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Reusable Grocery Bags Sewing Tutorial + FREE Pattern

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Why are reusable grocery bags so great?

People ask me this question all the time. Why are you so passionate about those reusable grocery bags? Well, in addition to them being far more durable, all those plastic grocery bags just go to waste. They end up in landfills, the ocean, and other places we don’t want them. I don’t know about you, but I love to spend time out in nature. And I don’t want to look at all the trash people have left behind. Please clean up after yourselves people!!!!

Amaryllis Lane | Reusable Grocery Bags

As a Geo-Structural Engineer, I deal a lot with environmental issues. Though I’m a huge advocate for protecting our planet and living an eco-friendly life, I do find a lot of misinformed zealots in my day-to-day dealings. Just a little tip: If you are going to be an advocate for a cause, make sure you actually know what you are talking about. I frequently encounter people who passionately attempt to “protect” something while they are actually causing more harm than good or do not know the actual facts/ science of how a process works so their efforts are in vain. I love the passion, but please make sure it is worth your while!

Reducing Plastic Use Helps Sea Turtles

In the Houston area, we have Sea Turtles. If you know anything about me, I LOVE sea turtles. All five species of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico are either threatened or on the endangered species list. These include Kemp’s Riddley, Leatherback, Loggerhead, Atlantic Hawksbill, and Green Sea Turtles. The Houston Zoo Veterinary team helps to rehab injured sea turtles in the area. You can see some of the sea turtles currently being rehabbed in the Kipp Aquarium at the Houston Zoo. You can check out their sea turtle page here.

Once these turtles are strong and ready for life back in the ocean, they are released back into their natural habitat. If you ever get to go to a sea turtle release, I highly recommend it! Its a phenomenal experience watching the healed turtles return to the wild!


Reusable Grocery Bags Tutorial with FREE Patterns

I’ve seen so many different patterns for reusable grocery bags, but not really any I liked, so I made my own version. Did I mention this bag comes in two sizes and they are completely reversible?!?

This tutorial does use some intermediate techniques including topstitching but you have no need to worry, you can do it!

What You Will Need:

  • Free Patterns – Download them (Regular or Small)
  • 1 yd Outer Fabric (Regular) or 2/3 yd (Small)
  • 1 yd Lining Fabric (Regular) or 2/3 yd (Small)
  • Matching Thread (or contrast can be fun too!)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Pins
  • Iron and Ironing Board
  • Sewing Machine

Tutorial

1 | Cut the Fabric

First of all, you will need to decide which size bag you would like to make. Print out your patterns. The ones shown below are my originals made from poster board.

Amaryllis Lane | Reusable Grocery Bags Patterns

Lay your pattern on the top of your fabric with the fabric folded at the fold line. Then pin it to the fabric and cut around the pattern.

Amaryllis Lane | Cut fabric

You will need two for the outer fabric and two for the lining fabric so you will have 4 pieces total.

Amaryllis Lane | cut fabric

2 | Pin the Pieces Together

Pin the outer fabrics with right sides facing each other, then sew those three lines. Repeat for the lining fabric pieces.

Amaryllis Lane | pin

3 | Sew the Bag

For this project, you can use whatever seam allowance you would like as long as you are consistent. I personally use a 1/4 inch seam because I learned to sew from quilting, but you can use what you are most comfortable with.

4 | Press the Seams

Press the seams open. (Note: you can press the seams to the sides, but I find it to be a hassle trying to coordinate which way to press all the seams.)

Amaryllis Lane | press seams

5 | Sew the Box Corners

Next, pin your box corners, lining up your seams. Sew a straight line across your corner as shown below. Repeat with the lining fabric.

6 | Join the Outer and Inner Linings

Pin the right sides together. Make sure to leave a few inches to turn the bag right side out. You will also leave a gap from the end of the handles so that we can join them later.

(Note we will not be joining the handles yet as we will not be able to turn the bag right side out if we join them at this point.)

Turn the bag right sides out.

Amaryllis Lane | right side out

7 | Join the Handles

Start by pinning the handles open with right sides facing each other, then sew.

Amaryllis Lane | handles

Press the seam open.

Amaryllis Lane | handles

8 | Top Stitching

Next, we are going to topstitch the bag and by doing so, we will close up all the exposed edges. Fold the hem to line up with what has been sewn, then press so they are even and pin them in place.

From here, you will topstitch around the entire edge. I topstitched about a 1/8 inch from the edge, but you can choose how you would like to topstitch.

9 | Finished!

And you are done!


I’d love to see how all y’all’s finished projects turn out! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, I’m happy to help ya out! Just leave a comment below.

If you are unsure of how to actually help the environment, stick to the basics while you learn about the rest! Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle! One great way to help is to reduce your use of plastics that may eventually cause harm to our wildlife. Every little effort helps us have a more beautiful future! You can help our planet with other eco-friendly DIY projects like these Reusable Produce Bags to go with your new Reusable Grocery Bags!

17 Comments

    • Elisa

      Yes, you will want to sew the bag pieces together before using the space you left open to turn the bag right-side-out. You will then topstitch the opening closed. Thank you for pointing out that section isn’t super clear for beginners! I’ll work on putting together a little video this weekend to make the whole process clearer. If you have any more questions, just let me know!

    • Elisa

      There are two sizes. The Regular is 17 tall by 22″ wide at the top and 20″ at the bottom and 5″ deep with the handles being 11″ by 2″. The Small is 11.5″ tall by 20″ wide at the top and 18″ at the bottom and 4″ deep with handles that are 10″ by 2″.

    • Elisa

      Hi Madge, I do usually use cotton for these bags, but I just recommend using a fabric that won’t stretch much. Quilting cotton and canvas both work great.

  • Melissa Sanger

    I just finished making this bag out of scrap fabric, and I absolutely love how it turned out. Thank you so much for sharing your pattern! 🙂

  • CATHERINE REILLY-BOTTA

    Hi Elisa, Did you do the video for this bag? I am lost in the woods on how to connect the handles! Thank you so much for the tutorial.

  • Kelli

    I am stuck with the straps- I didnt see a video on how to sew them- like where to start on the opening of the bag- do you then sew up the sides of the straps or not- just confused on how to sew them

  • Bets

    I really like this pattern, but can you tell me what length you leave the handle seams open so they can be sewn together after the bag is turned right side out.

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