How to Sew a Car Trash Bag

How to Sew a Car Trash Bag

By Erin Huffstetler | 10/22/2020 | 1 Comment

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Need some help keeping the inside of your car or truck clean? This car trash bag is the answer. Sew one up for yourself. Then, sew up a few more to gift.

The bag has a built-in strap to keep it firmly in place during tight turns and sudden stops, and a stay-open design that makes it easy to use.

It’ll work in any vehicle, and can be hung from your gear shifter, a headrest or the center console – whichever placement works best for you.

And since it’s washable and reusable, it’s way better than using a plastic grocery bag.

This is a simple sewing project, and a good use for your scraps. Here’s how to make one.

Car Trash Bag Tutorial

What You’ll Need:

  • (1) 10″ x 20″ piece of fabric for the exterior (canvas, denim, twill, outdoor fabric, or another sturdy option)
  • (2) 10″ x 10″ pieces of fabric for the lining
  • (1) 3″ x 22″ piece of fabric for the strap
  • (1) 10″ x 20″ piece of medium or heavy-weight interfacing (iron-on or sew-in)
  • Thread
  • A ruler
  • Scissors
  • Sewing pins or sewing clips
  • A sewing machine (This is the machine that I have)

Optional (but nice to have):

I tested this bag in several vehicles, and determined that 22 inches was a good universal length for the strap, but you can certainly customize the fit to your vehicle. Just carry a measuring tape out to your car, and measure to see what works best. You could even add a buckle to make the strap adjustable, if you wanted to.

This bag is machine-washable, but you may want to make it out of laminated cotton or oil cloth, if you think it’s likely to contain sticky messes. This will allow you to rinse or wipe the bag out between washes.

Warning: If you decide to make your bag out of laminated cotton, oil cloth or outdoor fabric, use sew-in interfacing. Ironing interfacing onto the back of these fabrics is likely to cause them to melt.

What You Do:

Let’s start by making the strap for your bag. It’s easy and fun.

Fabric for Car Trash Bag Handle

Just lay the piece you cut for the strap on your work surface, right-side down.

Fold Handle in Half on the Short Side

Then, fold it in half, long ways, using your fingers to firmly crease the fold.

Unfold Fabric Handle

Open it back up, so you can see the crease you made.

Fold Bottom of Fabric Up to Center Crease

Then, fold the bottom edge of the fabric up to the crease …

Fold Top Edge of Fabric Down to Center Crease

and fold the top edge of the fabric down to the crease.

Fold Handle in Half to Hide Seams

Finish by folding the whole thing in half to hide the raw edges …

Sew Down Both Sides of Handle

Then, sew a 1/8-inch seam down both sides.

Now, set the strap aside, so you can work on the bag.

Pin or Iron Interfacing on Back of 10" x 20" Piece of Fabric

Start by pinning or ironing the interfacing to the back of the 10″ x 20″ piece of fabric that you chose for the outside of your bag.

Sew a Half-Inch Seam Down Both Sides

Then, fold the fabric in half, right-sides facing, and sew a 1/2-inch seam down both sides.

Flatten Bottom of Side Seam Into a Triangle

To create box corners for your bag, place your hand inside the bag, and find the bottom of one of the side seams. Then, use your other hand to flatten out the side of the bag, so that the bottom of the seam forms a triangle. Try to make it symmetrical.

Then, measure two inches down from the top point of the triangle, and draw a line straight across.

Sew Across the Line You Drew

Sew across the line you drew.

Cut Corner Off Above Seam

Then, cut the corner off above the seam, and repeat the process on the other side of the bag.

Boxed Corner

Turn the bag right-side out when you’re done, and you should have boxed corners that allow the bag to stand on its own.

Sew Trash Bag Lining

To create the lining for your bag, pin the 10″ x 10″ pieces of fabric together, right-sides facing. Then, sew a half-inch seam down both sides and the bottom, leaving a three-inch opening at the center of the bottom seam, for turning.

Box the Corners of the Trash Bag Lining

Box the corners of the lining, just like you did for the exterior of the bag.

Now, it’s time to assemble your bag!

Pin Handle to Side of Car Trash Bag

Pin the strap to the center of one of the unboxed sides of the bag.

Attach Handle

Then, sew it to the bag. I recommend going back and forth over the strap a few times, so it’ll be nice and sturdy.

I took the table extension off my sewing machine for the next couple steps, so I’d be able to slip the bag over the base of my machine.

Place Exterior of Bag Inside Lining With Right-Sides Facing

Now, tuck the exterior of the bag inside the lining, with right-sides facing. Make sure the side seams line up and that the handle is neatly tucked between the two layers.

Sew a Quarter-Inch Seam at Top of Bag

Sew a 1/4-inch seam around the top of the bag to join the exterior and lining.

Turn Bag Over to Reveal Open Seam

Then, turn the bag upside down to reveal the open seam at the bottom of the lining.

Pull Exterior of Bag Through Seam to Turn Right-Side Out

And use it to turn the bag right-side out.

Car Trash Bag Turned Right-Side Out

Just keep pulling the bag through the hole, until both the exterior and interior of the bag are turned the right way.

Sew Open Seam in Lining Shut

Then, sew up the hole in the lining….

Tuck Lining Inside Car Trash Bag

Tuck the lining neatly inside the bag….

Top-Stitch Around Top of Car Trash Bag

And finish by top-stitch around the top of your car trash bag.

Now, the only thing left is to decide where you’re going to put it.

Hang it over the gear shifter, and to the right, so that it rests on the passenger’s side of your car….

Car Trash Bag Hanging From Gear Shifter Facing Center

Hang it from the gear shifter, facing center….

Car Trash Bag Hanging From Back of Front Seat

Slip it over a front headrest, so it hangs on the back of a front seat….

Car Trash Bag Hanging From Center Console

Hang it from the center console, …

Car Trash Bag Hanging From Center Headrest in Back Seat

or hang it from the center headrest in the back seat. So, many great options!

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