June 7, 2011

Seashell Collecting Bag

 Awhile back, I saw this shell collecting bag in a catalog and thought it was a really clever idea.  My kids love collecting seashells, but I never liked how gross their shells got by the end of the vacation. Take some wet, sandy shells, leave them in plastic buckets in the hot summer sun for a few days and you'll end up with a stinky mess that you don't want to transport home.   I decided I'd try my hand at making my own mesh seashell bags.  I was really pleased with the way they turned out and they worked just as I'd hoped ~ the perfect bag for collecting and no stinky, sandy buckets of wet shells to lug back home.

 The bags were actually quite simple to make (although I must admit, I'm kind of patting myself on the bag for figuring out how to put it together without any kind of pattern ;)  ).  My finished bag was about 9"x12" with a 30" shoulder strap.  

Here's how I did it ...  

(Don't be intimidated by all the steps, I just broke it down and tried to take tons of pictures!)


  • mesh fabric ( I found a utility mesh at JoAnn's that worked perfectly)
  • cotton fabric (1/2 yard is plenty)
  • sew on velcro
  • about 20" of 1/4" ribbon


1.  Cut your fabric and mesh.  From the cotton fabric, cut two 8x10" pieces and one 4x35" piece.  From the mesh, cut one 10x20" piece.

2.  On each of your 8x10" pieces, fold over about 1/2" on the longer sides and iron down. 

3.  Next, fold in half so the longer edges are touching and iron again, creating a crease in the center.

4.  Now you're going to attach the cotton fabric to the mesh.  Open up your fabric so the wrong side is facing up.  Place the mesh over the folded edge and pin in place.  Do the same thing on the other end of the mesh.

5.  Next, let's get the shoulder strap ready.  Take your long piece (4"x35") and fold it in half lengthwise.  Iron to create a center crease. 

6.  Open it up, then bring in both edges to meet at that center crease you made and iron in place.

7.  Finally, fold in half one more time and iron.  You'll have a long strip 4 layers thick and one inch wide with the raw edges completely enclosed.

8.  This is what you'll have so far ~ your folded and pressed shoulder strap and your 10x20" piece of mesh with the cotton fabric pinned on each short end.  Now, you're ready to start sewing!

9.  Using a zig zag stitch, sew the cotton fabric to the mesh.  Do the same at the other end.

10.  Now you'll want to fold over the cotton fabric, wrong sides together and pin in place. You'll see that the raw edges of the cotton fabric are now enclosed on the inside (thanks to those edges we'd folded over) and the mesh piece is secured in the middle.

11.  I wanted to make sure that mesh was securely attached, so I sewed a zig zag stitch and then top-stitched right along the edge.  Do this on both ends of your mesh piece.

12.  Next, we're going to sew up the sides.  Putting the right sides together, fold your bag in half, lining up the sides and top.  (NOTE:  There's not really a right side and a wrong side of the fabric showing, but one side will have two rows of zig zag stitching.  I made this the wrong side so it would be on the inside of the finished bag.)

13.  Because I wanted to make sure the mesh was securely sewn on the sides and I knew it would be tough with all those holes, I took two pieces of  1/4" ribbon scraps, cut them to the length of the mesh, and pinned it to the edges of the mesh.

14.  With the ribbon in place, sew up the sides.  I did a straight stitch first and then followed with a zig zag stitch on top of that.

15.  Now onto that shoulder strap.  Pin the open sides together ( the other side will be a fold)

16.  Now top stitch close to the edge down both sides.

17.  To attach the strap, pin the end of your strap across the seam on the inside of your bag.  Sew straight across that short end to attach the strap.  

18.  Then flip your strap up and stitch in place.  I did a rectangle and then an "X" to really make it sturdy.  Do the same on the other side.  ( NOTE:  You'll want to pin it in place and test it out before you sew to make sure your strap is laying properly and isn't twisted!)

19.  WooHoo, you're almost finished.  Cut a piece of hook and loop velcro (approx 2 1/2") and pin into place near the top center of the front and back of your bag.  Sew into place on both sides. 

That's it!  You're ready for the beach!!

Time to find some pretty shells!

She's selling seashells at:


  1. Love this! I definitely want to give this a try! Thanks!

  2. What a brilliant idea Laura. We"ll be vacationing at the sea in a bit more than a week. If I can fit it in between all the party prepartions I'd love to make some, too. Have a great day - maks :-)

  3. My kids are always collecting shells and I never want to bring them home :). I think they would all love this, thanks for sharing!!

