Friday, 16 September 2016

Reusable Fabric Grocery Bag

Reusable shopping bags are definitely the way to go - much better than plastic bags for a number of reasons. I'm on the lookout for the perfect grocery shopping bag and so I tried a new to me pattern.



Even though I have several designs for shopping bags swimming around in my head, I went with a purchased pattern instead. Sometimes I just want all the measurements worked out for me.

Over at S.O.T.A.K Handmade, I saw some grocery bags that appealed to me, and so I bought the pattern - Michelle's Patterns PDF Grocery Bag Pattern (affiliate link)


The finished bag is similar to the plastic bags found in many stores. It's not meant to stand up by itself, until filled with groceries. Instructions are provided for three sizes. I made the largest bag, ending up at 14" x 14" x 6".

Following the directions, and hand sewing a small section, will result in a reversible bag, but I sped up the process. Consequently, one seam of my lining is not quite neat enough to be on the outside. It probably wouldn't matter, as it's on the bottom, but realistically, I'm happy without reversing the bag.


The large bag which I made, is a good size for fitting into the area provided at the self serve checkout. It seems to be a similar size to the plastic bags provided. Prior to making this bag, I have have been using nylon bags which fold up into a small pouch, for my grocery shopping. I doubt that I'll ever find a bag that folds as small as the SAKitToMe bags and I'll continue to keep a couple in my handbag. However the SAKitToMe bags are not easy to handle when filling with groceries.

To make it easier to pack groceries, I've added a small loop, which can be hooked over the contraption that holds the standard plastic bags. 


It's simply a 3" piece of bias folded in half, and added at the same stage as the handles.


Pattern pieces are provided for the handles only, and measurements for the bag itself. All measurements are given as both metric and imperial.

I added sew in, woven interfacing for the handles, but as intended in the pattern, none for the rest of the bag. Lines of wavy stitching provide a little more structure to the handles.

The handles are a good length when used as grocery bags, where they go straight from the trolley to the car and there's not much carrying involved. When I need to carry a tote for any length of time, I think I'd prefer longer handles.


The corners of the bag are made the same as those of many plastic bags. I've never thought to use this construction before, but it is SO easy to sew - much quicker than a boxed corner.

I did wonder if the corners would be as good as traditional boxed corners, as they are definitely not as defined. For the purpose of holding groceries, however, the plastic bag style corners worked well.

Reusable Fabric Grocery Bag sewn with a pattern by Michelle's Patterns. Review by Threading My Way

The pattern suggests reinforcing all seams with a double row of stitching. I also used the triple stitch on my machine for extra strength. Libby's Lifestyle has a tutorial for a shopping tote which uses the triple stitch and I thought this was a great idea. 

The instructions in the pattern are detailed and easy to follow. I'll be honest and say, I only skimmed the directions, as the construction is very simple. HA!!! I sewed the handles on incorrectly and had to unpick ALL the reinforced stitching that was NEVER meant to come undone.

I've sewn a second grocery bag and am going to make a few more. Although they don't fold up as small as my nylon bags, they are compact and fold flat. If I keep them in the car, they'll be on hand when I need them.

Reusable Fabric Grocery Bag sewn with a pattern by Michelle's Patterns. Review by Threading My Way

What type of bags do you use for grocery shopping?

... Pam

Edited to add: 
A lot of people have commented on the awesome newspaper looking fabric. It's...
Modern Background Essentials by Brigitte Heitland for ZEN CHIC for Moda

I've since made some of these grocery bags with a sturdy removable base (see blue floral bags above) - How to add a removable bottom to grocery bags.




37 comments:

  1. Hello Pam. Here in Santa Barbara the stores no longer give bags, so the plastic thin bags are no longer an option. I am always on the hunt for great bags. I usually 2 sturdy bags that I can also put over my shoulder so I can walk home. I also always have a thin bag that I carry in my purse for when I am in a store and forgot to bring my bags. This is a great bag. I have pinned it to my DIY Grocery Bags board: https://www.pinterest.com/thelostapron/diy-grocery-bags/

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  2. This looks like a great pattern and I love the newspaper print you used!

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  3. Your bag worked out well - I like the loop you added - I'll have to remember that for my bags :) We mainly use store bought grocery bags because that's what hubby likes - I have my own collection that I take with me - mine are pretty - his are NOT :D

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  4. I had seen the bags at SOTAK but everytime I make bags I leave them behind. This looks great and I applaud the idea, somehow I just cant follow through.

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  5. Hi Pam,

    your new tote bag looks great and also very practical.
    The fabric is ideally suited.

    Greetings from Klaudia from Germany;-)

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  6. Very nice! I've had success making bags from purchased fabric that's the same as that used for the shopping bags sold in stores. It's pretty, but there are few design choices. I love the colorful aspect of your bag. Shall shall have to test out some laminated fabric that's been sitting on the shelf for a while. Thanks for the ideas as always.

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  7. This is great, I really love the newspaper print fabric you used, it makes it look almost vintage!

    Kez | acaciasdreams.com

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    1. Thanks, Kez. That was my aim and I think it worked.

