BYOB Upcycled Gift Bag: Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

We always seem to have more reusable shopping bags than we know what to do with so today I’m showing you how to upcycle them into a Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB) bag. With the holidays right around the corner, it’s handy to have a bag to carry some spirits to get into the spirit. Of course, it goes without saying that it could also carry a non-alcoholic drink instead; don’t forget about those designated drivers!

For the holiday season, the version shown below is ideal to use for gift giving 🙂 In keeping with the ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry’ theme, the graphic element forms a pocket that holds a dining gift card to a local restaurant:

Whether you make this for yourself to transport wine to holiday gatherings, as a host(ess) gift or as a holiday gift to celebrate the season or New Years, you can customize it with any graphic or holiday message you desire. All you need is a home printer!

For our own BYOB bag, I couldn’t resist using our Birdz of a Feather logo (as shown below and in the video):

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Watch the Video!

The video gives you a  snapshot of all the steps to complete your own BYOB bag. Keep in mind as you watch the video that I’ve used our own logo to demonstrate how it’s done (and subscribe to our YouTube channel while you’re at it)!

I used two bags for this project: one reusable grocery bag and a reusable plastic bag from which I salvaged the cord handle.

You Will Need

  • Reusable shopping bag
  • Cord from a second shopping bag
  • Iron
  • Pressing cloth
  • Chalk pencil
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Cotton scrap (to print graphic)
  • Freezer paper
  • Printer
  • Sewing machine
  • Cord lock
  • Grommet (wide enough for cord)
  • Bodkin
  • Ruler
  • Bottle of wine and gift card

Step 1: Take Apart Your Upcycled Bags and Harvest the Pieces

To start, use a stitch ripper to undo the trim and side seams from the reusable grocery bag.

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Untie the knot in the cord handle on the plastic bag. We’ll only need one of them, so set one aside for another project – or use both if you’re making two bags!

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Step 2: Smooth Out the Fabric

Take the fabric pieces to an ironing board and set the iron on the lowest setting (any higher and you run the risk of melting whatever the bag is made of). Place an ironing press cloth over the fabric and run the iron over it to smooth out any creases in the fabric.

BYOB Bag 18_BOF.jpg

Step 3: Incorporate a Decorative Element!

Although I chose to use my Birdz of a Feather logo to adorn our bag, you could use the ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry’ image shown below – or any other graphic/text combo to embellish yours and make it unique!

Believe it or not, it’s easy to print out on your own home computer! DISCLAIMER: My home printer is an Epson WF-3540 and this method works perfectly for me. Proceed with your own printer at your own risk.

Using Your Home Printer to Print on Fabric

The secret to printing on your home computer is to use 100% cotton fabric with freezer paper as a backing to stiffen the fabric and allow it to feed through the printer. I did try printing on synthetic blends and found that the ink did not bond to the fabric as it does with cotton.

I typically print a bunch of graphics at the same time so cut the freezer paper 8 1/2″ x 11″ to fit a standard printer. You could of course set it up to print at whatever size your printer can accommodate.

After cutting the freezer paper, cut a piece of cotton fabric to the same size (in my case, 81/2″ x 11″).

Heat up an iron to a medium high setting. Place the freezer paper shiny side down onto the wrong side of the fabric.

Iron the freezer paper onto the fabric; move the iron and don’t keep it on any spot for too long.

You can also iron on the backside, then let it cool.

If the fabric shows beyond the edges, trim it off with scissors. I don’t like to take any chances of the fabric getting caught in the printer!

Feed the now bonded sheet of fabric and freezer paper into the rear paper feed slot of your printer and you’re ready to print! The rear paper slot can take heavier card stock so be sure to print from there and not the paper tray or you may run into jamming issues. One more tip: be sure you know which way you need to load into the rear slot of your printer (fabric side up or down) so that it prints on the fabric side and not on the freezer paper. I do a test print with a piece of paper marked with an ‘X’ first.

Step 4: Binding the Raw Edge

As seen in the video, I cut one of my logos from the printed fabric, leaving 1/4″ all around. Then I used the seam binding trim I saved earlier from the shopping bag and pinned it around the edge. I took it to the sewing machine and stitched it on, cutting off any excess.