  4. This is so neat! Madison collects so many shells. I will have to try this.

  5. What a fabulous little bag!!! I love that you can rinse the shells while still in the bag and let them drip dry!!! So clever! Now... I just need to have a trip to the beach planned to warrant making them.... stuck in Iowa, it doesn't happen as often as I like! This is great Laura!

  6. Super - Great tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing this great idea

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. So cute! We can also use vegetable mesh bags! I have saved lot them, good way to upcycle them!

  9. That's awesome! Hopefully I can get a cord for my hand me down machine and learn to sew in the next month! :)

  10. I love, love this idea and your bags. We'll be heading out to the beach soon and the kids love collecting shells. Thanks for the tutorial!

  11. So cute! Following from Sweet Peas & Bumblebees. I'm having a link party, too. Would love to have you stop by and link up. :)
    A giveaway is involved, too.


  12. This is such a great idea. I can remember as a kid putting my..well, what I thought were treasures in my shirt by pulling it out into a cup. This would of been a lot easier. And I could of picked up way more treasures. :) Thanks!

  13. We are going to Florida in August and I am so excited to make these for my 3 boys! Thank for sharing and linking up at DIY Thrifty Thursday!


  14. We are big time beach-goers and seashell collectors! This is a great idea:-)

  15. so cute! Love the shark fabric and the little mermaid on the pink lined bag! Great idea!

    I am having a giveaway on my blog. A personalized beach bag and hat set. check it out!

  16. I would love to see this again at my link party. It will be a weekly link up Friday through Sunday. Hope to see you there. You can find the button for it on my blog now if you like.

  17. Now THAT is an awesome idea! i can't sew worth a lick, but that's getting pinned to try anyways! thanks for sharing!! found you via tt&jello!

  18. I have twin 6 year old nephews and they would love one of these each, such a good idea and I can make each one in their favourite colour... just have to hunt down some mesh fabric

  19. This is genious and perfect for a beach lover like me.

  20. How cute! We usually make it to the Oregon coast once a summer, and these would be perfect :) Thanks for the easy instructions!

  21. Perfect! I had been thinking of making something like this for shell or rock collecting. Poof! You've done it already! :-) Thank you so much for sharing. Now, it's much more likely to get made in time for our beach trip next month! lol!

  22. What a great idea! I sure could have used that when I went on a boat tour in Florida a few weeks ago. Much more stylish than the plastic grocery bags they passed out. Adorable!

  23. I loved this idea. So I put it on my summer to do list.

    I made two bags using my scraps, all I did is buy the patches and mesh. I think the total project was less than $1.50 a bag. The kids adore them.

    I hope you don't mind if I put a picture of my bags up & link to this post of how to. Thanks for the clear instructions & clever idea.

  24. Just finished two!!!! Great instructions! Thanks so much for this, and so many other great ideas. The kids are going to love their bags at the beach next week!

  25. So cute! And this would also make a cute swimsuit bag...for wet suit and towel! :)

  26. Just made two of these for our beach trip next week. Thank you so much for the tutorial!!! I even used the same shark fabric without realizing it until I went back to look at the tutorial to begin sewing :o)

  27. Not only would this keep the sand out of my pockets, I'd also be able to dip them in the water for a last rinse without losing any. A shortcut for people that don't sew--use a sweater bag from your washing machine stuff. You could weave a shoestring through the top for a quick, emergency version, too. Your's is a whole lot cuter than that. Nice idea. Thank you!

  28. I just found your tutorial and have made a bag for my grandson. It's just what I was looking for. Your tutorial is easy to follow and full of great tips. Thanks so much

  29. thanks a lot for the great tutorial, just got back from vacation and my bags I made worked perfectly!!!

  30. Thanks a lot for the tutorial! My kids love their new bags. It was super easy to make and inexpensive (I bought mesh laundry bags at the dollar store). You can have a look, it's on my blog : https://monpetitkoala.com/2016/06/07/sac-aux-tresors/

  31. Excellent home-made product! I think this bag can be useful for everyone. I've been looking for something like this for a small beach chairs http://www.beachgiraffe.com/best-beach-chairs-reviews/. That they can be packed in a bag. It would be cool if you could share ideas.

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