Tutorial Number 5

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Plastic Bag Keeper

The very functional plastic bag keeper/dispenser.

5 or so years ago I decided to make this as we were being taken over (as often happens with many things) by loose plastic bags – having looked around for a solution and discovering that I was likely to pay about £12 for a very basic plain one – decided to make my own.

Keeper 1

There is of course no restriction on the blocks you can use – the keeper's finished dimensions are (flat before sewn to make a tube): 12 inches x 18 inches (20 inches with casings flat). But this is the block I chose – you could of course use just one fabric and make a tube but what is the fun in that and this is a 'patchwork' project.

When I originally made the keeper I hadn't started with a plan and it came together organically – hence the fact that there are no measurements for the cord. This project would be ideal for a scrap project – you could even use scrap fabric as opposed to using patchwork cotton and string or spare shoelaces etc for the drawstrings.

For the basics of English Paper Piecing read Tutorials 1 to 4.

Plastic Bag Keeper

  •  2 or more fabrics (I used 4)
  • paper pieces

  • needle

  • thread

  • thimble etc

  • cord or something similar (I used piping cord which was left over from some cushion covers I made – which was an expensive choice but I didn't have anything else to hand at the time)


Decide on the fabrics you are going to use – I used 4 and then alternated them.

Each block has 8 pieces and there are 12 blocks so 96 pieces in the body then 24 (12 each) pieces for the casings – 120 pieces altogether. Cut out the paper pieces – all pieces are 2 inches by 1 inch – including the casings. Cut the same number of fabric pieces. Baste the pieces. Then piece the blocks.

I find the easiest way to piece this block as shown below:


When joining the pieces together rotate the block as above. Making 4 rows of 3 blocks. You can either attach the casings before sewing the back seam to complete the tube or after – when sewing them on before make sure to leave the ends open. With the right sides of the fabric together stitch the two long sides together to make the tube. You can then remove the basting and the papers.

On the original keeper I alternated the piecing of the casings – the choice is yours.

To attach the casing first stitch to the body with right sides together, then remove the papers and baste the seam allowance down making sure to keep the knots on the right side of the fabric (to make the basting thread easier to remove) and then fold over and stitch the casing to the body again with the wrong sides together as shown above.

With the cord or alternate you will need a short piece to form the dispensing end and a longer piece for the top hanging cord. Thread through both casings. For the dispensing end tie the cord so that the end is drawn closed. For the top leave as long a piece as you wish for the hanging cord.

Fill with plastic bags and hang in your kitchen or car or wherever you keep your multitude of plastic bags. You could even use it for reusable fabric bags if you are that organised.

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