Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day! Reusable fabric shopping bag tutorial

In honor of Earth Day, I thought I'd share a tutorial on how to make a reusable shopping bag.  I've been making these for years (my own pattern).  I think they're great, because they can be stuffed inside of my purse, and also can be easily washed when they get dirty.  Of course using these helps reduce the amount of shopping bags that get made (and thrown away).  Very green!

I cut a piece of fabric 15 inches by 36 inches for the bag part, and 2 strips 2 1/2 inches by 24 inches for the straps.  I've learned that it helps to cut the straps "across grain", or crosswise, so that when they get washed they don't get as wrinkled.  Of course you can always use webbing from the fabric store for the handles too.

I fold the handles lengthwise, wrong sides together, and sew a seam.  I have a serger, and love it, so I used that, but you can do this on a regular machine too.  I like to finish the top edge of the bag with my serger, but you can do a zig zag, or just turn under a 1/4 inch and top stitch as well.

I then turn the tube right side out, and edged stitch along both edges.  I hate to iron, so I keep a little bowl of water next to my machine, dip my fingers in it, and kind of pinch/twist the seam to the edge right before I sew.

Then I pin these straps to the upper edge, 1 inch down at 4.5 inches, 13.5 inches, 22.5 inches, and 31.5 inches.  I tape masking tape to the top of my cutting board to help with the placement.

Then I turn down the top an inch, flip up the strap over it, and pin.

Top stitch twice along the top to catch the straps and finish.
They I fold the bag in half, right side together and sew the side seam.

All that's left to do is to make a "gusset" on the bottom by folding the (folded) sides in 3 inches on each side.  You just flip them over..  so you have 4 layers of fabric.

I sew the bottom seam, flip it right side out, and it's ready to go!  Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Oh wow, I've never done the gusset cool! Thank you for the tutorial!

Kathy said...

Thanks, Becky. I've been waiting for a simple bag pattern. It's about time I've done one and your tutorial is perfect timing.

Beth said...

Good Job Becky!!!

another fabric to use... if you want them to be even smaller when empty is the Rip Stop Nylon... but better make sure you have had a good nights sleep before trying to wrestle with it... it misbehaves, slips, slides and ravels...

Marlene @ KISSed Quilts . com said...

my mom had that little black wish I could find those, I'd love to have one!