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How to Make a Bra-Laundering Bag From an Old Pillowcase

Updated on April 10, 2016

If you’ve bought a bra bag in Australia lately, you’ll know that it is of a very bad quality. The seams unravel, the fabric pills and gets destroyed quickly in the washing machine and the zip falls off or stops working. Why pay $15 for a bra bag when you can make your own, save money and have a longer lasting product? This hub is about how to make a bra bag from an old pillowcase – durable, tough and able to handle washing for years on end!

This is a very simple and easy craft tutorial for beginners or people new to using a sewing machine. Experienced crafters can do this project in about 10 minutes.

The finished bra bag - practical, durable, upcycled and very easy to make!
The finished bra bag - practical, durable, upcycled and very easy to make! | Source

Materials Needed

  • Pillowcase
  • Matching Cotton Thread
  • Cord/Ribbon/String/Plaited Wool
  • Sewing Machine
  • Safety Pin
  • Scissors
  • Iron

Why Use A Bra Bag?

Bras can cost a lot of money. So do delicate fabrics, anything with lace, pretty nightdresses, light blouses, fancy underwear and so on. Bra bags (otherwise known as delicates wash bags or linen bags) can prolong the life of your delicate clothing for many years – I’ve found that using one can make your bras last twice as long! If you want durability out of your clothes, this is a great way to make them last and since it uses upcycled pillowcases, it’s great for the environment too.

When you wash with a bra bag, what you do is put the bras together in the bag, seal it and place them in the washing machine to wash them. Bra bags avoid all the tangling up and automatic removal of underwires. Your washing machine will have less problems if underwires can't escape into the drum. They're great for lacy and delicate clothes too – they reduce pilling and allow you to wash them in a more gentle fashion, so that clothing doesn’t get destroyed unnecessarily. Don't put bras in the same bag as delicate fabrics, wash the two types separately - or even make two bags!

Step 1: Choose (And Iron) Your Pillowcase

You’re going to be using this bag for years to come, so pick a nice pillowcase with a pretty printed pattern that makes you think “bra bag” with an uplifting feeling. You can always visit a local op shop and buy a cheap pillowcase if you don’t have one around the house. If it is very wrinkled or crumpled, iron it, so that you can work with it (one of the pleasures of sewing is working with a freshly ironed product so that it keeps your motivation up).

Here's my pretty pillowcase to upcycle. It was all crumpled and needed an iron.
Here's my pretty pillowcase to upcycle. It was all crumpled and needed an iron. | Source

Step 2: Choose A Thread Colour

Add a coloured cotton thread that matches your pillowcase to your sewing machine by filling the bobbin and threading the spool. In this case I used pink, but I could have used white or turquoise, or any other complimentary colour.

The light pink thread I added to my sewing machine for this project.
The light pink thread I added to my sewing machine for this project. | Source

Step 3: Assess For Additional Stitching

Turn your pillowcase inside out and look at the stitching on the edges. Sometimes, if there's only a single running stitch or if the hemming is falling apart, you'll need to restitch it to have a strong hem. If so, sew a running stitch inner and a zigzag or overlock stitch on the outer bit. This will strengthen the bag significantly.

Luckily, my pillowcase had strong stitching already in place, but if yours doesn't, sew a running stitch and an overlocking stitch on all raw edges.
Luckily, my pillowcase had strong stitching already in place, but if yours doesn't, sew a running stitch and an overlocking stitch on all raw edges. | Source

Step 4: Pin The Drawstring Hem

While your pillowcase is inside out, make sure the top is folded as it normally is for a pillowcase. Then using a set of pins, turn over a hem around the top of the pillowcase about two inches down and pin it into place.

Make sure you pin the hem around the whole pillowcase opening, not just on one side. On one side, you'll have the folded pocket bit that is usually on a pillowcase, and on the other side will be a plain hem with one layer of fabric.
Make sure you pin the hem around the whole pillowcase opening, not just on one side. On one side, you'll have the folded pocket bit that is usually on a pillowcase, and on the other side will be a plain hem with one layer of fabric. | Source

Step 5: Pin The Opening

Next, allow a space (away from the side) where the drawstring will go in. Pin it vertically so you can see where to start and stop sewing.

