Making a Reusable Shopping Bag

Reusable shopping bags are a common item as a part of today's waste reduction efforts. This is a guide about making a reusable shopping bag.

Making a Reusable Shopping Bag
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I don't know about you but I hate having to unload 20 bags of groceries that only hold a few items each. seems like it takes forever to haul them all in. I love using my own handmade fabric grocery bags. I keep material that is from clothing or scraps from fabric and make my own shopping bags. This way I am using my resources instead of the plastic bags that end up in the dump. You can make original bags that are gorgeous or just plain bags.

I also love the versatility of them. It makes me very happy to put my recycled material bags on the conveyor belt at the grocery store before I unload the groceries. I always ask them to pack the bags full. Also I find it so much easier to handle the groceries once I get home and have to unload.

So don't pitch that material. Make up some one of a kind grocery bags for your next shopping trip. It will make your experience so much easier.

I also use handles from discarded items or ties from clothing to make the handles. It is a breeze just to sew it onto the inside of the bag once it is finished.

By gem from Gordonsville, VA

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Enjoy this easy project and be ready for lots of compliments!

A finished collection of reinforced shopping bags.


  • reusable shopping bag
  • two different materials
  • belt for shoulder strap
  • jean pocket (optional for inside of bag)
all the supplies you need for this project


  1. Remove handles from bag and sew jeans pocket to inside of bag (optional)
  2. Lay bag on doubled fabric. Make sure to allow for side seams and add four inches to the top. This will be one long piece, not two!
  3. Sew one side seam right side of the fabric to the inside.
  4. Cut three strips of fabric (two of the print, one of the plain) 5 inches wide. You will hem BOTH sides until the strip is four inches wide. Length will be determined by how you pleat.
  5. Measure half the bottom of the bag and add four inches. This is where the fist row of pleats is placed. Sew the three rows on.
  6. Sew other side of the bag.
  7. Square the bottom of the bag. You will have two triangles to material to cut off.
  8. Sew fabric to the top of the bag.
  9. Attach belt as the shoulder strap. I like to use an old woven belt.
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fabric grocery bag with contrasting strapsHere is a homemade reusable grocery bag with matching coupon holder. fabric grocery bag with contrasting straps

Approximate Time: 2 Hours


  • one yard material
  • matching thread
  • any decorations
  • applique'
  • sewing machine


  1. Cut out body of grocery bag: 23x15 inches.
    lining: 23x15 inches
    strap: 15x4 inches
    pocket (if desired) 5x5 inches square
  2. Lay out material and cut out body of bag. With contrasting material cut out lining and straps.
  3. Fold bag, right sides together, sew sides, at bottom of bag, sew corners, 1 inch, cut off access.
  4. Sew lining the same as the body of the bag.
  5. Fold the cut straps of contrasting material, in half, sew along one short end, and along side, turn right side out, press, sew other strap the same.
  6. Leaving body of bag wrong side out, insert into lining, making sure the seams are together.
  7. Insert straps, 5 inches from side of bag. Sew along top of bag, leaving 5 inch opening for turning.
  8. Turn bag, hand sew or machine sew the opening.
  9. The bag is now done.
  10. For the coupon holder

    1. Using 1/2 yard of material, cut 23x20 inch piece of fabric, if desired, use contrasting material.
    2. Sew the front and back together, fold 1/4 way up the front of the piece.
    3. Sew each end, turn, sew up the middle of the pocket.
    4. You have 2 pockets for holding your coupons.
    coupon holder

    By Barbara from Spring Hill, FL

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This is a really simple project that requires no real pattern and once you feel comfortable, you can just cut freehand and "eyeball-it". Finished bag.

Time To Complete: 20-60 minutes


  • 1/2 yard medium-heavy weight fabric (denim, no stretch)
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • pins
  • scissors
  • cutting sheet/ruler and rotary cutter (optional)
  • chalk pencil (optional)


  1. Lay the 1/2 yard flat to cut. You will cut about 3-4 inches off on the side farthest from fold (there will be 2 pieces). You will now have 2 strips of fabric 3 by 18 inches and a long rectangle of fabric 18 inches wide and length anywhere between 20-30 inches, depending on the fabric you choose. For explaining purposes: the fold of the rectangle is the bottom and the opposite is the top.

  2. Wrong side of fabric must be facing out. Sew from the fold to the top, 1/4 inch with straight stitch. Sewing this way will help avoid fabric slipping, or you could pin it. Now sew the other side the same way.
  3. You need to finish the edges, so that they don't unravel. Use a zigzag stitch.
  4. Sewing seams.

  5. Now for the tricky part: making the bottom flat. Hold the corner (fold and sewn edge) with the seam closest to you. Pinch the fabric, pulling apart the sheets. You want the sewn edge to lay flat against the fold crease. Pin this down.
  6. For the cleanest corner, measure 2 inches from tip and draw a line with chalk.
  7. Measuring for corner.

  8. Sew on line.
  9. Cut off the excess and zigzag edge. You could also just leave this on, it makes no difference.
  10. Ppinning up corner.

  11. Making the handles is simple. Fold edges in about 1/4 inch and then sandwich together. Sew in place with straight stitch, do this with both.
  12. Now it's time to hem the top of the bag, you will need pins for this. Fold down top about 1.5 inches, then tuck 1/4-1/2 inch edge under. Pin all around.
  13. Tuck and pin the straps under the hem, when doing to second side: check to be sure they are lined up (you can feel through fabric).
  14. Sew a straight stitch on open side of hem, catching the handles.
  15. Sewing on handles.

  16. Almost done! The last step is to sew up the handles and add strength. Fold up the handles and sew a square where handle and hem edge meet. Do this to all 4.
  17. Sewing the handles up for strength.

  18. Flip inside out and go shopping.

These bags are great for everything! There are so many fun fabrics to show your style and your green living.

By Starchild in VT

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Crafts OtherSeptember 17, 2012
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