Feb 26, 2013

DIY reusable shopping bag

Just as I promised, I attempted to make my own reusable shopping bag.  The experience took me a few hours and was a little frustrating (because I've never sewn this type of material before), but I think that with a little more practice, I could get one of these puppies done in no time. 

So if you missed my last post, I was rambling on about how awesome it was to be green in your kitchen.  Not only does it save you money but it is also kind to earth.  And I mean, who doesn't love earth?  So if you don't have any reusable shopping bags or you do and are up for a fun sewing project, read on!

So this little tutorial is a mini adaptation of the one I found here at pieandcoffee.org.  If any of my directions are unclear, I urge you to check out this website as they have much more detail and better pictures in their tutorial.

STEP 1:  Get some fabric! And have fun people!  I went a little crazy with my fabric choice, but when else can I use outstandingly colorful fabric such as this piece below?  Plus, I am 100% positive this will make my grocery shopping experience a little more fun & bright (pun intended---hawwwink) I bought 3/4 yard of a stretchy denim/canvas combo.  I thought this choice would be a little more durable.


STEP 2:  Fold your fabric in half and cut your fabric 23 in wide (as per the tutorial above)  This is  what I ended up doing, but I think in the future I'm going to leave the width of my fabric as it comes from the store (27ish inches) and cut the height to 23 inches.  This may or may not have been what the tutorial above actually wanted me to do, since they never mentioned a height measurement.  If so, I was confused, but either way works. 

STEP 3:  To form the pattern for the bottom of the bag you need to cut two squares 5.5 inches wide by 4 inches high out of each corner of your fabric.  Make sure you are cutting your fabric on the FOLDED side. 


STEP 4:  Sew the left and right side of your bag.  Leave the top and bottom squares UN-SEWN.   Now the stitch I used.  This was the most difficult part for me.  I couldn't figure out what stitch would hold this fabric without bunching it, coming undone, or just plain not working.  I experimented with different tensions of my thread, spacing, and stitches, and ended up using a ridiculously complicated stitch that was really unnecessary.  After I finished I found out the best method to use is actually the flat felled seem.  Definitely use this.  It takes a little longer on your machine, since it is multiple steps, but it really will save you time and effort in the long run.  This is my go to stitch for future projects with this sort of material. 

STEP 5:  Pin the corners of the bottom of your bag together and sew.  Now the tutorial at pieandcoffee.org has you first sew the bottom shut with the bag right side out and then has you resew the seems with the bag flipped inside out.  This is the method I used as well, and it turned out alright. 

STEP 6:  Hem that puppy.  This is the hem on the top half of my bag.  And yes, I cheated.  The stitch you see was the original hem I created. But I wasn't happy with how my bag appeared to be too tall for it's width.  (which goes back to the whole 23 inch measurement thing)  So i folded my hem down further and used hem tape the second go around.  Honestly at this point, I was so tired of fighting my sewing machine, plus it was late, that I cheated and used my hem tape I've had sitting around for a year.  Hey that's what it's for anyway right?  So if you feel like cheating too, go ahead, I won't tell.

STEP 7:  With your scrap fabrics, cut pieces that are 4 inches wide and however long you would like your handles to be.  My handles ended up a little shorter than I would like, so make sure you presize them with your bag.  Fold them in half (hot dog style) with the print sides inward. Stitch along the edge, but leave the ends open.  When you've got them stitched, flip them inside out so the fabric print is on the outside again. 


STEP 8:  Attach straps to bag.  So I folded that unfinished edge into the tube about 1/4-1/2 inch and then used a straight stitch to sew around the border of the handle.  As you can see below, I made an "X"  to add extra strength to the hold. 

The upside down view from the other side of the bag.  Sorry, blogger won't let me flip my pictures around for some reason!


STEP 9:  Admire your finished product.  There you go folks.  A finished reusable shopping bag.  I bet this thing will hold at least 4 plastic bags worth of groceries.  I have to go grocery shopping later today, so I'll let you know ;-)





Update:
Look at this beaut! She worked and held more groceries than I coulda hoped for.

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