In Progress: Upcycled Bark Park Bag

Bark Park Bag
One of the projects I worked on in September for National Sewing Month was a Bark Park bag made from recycled tote bags.

There are a few charitable organizations that insist on sending us "gifts" in exchange for donations - I really don't want them and tried returning them, but the Post Office won't send them back. So I decided to re-purpose them to make something I can actually use - a bag large enough to carry everything I need to take two pestie Westies for a long walk or a trip to the Bark Park.

I've been planning this project on and off for about a year now, and sketched and rejected more than a few versions of a bag, because I couldn't figure out how to incorporate all the pockets and options I wanted and keep it down to a manageable size. Then one Sunday morning while attending mass, I noticed the handbag of the woman seated in front of me and realized THAT was the design I've been looking for all along. You could call it Divine Inspiration. I spent the next few minutes staring at her purse, trying to take mental notes on how to construct it without being too obvious.

Bark Park Bag
As soon as we were home, I sketched out the new design and spent the rest of the day in my sewing room, planning and gathering supplies. I'll admit, I was a bit giddy at finally getting this puppy underway (silly pun intended!).

First, I needed to take the old tote bags apart and harvest as many usable pieces as possible. I started with 3 tote bags, which yielded 3 zippers, 6 nylon straps, several pieces of velcro, the nylon covers and linings of each tote.  One of them actually had a picture of a Westie on it, so that was saved for one side of the new bag.

I prepared two of the zippers by making tabs for each end before using them to create two pocket sections.
Bark Park Bag

Bark Park Bag
<-- this pic is a little dark, but you can sort of see how the bag is constructed from two pockets joined together to form a 'bucket' in the center. Each pocket has in inner lining and outer cover - one side of the outer cover meets inside to form the interior of the bag.

This layout gives me secure zippered pockets for carrying necessities like pick-up bags, puppy wipes, hand wipes for me as well as my wallet, cell phone and keys. The inside of the bucket will accommodate a portable water bowl, a tall water bottle, doggie treats and leashes for two dogs.

Bark Park Bag
This pic attempts to show the outer cover of the back pocket. I used the 3rd zipper to add another layered pocket on this side. ------>
Bark Park Bag
This pic shows the other side of the outer cover. --->

There were a few rips in this bag cover that I 'repaired' using duct tape on the inside. The tape was covered and enclosed by the pocket lining, so it's nearly invisible.

And that's as far as I managed to get before needing a break. The side seams where the two zipper pockets meet are a little bulgy and sloppy-looking, even though I trimmed carefully. The plan is to add nylon webbing and D-rings on either side to cover the seams, then create an adjustable shoulder strap with swivel hooks. I was going to re-use the nylon web handles from the original tote bags, but then I found some 1-1/2" wide webbing that does a better job of covering up the seams.

Bark Park Bag

One of the zipper pulls fell off while I was turning the bag right side out. I'm going to try to replace it with the zipper pull from the outer zip pocket, which will get a recycled charm for a zipper pull.

This is so close to being finished,  I'm determined to get it done before the weather gets too cold for the Bark Park.


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