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Recycling Bag Project

Recycling bag project

Do you not have space for various recycling boxes in your kitchen? Do your surfaces get cluttered with recycling until you have chance to take out and sort it? Then this recycling bag project is for you. It’s spacious enough to hold several days worth of recycling and can easily hang from a cupboard handle or hook on the wall so it’s not taking up precious space in a smaller kitchen. Why not embellish yours with the Prym recycled appliques like we did?

Prym eco-friendly appliques


1m of external fabric – I used denim, there’s lots of low cost denims available at Pound Fabrics.  You could even upcycle old jeans to make this bag.

1m of lining fabric – I used an old Amy Butler print from my stash.

1m of Stylevil Fix

Co-ordinating thread. We used Gutermann jeans thread, colour 4888

Optional – Prym recycled appliques to decorate, available from Empress Mills.

Cutting instructions

Cut 4 rectangles 12.5 inches wide and 16.5 inches high from the exterior fabric, lining fabric and Stylevil fix.

Cut 1 x 12.5 square from the exterior fabric, lining fabric and Stylevil fix

Cut 2 strips 3 inches wide and 22 inches long from the exterior fabric for the handles. If you aren’t using denim and don’t want your handles to be too floppy please interface them or add fusible fleece first.

Seam allowance – Quarter an inch

Recycling bag instructions

Prym eco-friendly appliques UK

Fuse the Styevil fix to the back of your exterior fabric. If you are using sew in foam instead them baste around the edge within the seam allowance to secure it to the fabric.

Choose where to place your Prym appliques. Fuse them into place as well, then stitch around the edge of them just to keep them in place.

How to make bag handles

To make the handles press them in half with the right sides facing outwards. Then open them up and fold the long raw edges in to the centre line you just created. Press again.

Sew along the open side to attach the 2 sides. Then top stitch on the other side to make it look the same on both sides of the handles. As you can see the Gutermann jeans thread blends in perfectly. 

How to sew handles onto a bag

On your front bag panel measure 4 inches in from the sides, and 3 inches down from the top on each side. Mark this with chalk.

Place either end of the strap onto these marks. Fold the short edge under around half an inch, pin into place.

Sew the ends of the strap to the front panel. I sew across the bottom, up around an inch, across to the other side them back down to the start point (making a rectangle). I then sew on the diagonal, along the top to the other corner and along the diagonal again so you end up with a rectangle with a cross in it.

Repeat these steps to secure a handle to the back panel of your bag too.

Large jeans tote project

Sew the side panels together from the top to the bottom, stopping quarter an inch from the bottom. If you are using appliques or directional prints make sure your front panel is the right way up! also make sure the 2 panels with the handles are opposite each other. 

Now attached the base to the sides, I use wonder clips as I find that easier than pins. Sew right around the edge. This is a bulky bag. It’s best to just sew one edge. Then tie off the stitching, cut the thread and completely re-position the bag under the needle to do the next side. Repeat for all 4. 

Turn the bag the right side out, run your finger right around the bottom edge from the inside to make sure you didn’t leave any gaps when sewing the base on.

Now pick up your lining pieces. Sew the sides together as you did the exterior, leaving quarter an inch gap at the bottom. Then sew the base on, but on one side only sew 1.5 inches in on either side leaving a gap of just over 9 inches to turn the bag through.  The foam makes it bulky so you want a large turning gap.

How to make a bag

Keep the lining inside out, pull it over the bag exterior from the base to the top. Your fabrics should now be right sides facing. Line up the top edges and wonder clip them into place. Make sure your straps are pushed down between the layers of fabric.

Sew around the top to join the lining to the exterior. Using the gap in the lining pull the bag exterior through. Sew the gap in the lining closed, then push the lining into the bag.

Top stitching a bag with Gutermann jeans thread

Press the lining around the top so it’s inside the bag the foam in the seam means some may be visible from the outside of the bag. Of course if you like that look you can leave it as is. Top stitch right around the top of the bag in matching thread to secure the lining in place.

How to make a bag to store recycling in

Et voila! Your recycling bag is finished and ready to hang in the kitchen and fill up with your recycling.


For other bag projects please visit our free sewing projects page and click the bag making tag.