Here’s how the holiday version looks:

Step 5: Cut the Main Body

Cut the BYOB bag from the main body piece taken apart earlier. I used the full width of the bag – handle and all. The handle is going to be an integral part of the bag, so be sure to keep it on and incorporate it as a shoulder strap.

BYOB Bag 43_BOF

BYOB Bag 45_BOF

Step 6: Making the Bottom of the Bag

For the bottom of the bag, use the side pieces from the grocery bag. The cardboard from my Duck tape was perfectly sized to use as a pattern for the bottom of my bag. Double up the fabric, one on top of the other, and then trace a circle using a chalk pencil.

BYOB Bag 28_BOF

Pin the pieces together and cut out the circle.

Stitch directly onto the chalk line, then trim the seam allowance leaving 1/4″.

BYOB Bag 30_BOF

Step 7: Add Your Decorative Element

I placed my design onto the front of the bag, pinned and then stitched around it.

Be sure to leave an opening in the top if you want to create a pocket to hold a gift card! I didn’t do that for the version I made with my own logo, but I wish I had!

Fold the sides of the bag together, right side out. Stitch a 1/4″ seam down the side.

Using another piece of the trim that was saved earlier, fold it around the raw edges of the sides of the bag and stitch it down using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Cut away the excess length of trim.

BYOB Bag 50_BOF.jpg

Step 8: Stitch Bottom of Bag

Pin the circle onto the bottom of the bag, wrong sides together, and stitch around the perimeter using 1/4″ seam allowance.

BYOB Bag 52_BOF

Use another piece of trim and stitch it on the same way as you did the side seam. Cut away the excess length.

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Step 9: Make a Casing/Hole for Grommet

Now you’ll need a casing for the top of the bag to add a drawstring closure. I used the scrap of fabric I previously cut the bottom from for the casing.

Cut a strip that’s 2″ wide; don’t worry about the length as any excess will be cut away at the sewing machine.

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At one end of the strip you just cut, there may already be a fold; if not, create one to accommodate the grommet. This double fabric is ideal for stabilizing the grommet.

Step 10: Add a Grommet

Use pointy scissors to make a starter hole. Don’t be tempted to actually cut a hole or it will weaken the grommet; the goal is to stretch the fabric.

TIP: as shown in the video, insert a pencil into the starter hole to stretch it wide enough to fit over the post of the grommet.

BYOB Bag 68_BOF

Place the other side of the grommet over the post, then use a grommet plier to squeeze the two pieces of metal together.

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Fold the ends under along the length (pin or press it):

BYOB Bag 70_BOF

Step 11: Stitch Casing Around Opening of Bag

Take the casing to the sewing machine and stitch it around the top opening of the bag on both edges to make a casing for the cord.

BYOB Bag 39_BOF

Step 12: Thread Cord Into Casing

Thread one end of the cord saved from the plastic shopping bag through the eye of a bodkin.

Insert it into the grommet and thread it all the way around the casing and back out the other side.

Step 13: Add the Cord Lock Onto the Cord

Squeeze the plastic cord lock to open it, thread the two ends of the cord through and release the lock. Tie each end of the cord into a knot (if the ends are frayed, you can trim them or carefully pass a lighter over them to fuse and seal the edges together).

Step 14: Enjoy!

Now, all that’s left is to slip your favourite bottle of wine into the bag, cinch up the cord and away you go. The original bag handle still serves as a shoulder strap to carry it!

Here’s a few closeups of the back:

Step 16: A Useful and Sustainable Upcycle: Make One As a Gift!

With more more reusable bags than we need, this was the perfect way to transform them. The two bags combined together made them into something even more useful than they were originally. I had just enough left over from both bags to make another one; so I made the other one as a holiday gift!

As a finishing touch, why not add a restaurant gift card in the front pocket?

If you can sew a straight line, I hope you’ll give my BYOB bag a try!! You’ll be all set for gift giving this holiday season!

Pinning is always welcome and appreciated!

Now that you’ve got printing on fabric down to a science, how about printing on canvas? Anything is possible once you’ve got the technique down 😉.

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6 thoughts on “BYOB Upcycled Gift Bag: Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

    • Thanks Alys – any many thanks for letting me know about Bloglovin. It looks like it’s up and running again; I’ll know for sure when I post again. Unfortunately my site has now slowed down to a crawl; probably something to do with the newest wordpress updates not playing nice with some of my plugins. Sigh; always something 🙂

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