Rag Bag Upcycle

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Rag Bag Upcycle

As I explained in the first post this month, I’m taking a look at green cleaning in my home. In my pursuit of minimalism, I set aside a few towels we didn’t need and have been looking for ways to repurpose them. I decided a good use of one of the towels would be replacing the cardboard box kept in a drawer where I usually store my rags. If I had a bag to hold my rags and spray bottles that I could hang near my cleaning supplies, that would be a lot more convenient. So why not make a cleaning organizer rag bag out of an unneeded towel!?

This project is fairly easy. While using a sewing machine is easier — if your towel is not too thick — you can choose to hand-sew it as well.

A word of warning: I technically can sew, but I’m not very good at it. My mom is the sewing expert. Try as she might to teach me when I was young, it just didn’t take. So please, sewing experts, forgive my crooked seams and elementary instructions.


  • Bath towel
  • Measuring tape
  • Marker
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Straight pins (optional, but helpful)
  • Ribbon or twine for casing and hanging the bag
  • Safety pin (if towel is not too thick) or length of firm cable, like for picture hanging if towel is thick


Cut Your Towel

Make sure your towel is not too thick or your sewing machine might not be able to sew through all the layers.  Or you can plan to hand-sew your bag. I’ll be honest, I did need to hand-sew some parts of this bag because my machine wouldn’t go through 4 layers of the towel.

Lay the towel out in front of you with the width going left to right. Starting on the right side short edge, fold the towel back on itself to make a 12 inch fold.  Make sure you measure at multiple points up and down the fold so it is 12 inches at top, middle, and bottom. Mark a line from top to bottom along the edge of the folded edge.  Cut along this line. Set aside, but save the remainder of the towel for a different project — a second bag, new rags or unpaper towels.

Make sure your fold measures 12″ all the way along

Finish the Edge

Finish (sew) the entire cut edge of your bag to prevent fraying.  I suggest using a wide zigzag stitch (I used 4.0) with a short stitch length (1.0).  If you have a serger you could serge the edges as well.

Mark Pockets

Lay out your cut piece so the finished cut edge is on your left.  Fold up from the bottom of your cut piece to make a 7 ½ inch fold.  You should have 24” width of towel running left to right in front of you. Mark a line on the pocket section every 6 inches, top to bottom on the fold from the bottom of the cut piece only. You will sew along these lines to make the pockets of the rag bag.  Pin this pocket section to the main body, avoiding pinning around the marked lines you will sew on.

Mark for the pockets every 6″

Sew Pockets

Using the same zigzag stitch you used to finish the edge, sew along each marked pocket line.  Make sure to backstitch at top and bottom to reinforce your pocket.

With a straight stitch, short stitch length (1.5), sew the outer edges of the pocket on both sides to close your pocket.

Top Casing

Turn your bag over so the pockets are facing down and are at the bottom, closest to you.  Fold down toward you the top edge 1 inch. Using your marker, mark the edge on the main bag body all along the fold.  Using a short stitch length (1.5) fold down the top and line it up with your marked line. Sew through the fold and casing, as close to the edge as you can without “falling off” the casing fold.

Sew as close to the edge as you can without going over, making sure to sew down the casing edge all the way along

Main Opening Side

Fold your bag in half long-wise, right sides together (pockets inside the fold). Position your bag so the pockets are to your left.  Align the top (casing) and bottom (pocket bottom) edges. Place a mark 4 inches in from the top casing edge. Place another mark 2 inches above the top line of the pocket.  This marks the opening you will leave to get your rags in and out of the bag.

Using the short side zigzag stitch settings again, stitch from your top mark UP, toward the casing edge but STOP at your casing stitch line.  DO NOT stitch through your casing! You’ll need to feed a ribbon through there so you need to leave your casing open.  Stitch from your bottom mark above the pocket line DOWN all the way to the bottom of your bag.

Stitch the bottom edge closed.  Turn the bag right side out. Be sure to push the bottom corners out.

Hanging Ribbon

I’ll be honest – my towel was perhaps a bit too thick.  It was impossible to feed the ribbon through the casing using a safety pin. Usually you just pin a safety pin on one end of the ribbon and then feed it into the casing, working the safety pin all the way through to the other end.  However, my towel was so thick that wouldn’t work. So I improvised. I took a piece of firm picture hanging wire, made a small hook at the end so the wire didn’t hang on up on the fabric, then pushed it all the way through the casing.  Then I hooked the safety pin on the ribbon onto the wire and pulled it back through the casing.

Hanging Loop

Once your ribbon is through the casing gather as much as you can, pulling the ribbon tight.  Tie a double knot. Make a loop about 4-5 inches above the bag, or however long you want to hang your bag. Tie another double knot to make your hanging loop. Trim off the ends of the ribbon, if necessary.

Hang your bag! You can put your spray bottles, old toothbrushes for small scrubs, etc. in the pockets. Load your rags inside the bag where they will always be handy for cleaning.

This was a quick, fun project to do. It feels great to repurpose something that wasn’t needed in my home anymore into something useful. I hope you find it useful, too!

For my next post, I’m working on a pasta salad with a great lemon dressing. I chose this recipe because I want the lemon peels to make citrus cleaning vinegar!

I hope you will stop in to Kreateedoo again soon.

Peace and be well.


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