Thursday, 4 July 2019

Reusable Tote Bag ~ Easy to Make ~ Repurposing Tutorial

You have the reusable grocery bags sorted, and you are remembering to bring them for the weekly food shopping. But what about incidental shopping? Do you have a bag at the ready for when you find yourself making unexpected shopping purchases? Today's tutorial will show you how to make an unlined, lightweight bag that will easily fit inside your handbag, so you'll always have one on hand.

Easy to make unlined, reusable fabric tote bag ~ Tutorial by Threading My Way

What's even better, they're made from repurposed items - a sheet and a tablecloth. Of course, you could use other fabrics.

The fact that this bag is unlined has advantages and disadvantages...
Pros...
  • Saves a little time in the making.
  • Saves fabric and money.
  • Enables it to be folded up smaller and is less bulky.
Cons...
  • Not quite as strong as a lined bag.

I put all manner of grocery items in my old reusable grocery bags. They are lined and have extra wide handles, which help with the strength of the bag. I'll be a bit more careful with my new bags I'm showing you today. I'll still be using them for the odd grocery shopping (and have already done so), but will be more cautious about the weight of the contents. 

With their longer straps, I'm more likely to use them as a shoulder bag. The day I took photos, one was perfect for stashing a coat and warm scarf when I went out.


Materials:
Any reasonably sturdy fabric. I repurposed an old tablecloth and sheet, both 100% cotton.
  • One piece of fabric: 17" x 33" (43cm x 84cm) - for the bag body
  • Two pieces of contrasting fabric: 17" x 2" (43cm x 5cm) - for the facing
  • Two pieces of fabric: 23" x 4" (58cm x 10cm) - for the handles
The handles on my tablecloth bag are slightly shorter and wider, simply because that was the width of the tablecloth and it's border. The longer handles are better, as it enables the bag to be carried on the shoulder. Vary the measurements to suit. I've given dimensions for the longer handles.

Approximate Finished Dimensions
  • 16½" x 16½" (42cm x 42cm) 


Instructions:
Read all instructions before you begin.

All seams are ⅜"(1cm), unless otherwise indicated.

Basting (hand sewing with a long stitch), is a good way to hold seams together while sewing two pieces of fabric together. The fabric won't move, and you don't have to worry about keeping pins away from the machine needle. Another good alternative is wonder clipsIf you do use pins, remove them as you sew - keep them well away from the presser foot - don't sew over them!

Sew Side Seams...
  • Fold fabric in half, right sides together.
  • Sew down both side seams with a regular stitch.
  • Sew close to the first line with a triple stitch, for added strength. It doesn't matter if the two rows of stitching are reversed.
  • Backstitch when stopping and starting
  • Neaten edges with an overlocker (serger) or zig zag stitch


Box Bottom Corners...


  • Measure 1½" (4cm) from the corner seam (don't measure from the edge of the fabric) in both directions. 
  • Put a mark to show where 1½" (4cm) is. You will have two marks for each corner.

  • Pull out the sides of the bag. 
  • Place the pin on top of the side seam.
  • Put a pin through the top mark. If the pin comes out through the mark on the other side, the boxed corner will line up. 
  • If the pin is not coming out through the mark on the other side, reposition the fabric until it does. 

  • Remove the pin and hold in place.
  • With a ruler, draw a line over the mark and across the fabric. 

  • Sew across the line with a regular stitch.
  • Sew close to the first line with a triple stitch.
I usually cut off the excess fabric and neaten, but for this bag I have left it. See this tutorial. You can do either.


Define Bag Bottom...

  • Press boxed corner seam towards the bottom of the bag.
  • Turn bag right side out.
  • Sew a row of stitching very close to the seam line on the bag bottom so it catches the seam underneath.



Sew the Handles...

  • Fold in half lengthwise and press, either with an iron or a finger pressing tool.

  • Open out so you can see the crease.

  • Fold each half in to meet the crease and press.

  • Fold in half.

  • Topstitch 1/4 inch (6mm) from the edge, on both sides of each handle. Increase stitch length to 2.8 for the topstitching.



Attach Handles...

  • Make a mark 4" (10cm) from each side seam.
  • Place the outside of the handles on the 4" mark.
  • Sew the handles to the exterior. If you pin, remove them as you sew - keep them well away from the presser foot - don't sew over them!
  • Sew 3/8 inch (1cm) from the edge.
  • Sew back and forth a few times to reinforce.


Sew Facing...

  • Sew the short ends of the facing.
  • Neaten.
  • Place the right side of the facing on top of the right side of the bag, lining up the side seams and with the handles sandwiched between.
  • Face the seams in opposite directions.
  • Move the machine needle two notches to the left so the seam is slightly wider than ⅜"(1cm). If your machine doesn't have this feature, just sew slightly wider than ⅜"(1cm).
  • Sew back and forth over the handles a few times to reinforce.
  • Turn a ¼" hem on the bottom of the facing - either press or stitch.
  • Fold the facing to the wrong side.
  • Press the top edge of the bag.
  • Increase stitch length to 2.8
  • Topstitch ⅛" (3mm) from the edge, around the top of the bag.
  • Sew the the bottom edge of the facing in place.


That's it - you've finished! That was a rather long tutorial for a very easy to make bag.


I made four bags all up - two from each fabric. Every little bit of the tablecloth was used, and just the unworn outside parts of the sheet.

Easy to make unlined, reusable fabric tote bag ~ Tutorial by Threading My Way

A girl just can't have too many bags! One of these bags now lives permanently in my handbag, ready for when it's needed.

What type of bags do you use for incidental shopping? Are you always prepared?


... Pam




7 comments:

  1. Vegemite! You didn't think you could include that in a photo and not have it be mentioned, did you? So is it a staple in your home?

    I have a nylon shopping bag in my purse (originally from Avon) that is quite large when rolled out. It fixes onto itself with a small tab and snap fastener and takes up very little space. Trouble is, it is a deep purplish pink and has "lips" all over it... my other half normally refuses to carry it.

    While I appreciate the idea of recycling this way, bags made out of cotton are bulkier to carry around. Very thorough tutorial, in any case!

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  2. I love making bags, but I've never attached the handles quite like that. Thank you for sharing the tutorial at The Really Crafty Link Party. Pinned.

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  3. Great idea! I love bags, and I love making bags! I need to make one of these!

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  4. Very good idea to use old cotton sheet or tablecloth. For the sake of our environment and those who come after us, polyester and nylon (plastic type products) need to be phased out as much as we can.

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    Replies
    1. I couldn't agree more, Lyn. Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. I love a good photo heavy tutorial, you know that!!
    I don't usually do that top stitching to define that bag bottom, I'm going to give that a try next time, I love how smart it looks. Thanks :-)

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