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  8. Oh yes, I love cloth bags. I've finally gotten to the point where I don't forget to take them in to the store. Love the news print fabric and the strong handles. This bag should last for some time.

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  9. I used to use bags I had sewn myself, but I found my kids liked them too and somehow they trotted off!! Now, I have many, many of the bags you can buy in the store for a great price that have pretty pictures on them, are machine washable and made from plastic pop bottles! I really like them and I am recycling too! :D
    I just love your Newspaper fabric for your bags, so classy!!

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    1. The kids have borrowed some of my bags, too - never to be seen by me again. I take it as a compliment.

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  10. I absolutely love the fabric used! I really like using my own bags for shopping, but lately I forget to take them. I was more in the habit of using them when living in Germany when I shopped on the economy there because I had to...so I never forgot them there!

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  11. What a stylish shopper you are Pam! We bought bags for life in Latvia and they are all still going strong years later so they were aptly named. I don't have an issue with having to pay for a bag for grocery shopping as we have to do here in Scotland but I do wish more stores used paper bags for clothes purchases. It just seems wrong for my nice new clothes purchases to be unceremoniously stuffed into whatever grocery bag comes to hand.

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  12. We have bought couple re-usable bags from the grocery stores (they are huge!) that we use - when remembering to take them with us... They are with us with big weekly shopping but the small shoppings are the problem. I will just go to the shop with couple things in my mind, then remember other things that are missing from the fridge, then notice that I can't possibly carry them all in my hands - and end up purchasing a plastic bag. I have had an idea in my mind about a hand bag that would include re-usable shopping bag somewehere in its own pocket. The idea has to wait though, so many other things to sew now...

    The pattern looks great and I like the fabrics you used, very neat. :)

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    1. I can totally relate to not having a bag with me, because I forgot. I do try to keep a small store bought one in my handbag, but sometimes I'm at the shops and realise I forgot to put it in.

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  13. What a fab bag, so stylish and funky! I always forget to take shopping bags with me, maybe if I had one like this I'd remember it more often! #CreativeMondays

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  14. Hi Pam, what a great shopping bag. I love how it hangs on the back of the trolley. So creative :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing at Creative Mondays Pam, you are one of this weeks features :)

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  15. Awesome and wonderful grocery bag, very stylish and very well made.
    We live in western CO where if we want fabric bags have to make ourselves or buy.
    In our town, once yearly is a special event for seniors where fabric bags are given, one quite large so don't need to buy/make bags. Also other vendors at event give out some fabric bags also.
    Between hubs and I we manage to secure several bags to tide us over for year.
    When we take donations to local thrift store they always want my bags, nope, not til next year, lol.
    Your bag is wonderful, love fabric you used for outside especially.Looks like you did superb job sewing it. I usually do things like that, making something stronger, myself when sewing any kind of re-usable container, just how I learned to do things.
    Have wonderful rest of week

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    1. Thank you. It's awesome fabric, isn't it. How lucky that you are given fabric bags each year - nothing like that here.

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  16. Wow, do groceries in style. Love love the fabric. Who likes unpicking, but it has to be done and its always worth it. May I know what fabric is it? I want to make this.
    Thanks

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  17. Very cool bag. I like the fabric.

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  18. Looks like a very useful bag. But oh so stylish. Looks like you hit the right balance.

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  19. Useful bag.Here I use reusable bags I made and reusable plastic bags I bought.Here plastic bag is an option if you buy it.

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  20. Always looking for the perfect grocery bag pattern. This may be it. Thanks!

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  21. Oh, I really do need to make some of these. I use reusable bags, but they are a strange fabric that is not washable. Probably not sanitary for carrying our food, yet I continue to use them. I like how the bottom of yours looks. Will have to check out he instructions.

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  22. No matter how many reusable bags I have, I never have enough for the groceries. They are either in the other car, or in the kitchen still. Answer? More bags! Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. I can totally relate, Linda. I've so far made 6 bags for myself and have managed not to forget them yet.

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  23. Hi Pam
    Just stopped by to let you know that I featured this on my Round Tuit post this week!
    A Round Tuit 331
    Thanks again for linking up to A Round Tuit Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

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  24. I love everything about this! Thank you so much for sharing with us at our To Grandma's house we go link party! Pinned!

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  25. Gorgeous Pam! That fabric is fantastic. I never see such cool fabrics as that. Thanks for linking up. I'm featuring your post at tomorrow's party. Have a great week!

    Anne @ Domesblissity

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  26. Nicely done. We've been using cloth bags and shopping bins for a long time now. So Handy!

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  27. How interesting to make bag corners like the ones of disposable plastic bags! And I love that fabric! :) Lisa

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  28. This is just the kind of pattern I was looking for, all others the handles were to thin. I am working to be a more Eco-friendly home business, so I think offering these instead of plastic bags at crafts would be amazing. I can't wait to make to kept in my purse so I never forget them, lol.

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    1. I'm with you re the handles, Alicia. Thinner handles are much harder on the hands, especially with heavy shopping.

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