How to Open a Potato Bag.
Or any bag that closes with string.

When someone sends me an Ask Karen question I answer it with the lightening speed of a sloth eating a brick of saltwater taffy.

So when Leslie sent me a message last winter about how to open a bag that’s sewn closed with string … I got to work.  I got to work cleaning the fridge, and brushing my cats, and making a house of cards out of Oreo cookies and avoiding any sort of organized exercise program.

I also taught myself to do origami out of homemade fruit leather.

After I’d exhausted all methods of avoidance, I set my mind to figuring out exactly how to open a bag that’s sewn closed with string at the top.  Because who hasn’t been completely frustrated staring down at a bag of potatoes KNOWING if you just pull the right string … it’ll open like magic.

So I dressed myself in a suit made of cabbage leaves, went to the grocery store, crouched down low, and practiced on all of their potato bags.  With my clever camouflage I remained inconspicuous for more than 3 minutes.

Then I got kicked out of the grocery store.

After months of research, vandalism and fridge cleaning … I figured it out.

This video is for you Leslie.  I would like to extend an early “You’re Welcome”.

~ karen


How to Open a Bag


How to open a bag that’s closed with string (like a potato sack). It’s easier than you think.

I cannot overstate this Leslie … you’re welcome.


  1. Gabrielle says:

    Can’t believe I came in from the garden for this. How can I learn to be patient when I have no role model? Oh screw it – to thine own nature, be true!

  2. Carey says:

    So funny! Scissors are the. best. tool ever invented. Period.

  3. Denna says:

    Just saw your project in the Lee Valley newsletter. nice :)

    • Karen says:

      Thx Denna! I had no idea it was out. I write an article for them every newsletter. I’m kind of their poster girl. You know. Like a centrefold. Who has a vast array of drill bits. ~ karen!

  4. Joy Dewhirst says:

    As someone who grew up on a ranch in California I have had a lot of experience with these bags for feed, seed, flour, rice, etc. Most of the time they work but when they do not you did the right thing and I am STILL laughing. Great job!

  5. Sandra says:

    So funny!

  6. Sara says:

    Love! Love! Love! Oh the hilarity!

  7. Gayla T says:

    In my need for 20 hours of sleep a day, I have missed many posts. However, I really need this information so I can at least say at the Golden Gate that I was finally able to open these bags and died in peace. NOT! Now, I have to go on living until I learn this lost art. Thanks a lot! I do plan to ask God when first I see him why these first two fingers could not have been designed to work like a scissor so I don’t have to do a search for it every time I want something opened. I’d hate to add up the lost time I’ve spent jerking strings and then looking for a sharp object. Now, back to bed.

  8. ev says:

    HEE HEE HEE HEE HEEE HEE! I so needed a belly laugh! Thank you Karen. And yes, that is indeed how it is done! Hee hee hee…..

  9. Debbie B says:

    perfect video, laughed so hard my eyes are soggy

  10. jodie says:

    Hilarious! You’re stinkin’ hilarious!

  11. sera says:

    hahahahahaha! I get the similar string closure on my cat food and always think “get the scissors” but because I have been faced with this challenge that I feel I need to overcome, I end up trying to get it open from the wrong side, then trying the right side, then not getting it open and finding out that the first side I tried is indeed the right one, and then halfway, I still need the scissors. Thanks Karen!

  12. caryl says:

    I use the same technique–now ASK KAREN. How come your seed doesn’t pour out all over the place?

  13. Jeanne says:

    Yep, that is exactly how it works!!! Especially when you have bags for horses, dogs, cats, chickens and anything else that eats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Was the iPhone Hoo Hoo Hammock/Jock used in the making of this post? An inquiring mind wants to know?

    • Karen says:

      Julia – It was not! I used a makeshift boob strap. I’m going to have to invent something more appropriate that doesn’t rely so much on my lady parts. ~ karen

  15. Gloria says:

    I love you! lol I haven’t laughed this much since the video of your hiccupping (sorry, but it was funny) Thanks! I needed to laugh today.

  16. Leslie says:

    Too funny!! What I really want to know is how to open a bag of potato chips without eating the whole bag? Love to see that video…

  17. Linda says:

    THAT….was a giant “Karen Pill”….HAHAHAHAHAHA

  18. Tricia says:

    Fabulous! Glad to see that others revert to vulgarity as a means of enticing the package to open. It doesn’t typically work for me either but a girl’s gotta try.

  19. Sharon says:

    Well it’s clear to me that you love to open things in October! it was October last year that you showed us all “How to Properly Open a Package of Spaghetti”

  20. Sarah In Illinois says:

    HAHAHAHHA! About 10 seconds before you did, I was thinking, “Geez, why doesn’t she just grab some scissors?!” HAHAHHAAHA!

  21. deborah345 says:

    ROFLOL……Thanks for the days giggles…. Yep,forget trying to unravel the thing and use scissors

  22. Ellen says:

    this is EXACTLY how I open such bags,,,,bad words & ALL

  23. Carole McGinnis says:

    Hillarious. I love hearing the chicks in the background.

  24. Marion says:

    baha, that was hilarious! I was waiting for the bag to rip open and feed go flying everywhere…that’s usually what happens to me!

  25. Shauna says:

    ARGH, I hate being blocked from videos at work. I so need to know the answer to this. When I finally have time to get on my computer at home – maybe next month, I will definitely watch this video & learn something I’ve always wanted, neh, needed to know. Because those bags of chicken feed get me every time!

  26. Jeannie B. says:

    Every time I go to open a new bag of potatoes, I think to myself, how did I do it the last time? And I can never remember. I always try to get the string to zip across. I can never remember whether I should start from the left or the right, the front or the back. But I work at it, snipping away at a few stitches.until it works. Then I completely forget how I did it. But when it does unravel, I feel supremely satisfied, then I put the string in the junk drawer and completely forget how I did it. I’m going to video my next bag of potatoes being opened for future reference. Funny how such a little thing frustrates us all. Much easier to just open a bag of dill pickle potato chips.

  27. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    OK Karen..You got me on this one..I thought you were seriously going to teach us the proper way to do this..As my fella said “you should have known better”..The neighbors probably heard me laughing this time..Also I love hearing your accent..

    • Karen says:

      Nancy – I really *was* going to show you how to do it. It’s worked every time since I “figured it out”. This time … it did not, LOL. Apparently opening a string closed bag is not a science. ~ karen!

  28. Barbie says:

    Thanks for the GREAT HOWL you brought to my house this morning! I’am “still” howling!
    The first thing I thought when you showed the bag was “Just use scissors” ha ha ha ha ha!
    This is probably my all time favorite video that you have done! LOVE IT!

  29. Marie says:

    Ha! I’m sure Leslie will find this to be worth the wait. We need to see a “behind the scenes” for this one. How did you hold the camera?

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The Art of Doing Stuff