At long last, after SO MANY plastic ones from the grocery store, I’ve begun making re-usable produce bags! I’ve been playing with different fabrics – even with tea towels – and have come up with a basic pattern that you can use with just about any fabric. Here it is – an easy tutorial for DIY Produce Bags!
You will need:
1/2 yard of fabric of your choice – I prefer cotton, if possible, such as muslin
OR a tea towel/flour sack towel
1 yard of ribbon or cord of some kind for drawstring
Optional – Extra-wide, double-fold bias tape for finishing seams
Choose your fabric. Maybe you have a few pieces left from a previous project? I used gauze fabric purchased from a fabric store for some of mine. I also used cotton tea towels(flour sack towels) for some of my bags. The fabric is similar – lightweight but strong – and I tend to buy a fair amount of produce in the wintertime. This means I need quite a few bags.
First, you’ll need a pattern. I used one of the bags provided by the grocery store to start. Then, I decided to “wing it.” If you are not able to use a bag for a pattern, a rectangle measuring approximately 15″ X 20″ will suffice. Bear in mind that this is a suggested guideline. You can really make the bag any dimensions that your heart desires.
Newspaper is easy paper to use for a pattern if you don’t have a sample bag. Use a ruler or yardstick and pencil to draw the size you want on the paper. If this is the size you want your finished bag to be, draw around another 1/2″ seam allowance before you cut out the bag. Otherwise, expect the bag to be 1/2″ smaller all the way around.
***FARMHOUSE TIP – To make it easier on yourself, fold the fabric and let the folded edge be one of the sides of your bag.***
Cutting out the bag
Next, you’ll cut out the bag. Fold the material in half first. Lay your pattern on top of the bag and pin it, making sure that one of the pinned sides lines up on the folded edge.
Cut along the straight lines, without cutting the folded edge, of course. Remove the pins.
Sewing the bag
Now sew along 2 of the edges, creating seams. The folded edge will likely be a side of the bag, unless you want to make it the bag bottom. It’s entirely up to you.
I find it easier to make the folded edge the side of the bag.
Finish your seams with either a zig zag stitch or bias tape.
The top edge is now ready for the casing. Make sure the bag is turned wrong side out.
Fold under 1/4″ and stitch all the way around the top edge of the wrong side.
Choose on which edge you’ll have the drawstring opening. Mark an opening at about 1/2″ on either side of the seam with a pencil or tailor’s chalk.
Fold down again on the wrong side about 1/2″ (wider or narrower depending upon the thickness of what you are using for a drawstring) and stitch. Make sure you leave the opening at the mark.
You can make a buttonhole on the right side of the fabric where you want to pull the cord. This is a little bit more advanced, however, so only do this if you have the skills.
Fold under 1/4″ and stitch all the way around the top edge of the wrong side. Fold the top of your bag down to see where you want the buttonhole to go. The buttonhole will be on the right side of the fabric. The fabric needs to be folded down far enough to allow the cord to fit through, so if you have 1/4″ wide cord, fold down about 1/2″.
Mark where you want the buttonhole to go on the right side with a pencil or fabric pen.
Stitch the buttonhole according to your sewing machine instructions. Then, stitch the whole casing down around the edge on the wrong side, allowing the buttonhole to have clearance on the right side.
Now it’s time to pull the drawstring through the casing.
Cut a length of ribbon or cord that is just about 4 inches longer than the circumference of the top of the bag. For illustration purposes, some of the photos will have contrasting ribbon.
Use a safety pin that will fit into the casing. Attach the safety pin to one end of the drawstring.
Push the pinned end into one side of the opening (or buttonhole) and work it through the casing until the pin comes out the other end. (Be careful not to pull it all the way through!)
When you are at the end, take the safety pin out and tie the ends together in a knot.
Now go shopping!
These DIY produce bags can be useful for other things besides produce. If you have a place where you can buy grains or nuts in bulk, for example, these could come in handy.
You can also use them when traveling to store small items in your suitcase.
Perhaps you can pack your lunch to take to work in one of the bags.
Or you can keep some of your accessories in your closet sorted and dust-free.
I’m sticking with the produce bag option myself. They will really get a lot of use at the Farm Market or the grocery store.
I hope you’ll give these DIY Produce Bags a try!
Let me know how they turn out. I love hearing from you!
You might also like this “Tote Bag Sewing Tutorial.”