S.
    March 29, 2016

    Thank you Nancy.

  • Gail Beam
    March 29, 2016

    Great project and one that would be easy for a beginner sewer to do.

  • Joan J
    March 29, 2016

    I’m not quite as “green” as I should be, so I have different sizes of plastic bags I save in my “bag wrangler.” ( I love the name you gave it…it reminds me of my favorite childhood/lifelong hero.) I stuff the plastic standard-sized grocery bags into the bottom of the tube. And I stuff the larger department store-type bags into the top of the tube. Since my wrangler is always fairly full, I can access either size I want, from the corresponding end of the wrangler. AND, when I have more bags than my wrangler can easily hold, I recycle them the next time I go to the grocery store!

    • Emily Jansson
      March 29, 2016

      That’s a good idea–keeping them sorted by size in each end. And THANK YOU for recycling the extras–that’s a huge deal for the planet! 🙂
      I was getting frustrated by all of the unusable bags being shredded by my mischievous cat under the sink (do they ALL get together to teach each other how to open cupboards and wreak havoc?). I just recycle those because they’re unusable–but now, I don’t have to worry about it (unless the cat figures out the new system lol).

  • Eleanor Rushworh
    March 29, 2016

    Fantastic idea! I’m going to take the Wrangler to the grocery store and attach it to the handle of the grocery cart with Velcro. This way I won’t be leaving my bags in the car and forgetting to take them into the store.

  • Amruta
    March 30, 2016

    Nice tutorial. Sure will make it.
    Any recommendations for fabric that can be used to Sew reusable sandwiches bags? Food safe fabric. Love your snack bags that you shared with us last year.

    Thank you,

  • Emma Carpenter
    March 31, 2016

    Thank you Nancy. You share such wonderful projects with us.

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