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Elastic Blog

Shopping Tote Bag Craft Project using Fold Over Elastic Strips

Posted by Douglas Gray on

The use of Fold Over Elastic strips in craft projects is very popular and easy to accomplish. This stretchy material provides for the means to give your project some flexibility in its structure while still retaining its original form. A bag made of elastic strips is the preferred type of bag to go shopping with for those of you that generally make larger purchases than planned and makes it possible to carry what you need home.

The Simple but useful Fold Over Elastic Bag

One of the easiest but most useful items that can be made with elastic strips is a bag. The size of the bag is determined by the amount of elastic strips you have on hand and your needs. The only skills required by the craftsperson are to have the ability to sew and weave.

The first step is to determine the circumference of the open you want for your bag. This example is for a bag that will have a circumference of almost 2 feet. The exact measurement is 23 3/4”. The distance is the same as 38 fold over elastic strips that are 5/8” wide set side by side. This example will use the same length of the bag as the circumference. Your length can vary depending on your needs. The example in this set of instructions will require a total of 192 feet of elastic strip to be available. This will give you enough material to cut 77 28” strips of elastic and two that are 78”. The additional material at the end of each strip is for the sewing of the edges and joining them together.

With the first strip that will the top base, place a mark exactly in the middle. This will make it possible to have the same amount of extra material at each end once the weave is completed. By starting in the middle and working your way to each end, 18 elastic strips are to be placed on each side of the center mark. These strips are referred to as the warp. The end should be lopped over to cover the base strip and sewn in place with a zigzag stitch. Keeping the elastic strips as close together as possible will give you the best possible result.

The next step is to place one of the 28” strips next the base strip you just sewn all of the warf strips too. These are the weft. This has to be done in a weave or under, over alternating pattern. Take your time with this step so the elastic strips are tight up against each other. The tighter the weave, the stronger the bag will be. The remaining 37 strips are then to be placed in this weave one at a time. Remember to weave it in a manner so that the ends of the strips hanging out over the edge are equal on each side.

For many the placement of a couple of anchor stitches once a strip is woven into place is used to help keep it in its proper place. One stitch is to be placed on each side of the warf strip which is in the weave that is holding the weft strip taunt in the weave. One at each end is the minimum with the best being on every other strip running across the top. Many craftsperson place a stitch on every 4th to 6th strip across the top. The exact number is determined by your patience and any time constants set on the project.

Once the weave is completed, the next step is to create the ends where the seam of the sides and bottom of the bag are created. This is where the ends of the weft ends are sewn over one of the 78” long strips just like the top was done. This is done around all three edges with the excessive amount of material trimmed off once completed. The weave is then folded over so what is to be the interior of the bag facing outwards. Starting at the top on one of the sides, sew a zigzag stitch joining the two ends until you reach the other side’s top. For additional strength, the other piece of 78” fold over elastic strip should be placed covering this joint. Again a zigzag stitch should be used. All zigzag stitches should be twice as wide as they are long that are used in this project.

Accessories you can add to your Elastic Bag

Every bag needs a set of handles. This can be done with a set of three to five breaded strips of elastic. The preferred size for the bag above is approximately 9 to 12”. There should be one on each side of the opening located in the middle.

Another very popular accessory that can be added to your elastic bag is the addition of a liner. So the bags ability to expand if not inhibited to any great level, the liner you can install should be made of a spandex material. A measurement of the interior of your bag should be done upon its completion so you know the exact amount of material necessary for the liner. In the above example the area should be close to 2 feet wide and 4 feet in length. Remember to have enough material for a small hem to be sewn into place on the edges before the liner is sewn into the bag for the best possible appearance.