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Dog Bag Evolution

I’d had the idea for the dog poo bag holder a while back: something small that I could make using scraps from other projects (one of my favourite things to do to reduce waste). I could see a lot of benefits from using tubes:

  • It would be flexible and resilient – you could accidentally sit or step on it and it wouldn’t crack like firm plastic holders
  • Inner tube doesn’t absorb water – it wouldn’t mind the rain showers you encounter walking your dog
  • Each one would be unique and feature the character from its previous life (true of all my products 😁)

You would think something like a dog poo bag holder would be relatively simple to construct. But using reclaimed materials can sometimes throw a spanner in the works.

I wanted something I was completely happy with. In the end it took 8 versions to get that.

As part of March Meet the Maker, I thought I’d share more detail on each version and why my design needed to evolve.

Version 1

The very first version was the simplest, and I was a bit gutted it didn’t work.

It used some small scraps of inner tubes left over from baskets, which were left as tubes during the washing process. I left a little tail on each side, so I could fold them over and either use a rivet or a popper to close the ends. You’d insert the roll through the popper end.

I loved it because it was just one piece of material, and relatively simple to put together.

The big issue was that it was too small – only smaller, or partly-used rolls of dog bags could fit inside. While there are wider tubes out there, I rarely use them for baskets. They get cut open for sewing things like wallets, I wouldn’t have scraps to use for this.

Version 2

Version 2 was made up of three pieces of inner tube, though I tried to replicate the design from before.

I rolled up a longer piece to make a larger space, then attached separate tabs on each end to secure the ends.

As this was three pieces of material, it wasn’t as sleek as version 1, and the ends would skew a little left and right. I was worried the roll might fall out, so I needed to make it more stable.

Version 3

This became a little simpler – just two pieces of inner tube. Using a longer strip helped secure the grommet where the bags would come out, and meant the tabs going over the ends were less likely to skew out of place.

Another problem reared its head (though TBH it was an issue with the first two, too): inner tube is grippy!

This is an issue that I face throughout my business – it’s the main reason I knackered the first sewing machine I used. Inner tube gripped the feed dogs, the needle, the foot – everything.

While I can use it to good effect on my wallets and cable tidies – helping to keep their contents in place – on the dog poo bag holder, it meant that the roll of bags didn’t pull easily. It gripped the sides and you had to hold it just so before they’d come out easily.

Not ideal.

Version 4

I needed something to break up the grippiness of the inner tubes. I didn’t want to fully line it as it would be a pain and I thought having some of the grippiness would help stop loads of bags from coming out on a single pull.

Then I remembered some webbing I had, and replaced the narrower piece of inner tube with that, except on the inside of the holder to break up the inner tube material.

Dodgy end aside it was an easier pull, but it didn’t look pretty when pulling a bag out.

I wasn’t happy with the look, so I tried tweaking it.

Version 5

I sewed a bit on the D-ring side of the webbing.

But the problem persisted. Definitely better than before but not what I wanted.

It wasn’t as bad as Version 4, it just wasn’t a good pull.

Version 6

I realised I needed the D-ring on the opposite side of the holder from the rivet where the bags came out, so I tweaked the design.

I went back to a strip of inner tube around the outside to secure the ends, and this time the webbing ran along the length of the rolled up length of tube and came out the seam for the D-ring. While this was much better, the holder still didn’t look quite right when you pulled a bag out.

Version 7

This was a simple fix though, just folding that tab over made it look a lot neater.

The pull was a lot better, too.

I very proudly showed this to my husband, who pointed out another issue that had been lurking in the background the entire time: it was a little tricky to put a new roll in.

You could load the bag in easily enough, but pulling it out through the rivet required an extra tool like a pen/pencil or key.

Due to the grippy nature of the inner tube (even broken up by the webbing strip inside), if you unrolled a bit to feed through the hole before loading in the rest of the roll, the first pull was INCREDIBLY difficult.

Version 8

A big design shift was necessary. I had another seam where I fixed together the wider rolled up bit of tube that made up the body of the holder – what if I made the opening there?

Ta da!

I’m a little annoyed with myself that it took me so long to address a fundamental requirement with the design (loading the bags), but I was distracted by other things.

I got there in the end. The real proof is in the pull.

And it’s great!

It’s much easier to load with the wide mouth, too.

Conclusion

While sometimes new products work really well from the start, it’s the nature of things that sometimes they don’t. I take a lot of care in what I do and need to make sure I’m happy with a product before it goes out there into the world.

I’m chuffed to bits with these dog bags and hope you like them, too. They’re available in my shop now.

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