DIY Tutorial: Sunglasses Case from a Recycled Paper Bag

Happy March! Anybody else have spring fever?! From my new electric orange nail polish to fluorescent yellow shirts and shopping for sunglasses, I can’t help myself. I’m ready to say sayonara to this Minnesota winter and HELLO to Minnesota lakes and beaches!

Since I’m horrible about making it through an entire year without breaking my sunglasses or scratching them to a point of becoming useless, I decided to make a sunglasses case that doesn’t look like something your uncle’s fit-over sunglasses came in.

What I love about this project is that it makes use of all those paper grocery bags I have lying around (hello, recycling!) AND will help make my sunglasses last longer so I don’t have to buy a new pair to replace them come mid-summer!

Handmade sunglasses case from recycled paper bags

Handmade sunglasses case from recycled paper bags

~What You’ll Need to Round Up~

  • scissors
  • cloth tape measure (or basic ruler will work fine)
  • iron
  • one large paper bag
  • hot glue gun
  • rubber cement (optional)
  • button of your choice (I used one set of snap buttons and one traditional button)
  • ribbon of your choice (about 30 inches and don’t pick anything too thick, you’re going to thread this through your fabric – I recommend no more than 1/2 inch thickness)
  • fabric of your choice (about 10 inches x 6 inches – more depending on the size of your sunglasses)
  • thread to match your fabric

~The How-To~

{ONE – create the case structure}

Cut one (front or back) panel from a large paper bag.

Then decide what size you want your case to be. Of my two pairs of sunglasses, I measured my larger pair to make sure the case would work for either no matter which pair I decide to rock. The frames of these particular sunglasses are 5-3/4 x 2 inches and since I recommend adding 1/2 to 1 inch to each dimension, I ended up cutting paper bag rectangles measuring 7 x 2-1/2 inches. You will need six of whatever dimensions you decide to go with.

+10 points if you can spot the next DIY tutorial in the reflection of my sunglasses!

+10 points if you can spot the next DIY tutorial in the reflection of my sunglasses!

Note: Don’t worry about any pictures, logos, etc. that may be on the bag, it’ll all be covered by your fabric and ribbon.

Say it with me: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle!

Say it with me: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle! 

Glue three of your paper bag rectangles together directly on top of one another. Separately, repeat with the last three. You should end up with two, three-piece rectangles which will individually form the front and back structures of your case. Still with me?

I used rubber cement but you can use your hot glue gun here instead if preferred

I used rubber cement but you can use your hot glue gun here instead if preferred

{TWO – prepare your fabric}

I went with a 3 inch fold for the “lid” of my case; normally you would cut and throw these manufactured edges of your fabric but since I really liked the way this fabric had a thick 3 inch white border and rough finished edges that won’t unravel, I decided to work with it. Including the 3 inch fold in my dimensions, I measured my 2 fabric rectangles to be 10 x 3-1/2 inches each.

my two 10 x 3-1/2 inch fabric pieces, prepping the edges for hemming

my two 10 x 3-1/2 inch fabric pieces, prepping the edges for hemming

Next with the backside of the fabric facing you, fold 1/4 inch of the edges in, ironing them as you go. Then sew around each rectangular piece of fabric individually (omitting the top – so you are sewing a U around your rectangle’s edges).

hemming the edges will keep your fabric from unraveling

hemming the edges will keep your fabric from unraveling

{THREE – time to assemble!} 

I first measured around my paper bag rectangles; using a pencil I placed a dot every 1 inch. I then followed those dots with my small sewing scissors to poke holes through the paper bags and fabric, making room for the ribbon to fit through.

Tip: A mechanical pencil or meat thermometer tip would also work well for poking these holes.

I pinned my paper bag rectangles to the fabric; hot glue would be a good alternative

I pinned my paper bag rectangles to the fabric; hot glue would be a good alternative

Note: Since ribbon is thick and would never fit through your basic sewing needle, you can easily create a threader for your ribbon. You will use this to pull the ribbon through the paper bags and fabric as you sew the entire case together. To do this, I cut a 5 inch piece of heavy nylon thread, then thread it through my needle and tied a knot in it at the end to create a loop.

my ribbon threader

my ribbon threader

Now just thread your ribbon through the nylon threader you just made and sew through the previously made holes in the paper bags and fabric!

I began from the inside of one panel then looped around to connect the second panel and continued down the side so I would start and finish at opposite sides of the case opening. I chose to start (and finish) on the inside of one panel to keep my ribbon ends hidden inside the case (we’re ultimately going to glue those two ribbon ends to the inside of the case so they stay hidden).

using my ribbon threader

using my ribbon threader

Once you have sewn around three sides of the case, trim each ribbon end down to about 3 inches long. I then used my hot glue gun to seal the excess ribbon to the inside of one panel. Do the same with one of the fabric panels (glue this fabric panel over the ribbon).

glue excess ribbon and one fabric panel to inside of one cardboard panel

glue excess ribbon and one fabric panel to inside of one cardboard panel

{FOUR – add your buttons!}

Tip: Use a pencil to determine where your buttons should be placed. Make sure you have your sunglasses in the case when you do this since the case will expand when filled and that may alter the placement of your button(s).

I chose these quick snap buttons for my case so accessing my sunglasses isn’t tedious, but I still wanted the cute look of a traditional button. So after sewing these snaps onto the case and flap…

…I used super glue to throw on this sparkly vintage pink button!

this button is the cherry to my ice cream sundae!

this button is the cherry to my ice cream sundae!

{FIVE – strap your sunglasses in and go find some rays!}

Spring Fever!

Spring Fever!

Anyone else already making plans for spring and summer?! Are you lucky enough to celebrate a spring break? 

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4 thoughts on “DIY Tutorial: Sunglasses Case from a Recycled Paper Bag

    • Yes I love my pin cushion, unfortunately Lila does too, I’ll turn around and see her booking down the hall and around the corner with my pin cushion in her mouth – so dangerous for her! That’s a great idea though, especially since I have so many fabric scraps!

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