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. Sarah In Illinois says:

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

  2. deborah345 says:

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

  3. Ellen says:

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

  4. Carole McGinnis says:

    Hillarious. I love hearing the chicks in the background.

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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?

  11. Kathy Hartzell says:

    back in ’79’ as a thrifty newliwed, I hought that it would be practical to make a grand ball o’ string from the salvaged string from such sewn up bags.

    It is now the size of a large double chocolate malted milk ball. Guess we have the same genetic predisposition to impatience with the chain stitch.

    Why then do the hems of boughten garments unravel so easily when you are heading off for a lovely day but never unravel when you struggle with the loops so you can re do the hem?? And you can’t take a giant scissor to the task!!

  12. Call Me Patty says:

    Yep, that’s my solution too, Karen. Yep.

  13. Stephanie says:

    I love you so much. Seriously. so much you should be glad I live so freakin far away. snort.

  14. ruth says:

    oh man. another Best.Post.Ever. hahahahahaha!

  15. Lynn says:

    Gosh, I have no problem OPENING the bag that is sewn with string…but I can’t figure out how to RESEW IT. Seed spills out on my sewing machine, it’s awkward & heavy, & my needles break. Sigh…;)

    Seriously awesome post Karen! I keep a big old industrial scissors in my shed for that EXACT purpose. Once again you’ve made my day. :)

  16. Kim says:

    Aww Karen, when I saw the title of your post I said to myself (or probably out loud) ”No way! Why didn’t I think to search for that answer on your blog a long time ago?”.
    All this time I thought there had to be an easier method to opening those bags, turns out I open them the same way you do. The right way!
    Great video. Every time I feed the birds I shall think of you!

  17. Auntiepatch says:

    LOL! Thanks –

  18. Hi Karen,
    As a life-long barn worker, I KNOW your pain BUT I’ve managed to almost figure it out. Thankfully, most feed manufactures now have a lovely little arrow pointing to a pre-cut corner and you just get out your fingernails and yank the string they point to. These companies are smart and should be given an award of some sort, as it means NO hassle, guaranteed.
    However if there is no time saving arrow, I take scissors or my handy pocket knife and facing the front of the bag cut the right side knotted end as close to the bag as possible. Then using the string of the first sewn “link,” yank the front string. Sometimes it needs yanking on the back side instead, or even both yaked at the same time but when that first link comes apart, it opens like magic. However, sometimes the magic isn’t at that end of the bag and since cutting the bag means having the frayed sections bags getting into the horse feed, I get stubborn and try the other end of the bag in the same manner and that one works.
    Of course success at this “barn art” usually, in the beginning at least, just means being intensely stubborn, and losing stupid amounts of time. But the investment is worth it when you can open these stupid things 98% of the time without hassles. Too bad barn work is the type of work that often has no witnesses to appreciate the hard won skills. :-)

    • Rhonda "SmartyPants" says:

      I am standing at attention in my living room saluting you and all the countless others for the grossly unacknowledged and, therefore, even more grossly unappreciated ‘barn art’ you do, day in and day out. the closest I got to any of that type of ‘art’ was when I visited my Granddad about 55 years ago and he taught me and my brother how to milk his two goats that he sheltered in a lean-to in the back yard. A far cry from the ‘barn art’ of your type, ‘Taken For Granite’, I’m sure – if I was wearing a hat, I’d take it off and place it over my heart in honor of your ‘barn art’.

  19. taria says:

    so my ask Karen question is how do you keep track of where the darned scissors are?

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