Frugal Friday: $1.85 Wet Bag (For Swimming or Diapers)

With Earth Day just past, and the “summer swimming season” on its way, I’ve been seeing an abundance of advertisements for “Wet Bags.” These are waterproof bags perfect for toting dirty diapers back home, or for stowing wet clothing after a day at the beach/pool. (Much nicer and more eco-conscious than a soggy plastic grocery bag that gets thrown away at the end of the day!) However, these bags tend to come with a significant price tag (usually around $10-$20, depending on the size/materials).

I decided to make a wet bag myself, in preparation for beach trips this summer, as well as the upcoming arrival of the new baby. (Gen is using the potty now, so we don’t usually need to worry about accommodating dirty diapers on a regular basis anymore.)

I went ahead and made a “large” size (about 11″ x 17″), in case of a long day trip or perhaps stashing a wet towel. This is also a good size if you have two little ones in diapers. (Even if you’re using disposables, it’s nice to have a reusable bag for those “explosions/accidents” that happen, when you need to do a clothing change while away from home.) Click on the pictures to view them in a larger screen.

I went to a local fabric store, armed with a coupon and the sales ad, ready to get started on my project. I was thrilled to find a rack of cute quilter’s cotton fabrics on sale for 50% off of the clearance price, plus I had a coupon for 50% off a cut of home decor fabric. (I already had a stash of uniquely-colored zippers from the thrift store, purchased for 10 cents each.)

After looking at my options in the limited selection of this small store, I decided to sew two bags (one for us, and one for a friend) based on this Wet Bag Pattern. I purchased one yard of 8-gauge clear vinyl (sold off of a large home decor “spool”), and a yard of cute clearance fabric.

I used about 1/2 yard of each of the fabrics per bag. I cut two strips of the vinyl, and one strip of the cotton per bag.  (The vinyl fabric is sold in a width about twice as wide as the cotton, so this equation works out.) Cut each piece about twice as long as you want your final bag measurement to be (they will be folded in half), and allow for seam allowances. 

The vinyl strips provide a waterproof lining for the inside of the bag, as well as a covering for the outside. The cotton just makes it cute, so choose your favorite! :)

Note: The vinyl is sold with a backing of “tissue paper” which is incredibly helpful, if you don’t have a teflon sewing machine foot. (The regular metal sewing machine foot sticks to the vinyl, making it difficult to move along the fabric.) Keep this tissue on the back of the vinyl while you are cutting and sewing. Then just tear off the paper when you are finished.

Sew the vinyl to each side of the cotton fabric, and follow the bag sewing/assembly directions. I like to attach a small hanging loop/handle to the top, too, with some sturdy wide grosgrain ribbon I got off of Freecycle.

Note: With the thick layers of vinyl, it seemed too thick for a typical double-fold hem at the top, so I just folded it over and sewed a zig-zag stitch before attaching the zipper.

A zipper foot on the sewing machine is quite helpful for attaching the zipper! (I forgot to pull mine out with the first bag I made, and couldn’t figure out why I was having so much trouble!) :) After some sleep, I woke up with this realization, and the second bag went together much more smoothly!

Washing Instructions: Do NOT machine wash/dry this vinyl bag. Just wipe clean with a damp cloth, and a spray of disinfectant (such as Biokleen), if desired. Towel or line dry. (One benefit of this bag, is that you don’t have to wait for it to come out of the wash!) Remember, it IS made of vinyl, so I wouldn’t suggest using this bag for food or anything; but for dirty laundry, it seems fine.

Each bag cost me a total of only $1.85, and took only about one hour to make (along with parenting a toddler at the same time). For more Frugal Friday ideas, visit Life As Mom. (Wow- I finally got around to sharing one of my sewing projects with you! :) More to come later!)

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13 comments to Frugal Friday: $1.85 Wet Bag (For Swimming or Diapers)

  • brite

    Thanks for the idea and the instructions! I've done cloth diapers for four years solid (three kids) but I usually "cheat" and use disposables for church and outings that I know will last more than a few hours. I just decided to be a little more committed to using cloth full time, and the grocery sacks were not cutting it. Thanks again!


  • […] used some cotton quilting fabrics leftover from making baby supplies last year. (Remember the $1.85 Wet Bag? We still use it for diapers & swimming!) I chose coordinating prints with orange hues, since I […]

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