Photo & Article: Susan Pelton for UConn Extension
This has certainly been a very cold winter and so many of the feathered species that remain in Connecticut rely on backyard feeders for a good amount of their nourishment. If you are providing for the birds in your yard (as we are) you are probably going through quite a bit of bird food. Have you ever noticed the variety and attractiveness of the seed bags? The images on the bags are quite lovely and so colorful. And the bags themselves are both waterproof and durable as they need to keep the seed dry and contained during the storage time.
In 2010 my fellow Master Gardener, Ellen Bender, showed me instructions that she had found on-line that would recycle empty birdseed bags into durable tote bags. I made several of the tote bags that were sold as fundraisers for the UConn Tolland County Extension Office. These bags are great for carrying damp gardening gloves and boots or bathing suits and towels. If you have a sturdy sewing machine, an empty birdseed bag, and about an hour’s time you can construct one for yourself. I use a #16 needle (such as you would use to sew denim) and heavyweight thread. The instructions are as follows:
Step 1: Depending on the size of the bag you may want to trim material horizontally from the top, bottom or both. This will be used to construct the handles so you want a piece that is at least 3″ wide. Try to keep as much of the image as possible.
Step 2: On the top edge, fold it over twice (as if you are hemming jeans) and sew it.
Step 3: On the bottom edge cut 1″ notches from the corners. Sew the bottom seam and then zigzag stitch it to finish it.
Step 4: Fold the bag at the notches so that the bottom seam is against where a side seam would be then stitch and zigzag.
Step 5: Using the trimmings, cut two strips to be used as handles. Fold in the edges and stitch down both long sides.
Step 6: Fold the ends of the strips under an inch. Evenly space the handles and sew them on the outside of the front and back of the bag.
Please check our archives for the blog posting from January 16, 2014 entitled ‘Eating Like a Bird’ for information on caring for our feathered friends during these cold winter months.