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

You may have heard the joke about the secret to enjoying good wine: open the bottle to allow it to breathe; if it isn’t breathing, give it mouth to mouth!

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 one 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!

Whether you make this for yourself, for your host 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 the holiday season, I’ve done a version with a graphic that would be ideal to use for gift giving 🙂 In keeping with the ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry’ theme, I sewed the graphic onto the front of the bag leaving an opening at the top. The opening makes a pocket that holds a dining gift card to a local restaurant:

Of course, for our BYOB bag, I couldn’t resist using my own Birdz of a Feather logo (as shown below and in the uncut version of 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 my own logo to demonstrate how it’s done (and subscribe to my 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!

BYOB Bag 16_BOF.jpg

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 choose the ‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry’ image shown below – or any other graphic/text combo to embellish yours and make it unique! See this post for more info on printing with a home computer (look under the heading ‘Printing your Images to Canvas’.

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.

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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.

BYOB Bag 53_BOF.jpg

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.

BYOB Bag 57_BOF.jpg

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!

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4 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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