The vertical pins indicate where to start and stop sewing, leaving an opening where the drawstring will go.
The vertical pins indicate where to start and stop sewing, leaving an opening where the drawstring will go. | Source

Step 6: Sew The Drawstring Hem

The opening will be located between the first and second vertical pins. Remove pins as you sew - do not sew over pins or this will break the sewing machine needle.

Start at the second vertical pin. Set your sewing machine to a medium size running stitch and position the fabric so you are sewing about 2cm in from the edge of the hem. Sew forward and reverse a few times on the spot, before completing one cycle of the entire hem around the top of the pillowcase. When you get to the first vertical pin, sew back and forward a few times on that spot, leaving an opening between where the first and second vertical pins were. Cut the loose tail threads.

Repeat the running stitch for another cycle, this time much closer edge of the hem. Don't forget to run the sewing machine forward and reverse a few times on the spots near the opening as you did for the first round.

An example showing the forward/reverse stitching near the opening (where the vertical pins were).
An example showing the forward/reverse stitching near the opening (where the vertical pins were). | Source

Step 7: Iron The Drawstring Hem (Optional)

Since the iron might be set up from Step 1, feel free to iron the new hem at the top of the pillowcase if you want to (turn it the right way out first). I find it is helpful to have it ironed for when you want to add the string.

Ironing the drawstring hem.
Ironing the drawstring hem. | Source

Step 8: Threading The Drawstring

Attach your piece of cord or string to a safety pin. Then put the safety pin into the opening in your drawstring hem and using your fingers, work the pin around the pillowcase until you come back to the beginning again. Pull the safety pin out and unpin it from the cord.

Note: Don't forget to hang onto the end of the cord as you work your way through the drawstring hem!

The safety pin (with cord attached) going into the opening of the drawstring hem.
The safety pin (with cord attached) going into the opening of the drawstring hem. | Source
Working the safety pin around the hem with fingers.
Working the safety pin around the hem with fingers. | Source

Step 9: Tie A Knot

When you've got both ends of the cord, tie a knot to hold them permanently together. If you like, you can stop unravelling of the ends of the cord by either sewing them with a small running stitch or applying clear nail varnish to the ends.

Knotting the drawstring.
Knotting the drawstring. | Source

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Congratulations

You should now have a finished bra bag, ready for the washing machine. Simply tie a bow with the cord when you want to seal the bag. Why not make a few bags for around the house?

You can also use them for washing lingerie, teddy bears, fancy underwear, nightdresses, boxer shorts and many other things that require protection.

The finished bra bag, with washing in it.
The finished bra bag, with washing in it. | Source

© 2015 Suzanne Day

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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 23 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Surprise Suzanne, that a guy is the first to comment on this hub...most Northern Hemisphere people must be asleep. I hadn't read a new hub by you in awhile so thought I'd give it a read. Anyway this is very simple to make a what a good idea..beside I like bras and lingerie so anything that keeps them nice is a great idea :) As you say it can be used for boxer shorts and the like as well.

    • Suzanne Day profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Day 23 months ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Haha @Jodah, of course, a homemade bra bag like this one will definitely keep your lady's lingerie in top notch condition!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

      A bra bag???? I have never heard of them. How strange that the first two to comment are men. LOL Well, good job of explaining the steps. I love John's comment, by the way...he likes bras and lingerie. :)

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 23 months ago

      Good idea. I've never put my bras in a bag, but I make sure that they are fastened so the hooks won't catch on anything. I think it would make a nice bag to keep heavier socks together, too. Sometimes I put the socks into a pillowcase and tie the top in a knot. This is a better idea.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 23 months ago from Norfolk

      Nice useful and easy project and I am so admiring of those sewing techniques, especially like the plaited drawstring.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 23 months ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      What a great DIY project! It's so rewarding to make something functional and long lasting for yourself. Thanks for the detailed tutorial.

    • Suzanne Day profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Day 23 months ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      @Billybuc, yes it looks like the men are gravitating to the word "bra" on this one! Mental note to self - will have to write more about bras...

      @MizBejabbers - these bags can be good for socks, especially if you find they get all twisted up with other clothes in the wash.

      Thanks @Sallybea!

