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.
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.
What type of bags do you use for grocery shopping?
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