Jan 5, 2012

Dollar Store Crafting-Activity Bags

I don't know about you, but I think The Dollar Store should be renamed The Twenty Dollar Store.  It seems that every time I enter that store, I can't leave until I have at least twenty dollars worth of stuff in my basket!  But, they do have some good stuff!  I figure a post every once in a while of something made from dollar store supplies might be kind of fun.  First up are activity bags, each made from two place mats and a pot holder.

Supplies needed for each bag:

2 placemats (one for the body, part of one for the handles)
1 pot holder, rectangular w/ pocket and loop (if it doesn't have a pocket, that's alright, you just won't be able to make small pockets to hold crayons)
8 zip lock sandwich bags
1 2/3 yd. double fold bias tape
1 yd. or less wide ribbon (enough to go around the circumference of the bag)
1 button
needle and thread
tape measure
chalk (or whatever your preference is in marking lines for sewing)
sewing machine

Pictures for this tutorial are unfortunately going to begin part way through the process (on account of some accidentally deleted photos!)  Therefore, I will try to explain the best I can.  Begin by cutting two strips about 1 1/4" wide by the width of your place mat.  These will be used for the handles.  The rest of this place mat won't be used, unless you want to fashion a pocket from it and stitch it to the bag.  You could also get by with just one place mat if you use ribbon or something else for the handles.  Next, finish the edges of the handles with double fold bias tape.  Position the handles on each end of the place mat (on the right side) and baste in place.  Apply the wide ribbon to the edge of the place mat, covering the ends of the handles.  For added strength, top stitch where the handles attach as seen in the photo below.

Next, fold the placemat (with the ribbons and handles already stitched on), right sides together.  Stitch the side seams.

At the bottom corner of each side seam, open the seam flat and stitch a boxed corner at each corner.

Turn the bag inside out.  This is the view from the inside.

This is the view from the outside.

Your bag is now complete.  How simple was that?!

Next on the agenda is the potholder organizer.  I wanted small pockets for twist-up crayons, so I measured off ten equal spaces and stitched them from the top of the pocket to the center of the potholder.

Once I completed that, I tested the pockets with the crayons.  Oops! They were too tight.  So I picked out every other seam which left me with five pockets.

The crayons fit much better with two crayons to a pocket.

I wanted zip lock bags in the middle to hold other supplies.  I had the hardest time finding the right bags! I really wanted the kind of bags that actually have the little plastic sliders to close them.  But....all the brands were too wide and the bags hung out over the edges of the potholder.  So I had to settle on regular zip lock bags that are made just a touch narrower.  Lay the bags on top of each other, alternating every other one.  I used eight bags, four each direction.  I held them in place with large paper clips.  Mark a line down the center.

Stitch the bags in place.

A view of the back.

Trim away the excess plastic.  Now I know that some of you might think it would be easier to use snack bags.  You could, but I think they might be harder to keep in place while you stitch them.

Stitch a button on the outside and fill it with fun stuff!

And there you go...a cute bag that can be filled with all sorts of fun stuff to keep little ones quietly entertained!

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  1. Such fun activity bags! It's amazing how you just keep coming up with more cute ideas!

  2. OK that is more than clever, it is genius!! I love it


  3. Beautifully done Susan! I love the fabric choices too...fun and bright! Linking up after you on Fingerprints on the Fridge. Happy to have found you and happily following you.
    Take care!

  4. You are a genius! Amazing! I gotta make some of these!

  5. Love this! What a fabulous idea!!!

  6. Oh my gosh, these are fantastic! I love the potholder ones for crayons and stuff! :)

  7. This is brilliant to use the potholder! I've seen the baggies sewn but never thought to use a potholder too. So trying this soon. Thanks for sharing!


  8. Came to visit from Candace Creations Scrappy Party. Well I swear this so makes me want to learn to sew. How stinkin' cute is all that!! I LOVE it!!

  9. Visiting from TT&J. This is pure genius! Thx for sharing.

  10. This is a brilliant idea! I never thought of using placemats for bags. I'm pinning this now to make some for my kids. I would love it if you would come share at my link party:


  11. Those turned out great! What a great gift idea!
    You should join me for "Handmade 52" http://raisingoranges.blogspot.com/2012/01/handmade-52.html

  12. You did a beautiful job creating your activity bags...they are wonderful and very professional looking. I am now a follower of your blog and look forward to return visits. I invite you to join me as well on my blog at http://atastefultouch.blogspot.com
    Hugs, Gayle.

  13. Oh this is so brilliant! Pinning this one for future reference!

  14. WTG Susan! I've seen these before and have always wanted to make them. I saw them made for first aid kits though, I'm loving this idea for my girls. Thanks for sharing!!

  15. pretty stinkin cute! so gonna be on the hunt for placemats now! would love to have you come join in the fun!


  16. Great work on those bags - and I just LOVE those pot holder wallets! What a brilliant idea!

    I would love if you came over and linked this project to my weekly Round Tuit party at:
    Have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  17. So cute, I'm stopping by from The Girl Creative. I pinned you to my Pinterest.

  18. These are awesome!! Thank you for sharing!!

  19. Absolutely remarkable! You should open up an etsy shop with skills like this because I would sure be a customer. I couldn't come up with this on my own:)

  20. I use the snack size ones for jewelry when traveling.........all in one place and secure

  21. I am totally drooling!! Making note to self to grab some potholders and placemats next time I hit the Dollar tree... AKA my second home! Found you on Pinterest! Now a follower!

  22. How clever. Because I can't stand the idea of cutting off the bottoms of the baggies I think it would be cute to put something in the bottom half of the bags -- pictures, trivia, anything printed on paper or cardstock. I'm gonna have to make ate least one set of these!

  23. Oh my gosh, these are exactly what I am looking for! Thank you!


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate the feedback and always look forward to reading what you have to say! Susan