Grocery Bag tutorial

Homemade and hard working

While most of us don't usually jump out of bed to yell "hooray, it's grocery shopping day!",
it still has to be done, for ever and ever. I am always grateful to be able to purchase the grocery items which we need and want, but it's still a bit of a chore and anything which will make that chore easier is most welcome.

Having a large family with five children has ensured I've taken home a mountain of plastic bags equivalent to the size of Mount Doom. They've been recycled as bin liners and reused to carry items from one place to another, and back again. They've been used to store bundles of yarn, fabric etc until the bags disintegrated with age into fragments. As I never developed an interest in cutting up plastic grocery bags to make crocheted mats, baskets, coasters or knitted plant pots, I've thrown a lot away.  
Store bought reusable bags have been purchased only to have them tear before they reached maturity.

Making my own reusable bags has been on the "must-do" list for some time and I'm pleased to announce they have won applause from many quarters. 
I like them because ... they are pretty
                                ... they were quite quick to make
                                ... I finally made good use of this fabric which has been hoarded for a long time                                         - in old plastic bags of course
                                ... they are much easier to carry than the plastic bags, which cut into hands                                                   when loaded with tins and heavy items. The wider straps distribute the weight                                       of a loaded bag very well.
                                ... there is no fear a sudden hole will appear and send a glass bottle of sticky mess                                       crashing to the concrete floor  
The muscles in my family like them because 
                                ... they can now carry even more bags from the car to the kitchen at one time,                                             resulting in less time away from their computers 
The checkout operators like them because 
                                ... the bags are the same dimensions as the plastic bags when open 
                                ... the bags include a loop so it may be hung on the plastic bag stand while being                                         packed 
                                ... the sturdy fabric allows a bag to sit open by itself for easier packing

So let's get down to making them.
I used upholstery weight fabric cut from an old sample book. Cotton duck or canvas would be a good choice too.
You'll need a piece of heavyweight fabric 34" x 20", as well as 108" of 1" wide cotton twill tape for the handles and a 7" piece of shoelace/ribbon/narrow tape. 
*a narrower twill tape will cut into hands whereas the 1" tape seems to spread the load more effectively.
My fabric scraps had to be joined in the centre as they were not large enough for this purpose.
Mark a 1" hem at both narrow ends, as highlighted by the pink line in the photo below. The other narrow end on the right side of the photo has already been folded under.
Stitch the hem down at one end but leave about 4" free at each side, as shown by the purple arrow.  
When sewing the hem for the other end, catch both ends of the shoelace into the hem as you sew it down.

Now mark lines 6.5" from the lengthwise edges, as highlighted by the blue lines below. The blue lines are the guide lines for the twill tape straps.
The orange star shows where to start sewing the tape. Neaten the end of the tape by folding under 1.5" before sewing 1.25" away from the fold. Using the marked line as your guide, sew the tape onto the fabric right up to the narrow end of the bag. Backstitch and cut thread. 
Allowing 16"- 18" of tape as a handle, start sewing the tape down the other side of the bag. Sew all the way to the other narrow end.  

This time when you reach the end, secure the tape by stitching a cross within a rectangle as in the photo below.
Leaving 16" - 18" again for a handle, stitch the tape onto the fabric along the remaining marked 6.5" line. Before you reach the orange star beginning point, measure how much tape you will need to finish, and add 1.25" to slip under the folded end of the tape. 
Now you can finish stitching both sides of the tape, as well as making secure stitches at each handle point.

Fold the bag in half Right Sides together. Stitch sides. Press the seams and lightly crease the bottom of the bag as well. 
Create a box base for the bag by holding the the point where the side seam meets the bottom crease, and carefully laying the side seam along the crease in the bottom. The photo below shows the bag folded so that the side seam is pinned on top of the crease in the bag bottom. I always pin at this stage. I've drawn a line intersecting the side seam at 3.5" down from the point. This line is 7" long and I triple stitched it for added strength.  
Now the hem at the top edges of the bag can be stitched down.
And we're done :)
It's time for a cup of tea and a pat on the back.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and find it useful for making your own carry bags.
Thank you for popping in,
best wishes,


  1. Great tutorial....and here's your pat on the back 👋. Your bags look great and good for you for not using plastic.

    1. My back says, "thank you so much for the pat Laurie"! :) x

  2. I bet these bags are the envy of all the other bags at the supermarket!

    1. You're talking about those "green" bags aren't you ?! ho ho ho :)

  3. Fabulous as always .... and highly entertaining! Thank you!

  4. Thank you for popping in Helen :) xo


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