Tutorial: Upcycled Rice Bag Tote! ~ Diane's Vintage Zest!

Tutorial: Upcycled Rice Bag Tote!

Some of you may be familiar with those upcycled tote bags made from flour sacks, old banners, and even candy wrappers!  Ever since I started seeing these bags on sale (for way too much!), I was itching to repurpose a tote bag for trips to the farmers market, craft fairs, or the beach.

A few weeks ago, my mom had two huge rice bags that she kept for me, "in case I could do something with them."  I love that people start to reserve items for me, especially ones that have come in handy!  This was my first attempt to work with the rice bag material, and it worked out pretty well.  This is the perfect tote material because it is super light AND incredibly durable!

My bag in action, toting around the pattern I traced for the portrait blouse!

I have already worked with vinyl, leather, and heavy home decor fabrics, but I was expecting this to be tougher.  I could not have been more wrong!  It was easy, light, and did not stick to my machine like the vinyl.  Yay!

Originally, I was just going to post a picture of my finished tote bag, but since I took a couple of pictures while I was sewing, here's a tutorial instead!

Rice Bag Tote 1

What You Will Need

Rice bag
Heavy duty webbing, for handles (length depends on desired finished length)
Heavy duty thread

1. Cut the opening of the bag evenly across the top to your desired height.

  • Note:  My bag is pretty short, but only because my mom had hacked off the top half before giving it to me.  You can choose to keep yours intact, if you wish.  My next one is going to be nice, tall, and intact!

2. Turn the bag inside out.

Rice Bag Tote 2
The bag on the left is the larger one that my mom kept intact for me.  I can't wait to make another one!

3. Optional:  I wanted the bag to have some depth, so I pinched the bottom of the bag and sewed across, like in the picture below.  Repeat for both sides.  This way, even when the bag is empty, it can stay standing upright.  Otherwise, it will lay completely flat, like the bag above on the left.

Rice Bag Tote 3

4.  Hem the top of the bag by folding over twice and sewing across.

Rice Bag Tote 4

5. Next, figure out the length of your desired straps by playing around with the webbing length and pinning to your bag, if necessary.

Rice Bag Tote 5

6. To prevent fraying, I used a narrow zig-zag stitch over the ends of the webbing.  Please excuse the blurry picture!

Rice Bag Tote 6

7.  Pin the straps in place and adjust the length if needed.

Rice Bag Tote 7

8. Sew in place as shown below, in a box and X formation.

Rice Bag Tote 8

That's it!  Enjoy your new tote bag!

To prove how sturdy the bag is, I loaded it up with lots of sewing supplies (plus a paper pattern) so you can see how well it hangs with a heavy load.  Not bad!

Rice Bag Tote 9

Anyways, I hope you enjoy making your own.  I have fun plans for the next one since it is such a long awkward shape.

Happy sewing!


  1. Love this! Definitely going to have to make one.

  2. Yes! It's fun to tote around something that I upcycled from a bag that would have been trashed. :)

  3. It looks great, People also "save" things for me, just in case - it's great isn't it! I get to work and find a pile on my desk of old greeting cards or a little bag with those ribbons that new clothes have on them. Something useful from what would have gone in the bin - brilliant!

  4. True! I love that your coworkers leave little presents for you, and ones that don't involve deadlines!

  5. I love this!! I'm going to have to buy our Jasmine Rice in the big bags again :)

  6. I totally love this! My cousin always buys rice in big sacks.I'll have ti ask him for one!

  7. Stopping by from 733 party and SO glad I saw this idea you have and will try it soon!

  8. I love bags like these. Thanks so much for sharing with Wednesday’s Adorned From Above Link Party.

    Have a great week.

    Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above

  9. Love your bag! Found you thru the linky party at A Little Bird Told Me! New follower!

  10. That's a really cute idea! I think I might be able to use my dog's Pedigree dog food bags, too. I think they're made out of similar material.

  11. Thanks for posting, I've always hated throwing away my rice bags as I knew there had to be a craft our there. Love it!

  12. Thank you! It's so easy that you could definitely make your own!

  13. Turned out great! I do the same thing with our chicken feed bags. They make great gift bags or gifts. :-)

  14. I'd love to see those! Thanks for visiting. :)

  15. I love upcycled projects! Great job. Thanks for linking up to Gingerly Made's Show & Tell party.

  16. OH my goodness. What a fantastic idea!

    Again, thanks for joining the Link Up this week!

  17. Great tutorial - I love your 'new' bag Diane! :)

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!

    Hope you have a fabulous week!

    Jill @ Creating my way
    to Success


  18. Thank you! I know you're the refashioning queen. :)

  19. This is so very cool (by the way I love all of your projects!) I need to find a rice bag now...asap!

  20. I am so charmed by this bag. And my friends and family also save their "trash" for me to use in a project. It always amuses me, but I'm also thankful. Thanks for sharing at Inspire Us Thursday on Organized 31.

  21. Thanks so much! I can't imagine eating that much rice, so I'm glad that other people save their "garbage" for me!

  22. What sweet words! It's always fun to unearth the treasure from someone else's trash. :)


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