I unpicked the side and bottom seams of each bag. Actually, I unpicked one of the lines of stitching at the bottom but decided to cut the waste part (the circle) off next to the line of overlocking because the two layers of fabric were overlocked together.
The pieces I got from the two bags looked like this:
First, I ironed the pieces flat and measured them.
I decided to unpick one end of each handle so I could make two longer handles instead of four short handles. So, I needed to leave the line of stitching in place that goes around the top (red line) and remove the stitching for the handle (blue lines).
I pinned and sewed the two bags together down the sides (green lines), using a sewing machine. This gave me a tube, open at both ends, with the handles at the top.
I pinned the handles together so the side seams were off-centre. Then I sewed along the bottom of the bag between the two side seams (green line).
Complex bit: I folded the bottom corner of the bag at 45° so the bottom seam ran down the centre and one of the side seams went off at right angles to the side. I pinned across the corner and sewed (green line). Then I did the same on the other bottom corner.
When the bag was turned right side out, it looked like this:
Now I decided how long I wanted my handles to be. I ended up overlapping them and stitching them together at each end of the overlap.
I tried to follow the original lines of stitching (not sure that it mattered so much, but I decided that it looked good).
I unpicked a small line of stitching that secured the drawstrings on the original bags:
Then, I tied the two drawstrings together at each end. I used fisherman’s knots. Keeping the drawstrings means I can close up the top of the bag a bit.
The two circular pieces that used to form the bottom of the original bags are left over. I am wondering whether I should stitch them onto the front and back of my new bag as a decoration?
Why did you decide to hack the item?
The idea of recycling something that was already recycled appealed to me.
How long and how much did it cost?
It took me less than an afternoon. The pillows cost me AU$20 each, but I don’t know if that means my reusable shopping bag cost $40, or was it free?
What do you like most about the hack?
The cotton feels nice.
What was the hardest part about this hack?
Deciding how to do the corners.
What to pay special attention to?
Gathering up the bits of unpicked thread and disposing of them carefully. Most sewing thread is made from polyester, and I suspect that tiny bits from unpicking could become microplastics.
Jules Yap started IKEAHackers.net in 2006 as a personal blog to showcase the most impressive IKEA hacks from all over the world. Since then, she has learned a lot more about power tools and DIY. Her site has helped thousands modify IKEA furniture with step-by-step tutorials, craft projects and home styling.