Hey everyone! I am a huge fan of organization, and I function so much better when my surroundings are organized! I am a sucker for cute bags that help me stay organized. My most used bags are the large utility tote and the zip top organizing utility tote from Thirty One Gifts and various sizes of the LL Bean canvas totes. Both these brand bags last FOREVER, look cute, and are very functional. I wanted to talk about some of my favorite 31 hacks today and how I get the most use out of my bags by repurposing them. I used the zip top organizing utility tote as a diaper bag for my boys after my beloved Vera Bradley diaper bag bit the dust. I must say, after using both bags, I prefered the 31 bag over the Vera Bradley one, not only because of the cost being much cheaper, but also the features were more of what I needed. No I am not a 31 rep, I am just a huge fan!
I did a major kitchen and pantry clean out this past weekend, working on simplifying things and getting the most use out of what we already have. I have not used the diaper bag for a few months since both my kids are now potty trained, and I wanted to repurpose it in order to use it more efficiently. This is the zip top organizing utility tote:I wanted to still be able to use the bag as a bag, and it was also perfect to use as a storage solution for all of my blogging and project books. My only issue was that while it worked great for carrying everything around, once the books were in it, the bag fell over. I wanted it to be able to stand alone without having to lean it against something, regardless of how much or little was in it. You can buy file inserts for this particular bag, but I was aiming to not spend anything on this project. Instead, I made my own file insert. You can do this to almost any bag that has a flat bottom, and you can probably do it using things around your house!
Materials used for bag insert:
- foam core board (1 large sheet is $1 at the dollar store, I used white) or cardboard
- packing tape or duct tape
- ruler or measuring tape
- scissors or exacto knife
- contact paper or wrapping paper (Whatever you want to use to make it look pretty!)
1.First I measured the front/back and bottom of the bag with my measuring tape. I laid out my piece of foam core and measured these sections out. Don’t have foam core? You can cut up an old box!
You will have 3 total pieces outlined: the front, the back, and the bottom of the bag. After your measurements are made, you can cut your foam core. To do this, I used the scissors to score down the lines I drew. Then I bent the foam core in half. This makes it 100 times easier to cut the rest of the foam core. If you have an exacto knife or bread knife, that works too! FYI-The dollar store foam core cuts easier than the foam core at craft stores like Hobby Lobby. I believe 1 sheet at Hobby Lobby runs around $5-$6, so I usually stick to Dollar General or Dollar Tree when I need foam core.
Here are the 3 pieces once they were cut out.2.Using packing tape, I taped the 3 pieces of foam core together to look like the letter ‘U’.3.After the 3 pieces were tapped together, I covered it front and back with contact paper. You can use wrapping paper, or any kind of decorative paper that you want… it just makes it look pretty! I had the gold polka dot contact paper already, so I just decided to use that. I started on the bottom of one side and wrapped up the outside, then down into the inside and back up the other side until I ended back at the bottom of the insert. I ran out of the contact paper here, but since it is on the bottom, it doesn’t matter anyways.
Now I can use this bag to carry things around, as well as a stand alone storage bag to hold all of my blogging stuff. I love that I don’t have to lean the bag up against something in order to keep it from tipping over, and it fits perfectly on my pantry shelf. If you are interested in this bag, you can read more about it here.
Another quick tip: The large utility tote is my all time favorite bag by 31. I keep one in the back of my car and one in my pantry. The one in my pantry holds frequently used bags and totes for library trips, shopping, etc. The bottom shelf of our *lovely* wire shelving unit leaves quite a bit of space from the floor. To better utilize this space, I used clip rings (found in school supply section of most stores) to hook the large utility tote bag to the bottom of the wire shelf. The handy dandy holes by the handle are perfect for this! I am still able to easily get out the bags I need, and it uses the space under the shelf that otherwise would be unused. You can also use S hooks, or even tie the bag with string. I had the rings on hand already, so I used those. This particular tote was a wedding gift in 2010…. I have used it constantly since then for various things, and it is still in perfect shape and looks great!
What other hacks do you have for repurposing bags?
Thanks for reading!