Friday, 18 May 2018

Cotton Muslin Reusable Produce Bags

I've had the reusable grocery bags sorted ages ago. There's always a supply in the car, with extras at home if needed. And I always try to have a small fold up bag in my handbag, for spur of the moment trips to the shops. But it's only in recent times that I've actually done something about the never ending supply of plastic that ends up at home as a result of putting fruit and vegetables into plastic bags.

Make some cotton produce bags from muslin ~ Threading My Way

At the beginning of this year I bought some eco mesh produce bags from Tulgeen, a group providing people with disabilities an opportunity to work in paid, meaningful employment - a win win, for the people making the bags and the environment.

Made from a fine synthetic mesh, the bags are light, yet durable, and are serving their purpose well. Sorry, no photos of the eco mesh bags.

Make some cotton produce bags from muslin ~ Threading My Way

Problem is, I never seem to have enough, so I thought I'd have a go at making my own. Finding a suitable mesh fabric is not as easy as it may seem.

By chance, I spotted some cotton muslin when out fabric shopping recently, and remembered Tea and a Sewing Machine's reusable produce bags that had also been made with cotton muslin. 

Although my finished bags are quite serviceable, the project didn't go quite as smoothly as I'd anticipated.

The cotton muslin I purchased, has a very loose weave, and to top it off, was wavy - not flat - making it hard to cut. Maybe I should have ironed it first??? To be honest, I didn't even contemplate ironing - it was so fine, it looked like it would burn easily, and just like cheese cloth, I thought / think the waves are part of the look.

All of those reasons made sewing the seams pretty rough and ready. Doesn't really matter, but not what I'm used to.

Are there different types / qualities of cotton muslin?  

I used my Quick and Easy Drawstring Bag tutorial, modifying the instructions so as to only have one drawstring, and omitting the boxed corners.

When sewing the second bag, I realised that I had doubled the fabric in the first bag. It's so fine, I unknowingly had sewn two layers together. In the very top photo, the closed bag on the right is the one made with double fabric. It's still very usable - just harder to see through and will weigh a little more.

Make some cotton produce bags from muslin ~ Threading My Way

I have yet to take my cotton produce bags to the shops, but just in taking the photos above, the bags don't feel as sturdy, and the drawstring cord is a little hard to close. At 12" x 15", they are perhaps a little too large. I'll let you know how they go.

What experiences to you have with trying to eliminate plastic when buying fruit and vegetables?

... Pam


  1. I'm not very green when it comes to this topic - I use the disposable plastic bags from the store because they're so convenient, keep the fabric shopping bags clean, and don't add to the cost of the groceries. I try to reuse them when I get them home, although not using them in the first place would certainly be the greenest option!

  2. I made reusable bags from an old mosquito net. Also doubled the fabric.
    Very slippery to sew, but it really doesn't matter if it's a bit out of shape!

  3. Since we moved to Scotland we have been able to shop local a good deal more so our grocery shopping is done at a small greengrocer's where plastic bags are entirely optional. A few of these muslin bags in my handbag would save me from using any plastic at all and contain the mess from dirty potatoes and carrots - win/win :)

    1. Thank you for the link to the Aussi bags, I've just placed an order for the net bags and a reused coffee bag.

  4. I must say that I am like plastic shopping bags because I use them for my rubbish too... and I always forget to bring my fabric bags... so I am forever buying new ones :) I'm sure I will get used to it one day!! xx

  5. I have accumulated a lot of plastic veggie bags over the years. To make it easy to reuse them, I made mini versions of hanging bag holders that I can stuff with veggie bags and take with me.
    I’ve also experimented with making my own reusable bags out of nylon net curtains from the thrift shop. They do need to have raw edges serged. In order to keep the weight as low as possible, I use string in the closure casing.
    I also bought a set of Purifyou mesh bags from Amazon. Not sure what they are made from but they do keep moisture in better than my nylon curtains.

    1. Very clever idea to make a carry bag so you can reuse the plastic veggie bags! When I think of all the net curtains I've given away over the years - enough to make hundreds of produce bags. Thanks for stopping by.


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