      Thanks @randomcreative, the whole purpose of making these linen bags is so we don't have to keep buying them. I get a bit tired of constantly forking out money for products with no quality.....kid's school shoes, these bags, bedsheets etc. Capitalism wants to deliver something to us at the right price, the quality just gets worse and worse as people race to the bottom on price. It's time we all saved our hard earned money for the finer things in life ;)

    • Joy56 profile image

      Joy56 23 months ago

      Never seen or heard of a bra bag.... Love your hub, jealous of your score... Hugs from Ireland

    • gurbani profile image

      gurbani 23 months ago

      It's a easy and useful information for keeping bra's and lingerie safe. And also help to save money

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 23 months ago from Florida

      Great Hub, with great photos, too! I have a mesh bag I use for bras, but the hooks get caught in the bag. This bag would be so much better.

      Voted UP, and shared. Also Pinned to my crafts board.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      why do you need to put bra in a bag? Here we just dump in bra and underwear into the washing machine with our clothes.

    • Jacobb9205 profile image

      Jacob Barnard 23 months ago from Gloucestershire

      Wow great way to save money! Very useful for women!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 23 months ago from Germany

      Wow! Why did I not come up to this idea of bra bag. I bought a bra bag made of nets cloth in a shop and it is almost ruin. Thanks for sharing this DIY craft. Voted up and useful.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 23 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Never even thought of having one of these, although I use a net bag for washing dusters but that bag came with them. Must have a think about this. I would have to do it by hand, as I don't have a sewing machine.

    • Suzanne Day profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Day 23 months ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      If you do that, underwires can escape and cause problems to the washing machine by getting into the drum. Then you need a washing repairman to come out and fix it. Also, bras last for many more years if they don't get tangled up with the rest of the washing. I have used a bra bag for 15 years now and it means you buy less bras and save money, because you make the ones you have last longer.

      Bra bags are really good with lacy items too and those expensive sheer blouses. Without using a bra bag, the lace eventually pills and shreds and the sheer blouses get holes in them.

    • Suzanne Day profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Day 23 months ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Hi @DreamerMeg, if you do it by hand, the idea is to make sure it is very durable, so using tough stitches with a good thread is key to making them last a long time. You could always fold raw edges under and hem those by hand so they don't fray instead of "overlocking".

    • Purplepassion1 profile image

      Joanne Lombardo 23 months ago from Sherrills Ford NC

      This is a good sample of a well done well written nice pictures easy-to-follow instructions I love it I love working with pillowcases and miss just gave me a new idea for the stack of them I have sitting in front of me now delightful read thank you.

    • MonkeyShine75 profile image

      Mara Alexander 23 months ago from Los Angeles, California

      This is great a great idea . I've never used one before, but I will now

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 23 months ago

      What a great project and simple too. This is great for all of those delicate things that always get tangled with other things in the wash! Nice hub Suzanne.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 23 months ago from the short journey

      Nicely done and an easy to follow tutorial. I'm using these bags for wool socks and more. They are so handy for keeping socks together in the wash and for protecting items in the washer, especially with the rough treatment the HE machines give them.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 20 months ago from sunny Florida

      The instructions are so clear. Which I need. I read the one about zippered bag and do not think I am ready for that yet. I am just learning to use my machine and to sew.

      Thanks for sharing Angels are on the way to you Voted up++++

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 17 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      No wonder my bras kept getting loose and out of shape but what about the black spots on the inside bras?

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 17 months ago from London, UK

      Very creative and lovely. Thanks for the step by step illustration with photos.

    • Suzanne Day profile image
      Author

      Suzanne Day 17 months ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Not sure what you mean by black spots?

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 16 months ago from Minnesota

      Suzanne, this is a very well done tutorial. I really should make a laundry bag for dedicates. You might have inspired me to break out the sewing machine.

    • breathing profile image

      Sajib 10 months ago from Bangladesh

      I really didn’t have an idea that old pillowcase can be that much worthy!!! What a creative idea of using the old pillowcase!! A linen bag is always handy and we need it on different important occasions. There are many times when we think ah! If there had been a linen bag around. With this hub you can give a try to remove that disappointment of yours. The steps are briefly discussed and you need not to purchase many things to get yourself involved into the procedure. Also the author has mentioned some fine uses of this bra bag. This will motivate you more to go all the way.

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