Monday, February 21, 2011

Clear Vinyl Tote Bag

I am really excited about how this one turned out. It is a tote bag made from clear vinyl, and has pockets on both sides that you can place anything you want in. I chose, yet again, some Picasso prints from a book. However, it would be great for things from old calendar images, shopping lists, that bus pass you always lose, your own original art, or book pages (though I recommend being like myself and using pages from "bargain books").

I used 12 gauge vinyl and an industrial needle on my sewing machine. Also, I opted for thread that would stand out from the vinyl, while you could certainly try to find something that would blend in and not become a feature of your bag. This is not a project I would recommend for beginning sewers, as the vinyl can be a bit tricky to maneuver.

One of the best things about this bag is that if you get tired of the art on your bag, you just get to switch it out and you have a brand new bag that can match anything. It also happens to be nice that it is waterproof (being in Portland) and that all you need to do to clean it is wipe it with a wet towel or sponge. If you wanted to take it out in the rain very often I would probably sew a flap over your picture pockets to keep more water out, as these pockets are open.

I chose to use a nylon corded handle because I find them to be pretty comfortable to carry around, but you could opt for canvas, or even make a matching handle with the vinyl itself.

Here is my original concept sketch if you would like to try out your own bag. Measurements are not included, as you can make this bag any size you wish.

Click to enlarge


  1. that's a great looking bag! so practical and versatile too. if i want to use clear vinyl (overlay on fabric or some recycled materials) to sew a little zipper purse....would a gauge 10 or 6 vinyl be easier to sew? i've never sewed with vinyl before! :P

  2. If you are sewing the vinyl onto fabric, you can definitely use a thicker gauge vinyl, especially if you want something very sturdy and long lasting. It will definitely be easier to sew a thinner gauge, but if you use a more heavy duty needle, like I did, there will be no problem.

    Also, as pinning your vinyl will leave holes that don't really go away, I would suggest finding some kind of tape to hold your vinyl in place while sewing. I didn't use tape or pins, as the vinyl sticks to itself so sewing vinyl to vinyl doesn't really require pinning. Also, while sewing you may find that the vinyl sticks to your machine base or the foot you are using on your machine (depending on the material of the foot or machine are made from). I would suggest a teflon of plastic foot, or using teflon tape to cover over these portions of your machine if sticking is a problem.

    Let me know if you have any other questions, I really am becoming a fan of vinyl.

  3. thanks for the great tips!!! :) yeah...i think i do have a teflon foot but i haven't tried it before.

    would a denim needle suffice or do i have to use something even heavier than that?

    i have a huge stash of chocolate plastic wrappers (reese) and potato chips bags...was just thinking what i can do with them.

    so i thought perhaps to overlay them with vinyl and make something quirky out of those recycled materials that i can give away as gifts to my friends.

    for example, luggage tags, placemats, little purses, pencil holders, toiletry bags, wet bags etc.

    i believe i could become a great fan of vinyl too...once i've learned how to use it for my sewing.

    thanks again!

  4. A denim needle should work just fine. I would be interested in finding out how your projects turn out!

  5. will keep you posted once i get down to it. now i need to find out where i can buy some good and inexpensive vinyl!

  6. hihi, thanks for all your earlier advice...i bought the vinyl (12 & 20 gauge), denim needle, a teflon roller foot...and have started working on vinyl pieces. here are some of the stuffs that i've made so far.

    it's kinda fun sewing with vinyl. thanks for all the tips and ideas!!

  7. Those are awesome! I'm sharing them with all of my other readers as well!