The Crazy Cat Lady Tote Bag

Have you noticed that the commercially made tote bags are made from the same fabric as the Friskies cat food bags?

Of course you haven’t. Why would you?

A few years ago I got the bright idea that I would stitch up some tote bags using the cat food bag fabric. It’s like a woven plastic with a sheen, and it slid under the presser foot uncontrollably. I gave it up. It wasn’t meant to be.

This month all the stars and planets came into alignment.

I have been using the empty cat food bags as recycling bags for empty cans and plastic containers. I’ll have to find another storage container for those recyclables because the cat lady tote bag is a happening thing.

The secret was to adjust the tension on the sewing machine. I’m using a basic Brother machine with some zigzag and buttonhole features.

I told over the top of the bag and stitch a double row of straight stitches to secure the hem. I measure from the top down about 20″ and cut there. The bag is already in a stout tube shape so there is no side seam to stitch. Turn the bag inside out and seam across the bottom. Flatten the bag so that the bottom seam touches the imaginary side seam and creates a point. Stitch another seam about 4″ long across the point. Do this also on the other end. Trim off the point.

I like to use the original strip of fabric that was stitched across the top of the bag at the factory to close the bag, and use it to encase the bottom seams. It makes the bag very strong and hold its shape.

I ordered some polyethylene strapping online from an Etsy shop. Cut a length about 20″ long and seal the end by passing the cut end over an open flame like a lit match. One quick pass is enough.

Stitch the ends onto the bag, one strap per side. I know that y’all are smart people, and you can look at another tote you might already have and figure it out.

Now the fun cat pictures.

This was the first bag. The bottom seemed stout, and I hadn’t figured out the seam construction yet, so this 1st bag is a cut off bag with a turned-down stitched top and added straps. This might suit your purposes completely. I’ve used this one for a small load of laundry for the first time and then for groceries.

I studied the construction of a Trader Joe’s bag, courtesy of Sugar’s cousin Liz, and another smaller bag from a rescuer friend Kimberly.

My bag is in the middle. I used the bottom seam, but hadn’t yet improved it with the seam binding.

Moving on. A Beneful bag FROM a coworker turned into a tote FOR a coworker.

I further improved the construction by folding across the bottom, end to end, and stitching next to the fold. This bag stands upright by itself.

I cut my own seam binding from a leftover trimming from the top of the bag. The photo below shows the bag inside-out so that you can see the construction.

I’ve decided that I like the bag to be about 17″ high, and the base to be about 4″ deep. I’m using 1″ wide strapping. Many thanks go to the quality control team of Pop-Up and The Butter. I sent a little message to the Friskies people to show them what I am doing. The owner at the Alvin Ord’s sandwich shop in Beaufort has offered to save her bags for me. (They have a nice resident cat that I wrote about before.) This offer makes me think of all the places that use cat food. Shelters, kennels, businesses, pet owners – all potential sources of bags to be kept out of the landfill. Do you want a bag? Send me a little donation to my paypal at ruthmarierawlsATgmailDOTcom, and email your address to me, and I’ll pop a bag in the mail as soon as I stitch up some more. You people that have already sent a donation, sit tight. Your bag is coming soon!

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3 Responses to “The Crazy Cat Lady Tote Bag”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Very nice, Ruth. 🙂

    Like

  2. Sartenada Says:

    Cats are cute. Man can make different bags himself / herself:

    Quilted hand bags and toiletry bags

    Have a good day!

    Like

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