Wednesday, 9 January 2019

How to ~ Add a TAB to the Top of a Grocery Bag or any Tote

I like to add a tab to the top of my shopping bags. It helps when packing the groceries at the checkout.

All you need is a little scrap of fabric. The colours don't even have to match the bag. 

The tabs shown in the photos were made from a piece of fabric 3" x 2". Since then I've made them a little longer, starting with fabric that is 4" x 2".

  • Fold fabric in half lengthwise and press.
  • Open out so the fold line (crease) can be seen.

  • Fold the long sides in till they meet the middle fold line.
  • Press

  • Fold in half again.
  • Begin topstitching about ¼" from the short edge to make it easier for the fabric to feed properly.
  • Backstitch at start and finish.
  • Topstitch close to the edge on both long sides - about ⅛".  If your machine doesn't co-operate, either move the stitching further away from the edges, or move the machine needle to the left (if your machine has this function).

  • Attach to the right side of the top of one bag piece, by basting (hand sew with a long stitch).
  • Machine stitch ¼" from the edge.
  • Reinforce by stitching back and forth several times.
OR... if you pin instead of basting, remove the pins as you sew and keep them well away from the presser foot. Do NOT sew over them!

  • Sew up the bag as you normally would, sandwiching the tab in between the right side of the outer fabric and the lining.

A handy little feature, and easy as!!! To add a tab to the inside seam of a bag, follow the same method, making the tab shorter, though.

My reusable grocery bags post has pictures of the whole shopping bag.

How to add a tab to a tote bag. Tutorial by Threading My Way.

The contents of a shopping bag are very telling, aren't they? I may have a reusable grocery bag, but you can see three plastic bottles in there. Granted, they can be recycled, but that's not as good as not buying them in the first place.

I haven't figured out a way to eliminate the use of plastic milk bottles, but I no longer buy bottled water (except on the very odd occasion when I'm out and have forgotten to bring my reusable water bottle). We've purchased a water filter that we're very happy with. It'll pay for itself within a year, but more importantly is drastically reducing the amount of plastic I buy.

The amount of plastic we are generating in the world is a real problem. I'd love to hear how you have managed to cut down on plastic use?

... Pam



  1. That is a handy tip, adding a hanging loop to the top of bags. I might even do that to purse totes, to make them easier to store. As for the plastic, we are now faithful about all recycling and are much more mindful of what we buy.

    1. I didn't even think about storage. Thanks for the suggestion, Jeannie.

  2. Our packing areas at the grocery store do not have that little hook that would make the loop useful, but I see why you'd add one in your case. Good thought.

    I am trying to wean myself off plastic wrap. It used to be that if I had half an onion left, it would get wrapped in plastic, that sort of thing; now every thing goes into a reusable container. I have always reused freezer bags and am now more mindful about that, tossing them out for recycling only when they are no longer useful. However small an act, I think we have to do something.

  3. Brilliant idea for the tab. I am on a campaign to get every restaurant I patronize to stop handing out straws without asking first. I carry tote bags into every store, not just grocery stores but also department stores and shops. I refuse all plastic bags everywhere. I also try to buy items made of recycled plastic, as we need to create a market for the recycled plastic - a great one Dream Green batting from Quilter's Dream.

  4. This is a brilliant idea, thanks Pam! I buy biodegradable plastic wrap and also use foil more as that can be recycled. Plastic milk bottles are a problem for us too :(

  5. There are many types of reusable grocery bags that are present in the market. It depends entirely on you and you have the ability to choose which kind of reusable bag that you would like to buy. Thank you so much for share your amazing tips.

  6. If everyone would recycle, it would help so much! Thanks for the reminder.

  7. That tab can be useful to clip your keys on, too. I use a water filter and have used a thermos to carry my water (I like it cold) for probably 20 years. I have mesh bags for loose produce and carry reusable bags everywhere. My plastic bag use is down to almost zero. I bought a set of covered pyrex dishes for storage and am amazed at how useful they are and how infrequently I have to resort to plastic wrap or foil for leftovers. I deliver a "straw" lecture in every restaurant where I get an unrequested plastic straw. Since I rarely eat all of whatever I order in a restaurant, I'm starting to consider bringing my own "doggie bag" container when I go out. Haven't tried that yet, but why not?


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