Sunday, February 4, 2007

Grocery bag tutorial - updated 9/28/07

I have been making grocery bags form extra fabric in the stash. These two I made from an upholstery remnant that I purchased for $1.50 at a thrift store. I usually put a pocket on the front, made from scraps. I donate the bags to my congregation where they are sold for ~$10. oo each. The bags are reusable, a "green" alternative to the usual "paper or plastic".

The pattern is made from a paper grocery bag.
I made a mini version to show how it is sewn together.
Sew the bottom and side seams first. I cut this one on a fold, so it has only one side seam. Then pull the bottom and the side together to sew the remaining bottom seams. See below.

On the larger bags I turn over the top and add carry handles. This little one I lined and used ribbons for the handles.

I had so much fun making the large bags and the mini one, I decided to make a small one that is book size. This is also re-use of sorts. In the fabrics I inherited from my mother there was a bag of several fussy cut butterfly's. So here is a butterfly book bag, with polka dot lining and old buttons for decoration.

Here are the instructions for adding handles to these unlined bags. I make handles from a 4 inch wide piece of fabric, folded in half and then quarters, sew along each side about 1/4 inch in.

Mark the center of the bag on both sides and then make a mark 2 and one half inches on either side of the center point. You will have 5 inches between the handles.
Fold over the top of the bag one inch and then one inch again, press. Place the end of each handle at the mark, slipping it under the fold. Then fold the handle up so that you now have two layers of handle under the folded top.

Here are all 4 handle bases pinned in place and ready to sew down.

I then sew along the top of the bag at the base of the folded edge, when I come to a handle I sew up and around the square and end with two diagonals to form an X.

This makes for a nicely reinforced handle anchor and the double fold over at the top of the bag gives it nice body.


  1. Gorgeous bags. Thank you for the tutorial. I'm going to try using my fusible vinyl to make this.

  2. Sandra, from south Brazil: great idea, thank you so much ! it sure helps in cleaning the environment also,congratulations.

  3. Great idea! I make many, many 'beach tote' bags using your same pattern (almost), but instead of fabric I use 'Pet screen' which can be found in the hardware store (Home Depot or Lowe's) in the window /screening area. I even make the handles out of the pet screen. (originally gotten from a pattern by Nancy Ota called "Screen Play".

  4. Ooh, nice. I'll add this to a post on my purse blog soon! Perfect timing, as I just posted about Californians having to recycle plastic grocery bags.

  5. I'm so glad I found your tutorial! I made my first grocery bag today out of vintage fabric and an old sheet, and I have seven more cut out and waiting to be sewed. I finished the top edge and inside of handle with bias tape. I'll be giving away 2 bags next week to two lucky readers of my blog. Thank you for sharing!

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  7. man! I just deleted my own comment...


    I love the bags and have been talking, talking about making them but had yet to find a tutorial of some CUTE ones... you rock.

  8. Thanks for the tutorial! I am so excited to try these, and I've been looking for a good tutorial. Would it be okay if I included a link the this on my own blog?

  9. Thanks for visiting my blog and your wonderful sounding Key Lime recipe. I'm looking forward to trying it. I also found it hilarious that two Alaskans would be trading a traditional Floridian dessert recipe. :) :) I was delighted to find another Alaskan's sewing blog and especially your shopping bag tutorial. I know several gals who have been looking for an online how-to. I'm popping an email to them as soon as I'm done here. I'll be back! I live in Wasilla and can't help but wonder if I've ever ran into you in a medical office somewhere! LOL!

  10. Beautiful bags! SO resourceful of you! Enjoyed both your blogs. :)

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