Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cloth grocery bags

Say it ain't so.  

Me....the thrifty one, the upcycler, the frugal fanny, the sewer, the make everything yourself person, the owner of enough fabric to officially be considered a hoarder....yes me.  I must admit, I still use the store provided plastic bags.  Until now.  I am almost done with 16, yes 16 lovely, handmade cloth grocery bags.  Could I have bought reusable grocery bags at the store long ago?  Yes, but that is not the point.

Although I have over 60 sewing projects lined up (cut out only) for this blog, I chose to ease my way out of my recent slump with a project that has been on my to do list for a long time.  I actually had several bags started from over a year ago just lying in a box with all the other fabric I had planned for the venture.  When I was unloading the sewing room to move some things (okay, everything) to the storage unit so we can list the town house for sale, I came across a banker box of the fabrics.

I mentioned before, in my recent attempt to get going again with sewing, I cut out a ton of projects at once and noticed how the cut out projects take up so much less room.  My thought was the same here.  I have a whole banker box full of single curtain toppers and table clothes that will end up yielding a pile of bags that will easily wad into a small corner of the trunk.  And I mentioned it as a "make everything pretty" project long without further ado, this little stack that previously filled an entire banker box.  16 bags in all.

This one is actually doubled fabric, so super strong, since it was a single window valance.  It is one of the ones that I started a while back and just needed to find something to sew on for a bottom.  Looking back, I should have cut it apart and been able to make four bags instead of two (thinner, though).    But these will be perfect for heavy cans.

I sewed on the handles using a triple stitch on my sewing machine in an X pattern like you typically see.  I like that this handle is a reversible so it gives a peek of a different look.

Another valance, so doubled fabric and two bags.

And another valance that yields 2 bags.

The rest of these are a single fabric layer but nice thick woven fabrics that started life as a table cloths.  I did try to use a piece of blue jean left over from another project for the handles on this one.

I just used an existing shopping bag as a pattern for these, very loosely used.  I didn't sweat it if my fabric came up short, I just made a shorter bag, for some of these.  So I had one long rectangle for the front, back and bottom, and a skinny short rectangle for each side.  For the single layer bags, I folded over a hem on the top for strength.  For the already double layer bags, the top was already a fold, so no need to hem.

As you can see, on most of these for the handles, I was able to turn to another stash of thrift store items that I had been saving for another purpose...belts.  No more saving things for later unless later is already on the to do list.  Nothing is sacred any more....that's how things never happen.  Besides, I can always buy more if that other project comes to life.

I have a ton of these belts that are lovely colorful gross grain slide buckle types.  I have them for straps on the daughters dresses that I make, but like I said, I can always find more.  Upon closer inspection, most of these are just nice thick gross grain ribbon sewn double, or even with a strip of pleather in the middle for strength.  For the purposes of these bags, one ply handles should be fine.  It is really thick ribbon, not a the thin stuff used for hair bows.  So I got to work with my trusty stitch picker and was able to made a single belt work for two bags.  I also like the way the colors worked together.  Not a perfect match but just close enough to make the bags interesting.

I still have a few to sew handles on, but these will be my new shopping companions.

I always felt guilty for not using reusable but insisted that I could make my own.  Follow through feels great.  I am not sure what they cost to buy, I guess it depends on where you buy, and in the long run, these may have cost me more.  I highly doubt it though.  I don't look at it that way anyway, I'll be able to use these for everything, not just groceries.  And they are unique and I can say I made them.  And hey, one less box to store.


  1. Those are so pretty! I love the way you used the belts as handle material.

  2. You did a great job! And your handles looks really pro! You'll find yourself using these bags for everything, I would suggest you to fold one and keep it in car/office, anywhere and you'll have it ready for any necessity! If you like to create a lined one (and completely reversible), check my Lined Foldable Market Bag (it's a FREE pattern and pic-heavy tutorial) ;)
    MammaNene @