Reusable Produce Bags Tutorial
by Cynthia Frenette
I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that a lot of grocery stores are starting to remove plastic bags from their produce areas (and in general as shopping bags) which is a very good thing. Less plastic, less waste, I’m all for it.
But what do you do with things like brussel sprouts or nugget potatoes when you want to buy a bunch, you can’t just put them loose in your cart or basket?
You make your own reusable bags!
There are some out there already available, made of things like lightweight nylon or mesh, but trying to source that fabric, and in a cute colour or print, and a decent price, isn’t all that easy.
So I set about making my own!
For this method and project, you will need (other than the usual sewing supplies):
– One yard Organic Sweet Pea Gauze (MAKES 4 BAGS) available at Spoonflower
– 30″ lightweight string or ribbon drawstring for EACH bag, total 120″ for 4 bags
Spoonflower has an Organic Cotton Sweet Pea Gauze, which has a similar texture to a heavy cheesecloth. It has a visible woven texture in it, and it crinkles up super cute when you wash it.
I designed a veggie and produce print that I’ve used for this tute, you can find it here, wink! and a smaller version here and ordered one yard of the Sweet Pea Gauze.
Note: On the Spoonflower fabric info page it does mention that prints will be off grain, so it’s something to keep in mind if you choose a design with straight lines or elements.
Right away I washed the fabric, (well first I finished the edges as recommended because it tends to fray quite a lot) in my usual laundry in a cold wash, then threw it in the dryer, because I know they’ll get washed/dried a lot.
It shrank a bit, as expected.
Then I gave it a good iron to make it easier to cut.
After I washed/dried/ironed the fabric, I noticed it had skewed (for lack of a better word) and when I lined up the woven texture to get a straight grain, the edges were significantly off, and didn’t line up, like they might with a more tightly woven regular quilting cotton or similar. But, that’s expected so it’s ok!
First I squared it all up in order to cut my pieces for my bags.
After washing/drying, the one yard piece measured approximately 35″ long x 59″ wide.
Note that measurements were tricky since the grain was quite off so they may vary when you make some of your own but should be pretty close-ish!
I folded the fabric in half width-wise, aligning the woven texture line in the centre to get a straight grain cut, and pressed it along the fold to get a crease.
(I forgot to take photos so I drew out what I did for reference)
Then I cut along the pressed crease, giving me two pieces that were approximately 35″ x 28″ (there was a bit of extra off-grain/off-square waste on the sides when trying to align the grain in the centre, it just is how the fabric decided to behave, lol).
Then I took both of those pieces, and folded them in half again top to bottom so they were roughy 16″ high x 28″ wide, pressed, and cut along the pressed crease. (Again, a bit more waste on the edges when squaring up to grain but that is to be expected).
This gave me 4 pieces of fabric. I then took those pieces and trimmed them to 27″ x 14″, making sure to align the straight grain, using the woven texture in the fabric as guidelines.
Now you’re ready to sew!
Once the pieces are cut, serge around the edges of each piece to create a finished edge and prevent fraying.
If you don’t have a serger, a zigzag finish works well too.
With one 27″x14″ piece, fold piece in half vertically right sides together, and stitch both side seams with a 3/8″ seam allowance, leaving 1″ open/unstitched at the top edge of one side, backtacking at the end of the seam. This opening will be the opening for the casing for the drawstring closure.
Press seams open.
Fold over 1″ along top open edge of bag, and press.
Make the top edge casing:
Easy way: Stitch around entire top edge close to finished edge, backtacking where opening in side seam is for extra strength, forming a casing.
Fancy way: Fold under the finished edge, press, then edgestitch around entire top close to finished edge, backtacking where opening in side seam is for extra strength, forming a casing.
I did the easy method this time, but either works, it just depends on how fancy you want your bags to be!
Thread the string or ribbon through the casing with a big safety pin or bodkin, then tie a secure knot with both ends together.
Turn bag right sides out and you’re done!
Now go fill it with lots of veggie fruity goodness and give it a whirl!
One thing you might be asking is ok, good, nice reusable bag, but what happens when it’s full of sprouts and they must be weighed at checkout at the store?
Does the bag add additional weight which in turn will add cost to my produce?
I weighed one finished bag on my handy kitchen scale and it came to about 1.5oz. so I’m guessing it wouldn’t really add too much extra if anything.
Enjoy your new bags!
I’d love to see if you make some, please do share a pic on Instagram & tag me!
Thanks so much as always for supporting me and my work!