Tutorial 1 -Easy Grocery bag
Tutorial 2 -Grocery bag with a flat bottom
In this article I will cover:
In this article I will cover:
As part of sharing household duties, my husband proposed that he will do the grocery shopping. I didn’t agree – that is my privilege. I love shopping for groceries.
I love walking along the jammed aisles of the supermarket and decide on what I want to buy from all the options available for even the common salt with the deliberation and seriousness of a government official deciding on the many bids before him. Everyone has a weakness!
And with the proposed banning of plastic bags, I have decided to make a reusable fabric grocery bag for myself that I can carry in my hand while my shoulders carry my handbag.
You see, I was using tote bags earlier to buy groceries but carrying two bags on your shoulder, especially when one is overfilled and overloaded is very uncomfortable – have you tried it? It is doubly tacky carrying bags on both shoulders.
So here is my version of the handheld Grocery bag – one you can make in half an hour or less (if you are fast in selecting fabric and cutting which takes a lot of time for me) and for which you need only the bare minimum sewing knowledge to make it yourself.
How to make a hand-held Grocery Bag
Step 1. Grocery Bag Pattern
Cut out the fabric pieces for the grocery bag.
You should choose a sturdy fabric for this bag like canvas, cotton duck – you will be carrying heavy things in it. If you have medium weight fabric choose to use two layers of the same fabric ( and treat it as one as you sew – like you would do with underlining when sewing garments)
Step 2. Make the handles
With the 3 inches by 12-inch pieces you have cut out – make two handles – simply fold the side edges to the inside, press together in place and then top stitch. You will get a 1-inch wide bag handle (Here is a post on the different types of Bag handles you can use)
Step 3. Prepare the grocery bag body
Fold the top edge of the two bag body pieces twice to the inside and stitch in place.
You should first fold the top edge 1/2 inch to the inside and then again fold 1/2 inch.
Zigzag/serger stitch the other edges of the pieces to finish them neatly on the inside as well.
Step 4. Join the handle to the bag
Find the center of the top edge. Mark two inches to either side of this center.
Fold the short edges of the handle to the inside and join it there.
Step 5. Prepare the side panel
If you do not have a 51.5 inch long fabric piece which is 6 inches wide, join as many fabric panels as you want to get this dimension.
Fold the short edges ( ends) of this panel 1/2 inch first and then 1 inch. Stitch in place.
Turn the long edges of the piece to the inside (once) 1/4 inch and stitch in place.
Step 6. Join the side panel to one of the bag body pieces
Keep the side panel on top of the side edge of the one of the bag body piece and topstitch in place.
The stitching should be very close to the edge till you reach the end when you will have to slant the stitching slightly(1/4 inch)- see the white line in the picture below.
Now turn the side panel to the back. This is done for easy manipulation of the corners
Manipulate the corner to make a mitered corner.
PS: Do not leave the fabric edges unfinished as I have done – zig-zag finish – it shows on the inside : (
Pin this corner in place.
Start from the other side (left in the picture) and follow the same steps.
Stitch in place.
Do the same maneuver for the other corner as well. Pin in place the corner into a mitered corner as earlier
Now stitch the bottom edge in place, securing the corners as you stitch.
Join the other bag body piece to the other side of the side panels the same way.
You are finished with your Grocery Bag sewing.
Now onto shopping.
In the movie Aquaman there is this scene where the king of Atlantis decides to throw back all the plastic waste (and other pollutants) deposited in the ocean bed back at earth as weapons. So poignant and well deserving. Oceans must have had enough in real life too and this scenario may happen sooner than later. But even if we are aware of the looming problem, are we willing to do enough to stop the plastic menace? Can you do something concrete to curb the ever increasing plastic usage? (Ref 1)
The first thing that should go from every home is the one-time-use plastic bags we carry from shopping malls and super markets. They sure do accumulate and are a real clogging thing on the environment. Here is a tutorial to make a Grocery shopping tote bag that is roomy enough to carry a lot of things but still look good enough to carry on your shoulders as you go shopping. The picture of the bag above has 5 kg of rice, 2 kg of flour, and various other packets stuffed inside and still has room for some more. So you know how much it will carry!
Step 1. Cut out the Fabric pieces for the bag
Follow the picture below to cut the pieces for the bag. You need to choose a thick densely made fabric for this. Canvas works best. Check out this post for a list of thick and heavyweight fabrics.
2 pieces of Bag body measuring 12 1/2 inch width on one side and 17 inch on the other. The bag body length is to be 17 inches.
2 pieces of gusset pieces for the sides 17 inches long and 5 inch width
1 piece as bag bottom 12 1/2 inch long and 5 inch width.
2 pieces for the bag handles 25 inches long and 5 inches width.
Keep one of the bag body piece right side up. Keep the bag bottom piece right side down- along the 12 1/2 inch edge. Join together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Keep the other bag body piece and the above joined piece together (right sides together) and stitch together at the 12 1/2 inch edge.
Step 3. Sew the side gussets
You have to sew the three sides of the gusset to the bag body. Keep one of the side gusset piece along the sides and stitch.
You should not stitch the whole gusset in one go – when you reach the corners stop 1/4 inch from the edge.Then start again.
This will create neat corners. Do this for the other side as well.
Do not forget to back stitch and anchor thread every where you stop. The picture below shows how the gusset looks after it is stitched.
The bag body will look like this now.
Step 4. Finish the edges inside
There is no lining inside this bag so you will need to finish the fabric edges of the seam allowances inside now. You need to do this for the bag to look neat inside, as it does outside.
You will have to either use a serger or use the zigzag stitch in your sewing machine to finish the fabric edges inside. It will also strength the seam.
You may also want to make another stitch along the seam to double strength the seam if you mean to carry things like the 5 kg rice I have
Step 5. Make the Bag handle
Take the handle fabric. Fold the 2 long edges to the middle.
Fold again by the middle – you will get a folded fabric which measures 1 1/4 inch.
Stitch the edges – stitch along both the edges.Finish the short edges with zigzag stitch.
Step 6. Sew the top edge and Attach the bag handles
Mark to keep the bag handles 6 inches apart by the middle of the top edge.
Fold the bag top edge twice to the inside and keep the bag handle to the inside of this edge and stitch in place.
Make an x stitch to really strongly attach the bag handle.
Other than making this tote bag and carry it every where, What simple things can you do today to reduce the plastic problem ?
Take drinking water in a stainless steel bottle, every where you go – Refuse to succumb to buying water in plastic bottles, unless you absolutely have to. Bottled water is one of the number one plastic pollutants. When you read that ” It takes 450 years for a single use plastic water bottle to break down” it makes sense.(Ref 2)
Use old newspaper to wrap waste.
Get your ice creams in a cone, not the plastic cup.
Carry your own mugs to office to get coffee. The paper cups you use still have a plastic lining inside and is just as bad.
Buy more stainless steel containers and store food in them rather than in plastic containers.
If ordering food home through food delivery apps or carry takeaways insist on “No plastic containers”; I would have said ‘make food at home’ but that is easier said than done.