Thursday, August 11, 2011

Reusable Tote Tutorial

Today I was reading an article about the swirling gyre of plastic in the Pacific Ocean. Apparently it is 6 miles across and killing the marine life. This got me to thinking about how many plastic bags I use every time I head to the grocery store. While I have a few reusable bags I purchased, I rarely make sure that I have them with me when I go to the store and end up having to use plastic bags anyways. However, my main waste is on produce bags. I get like 20 every trip because we consume lots of fruits, veggies, and bulk items. To see my options I went to There it says to bring reusable bags with you, so I googled "Reusable Produce Bag Pattern" Daisy Jane's fabric produce bag pattern came up. It took a fat quarter or an 18x18 inch square of fabric. I just used some leftover fabric I had from a dress I made Aubrey.

My favorite things about the produce bag is that it is light, sturdy and it rolls up easily.
After I made the produce bag, I cut out the green fabric thinking I was going to make two more produce bags, but was distracted. When I came back to the project I noticed that the fabric was the perfect size for a shopping tote. So I put together a little tutorial on how to make your own grocery tote.

Here is what you need:
2 18x17 inch rectangles of main fabric
2 18x4 inch rectangles of main fabric
1 8x4 inch rectangle of coordinating fabric

Step One: Making the Pocket
  • When cutting the fabric for the pocket, I let one one long side be the selvage so I didn't have to sew that side because the edge was already finished.
  • Fold over the remaining three edges 1/4 inch under and press.

  • Pin the pocket to the main fabric where you want it. Be sure to keep it away from the exact edge because you will be sewing the edges.  I put mine in the upper center.
  •  Sew down the three sides making sure to leave the selvage side open.
Step Two: Making the Handles
  • Fold your 18x4 inch pieces in half long ways and press.
  • Fold both long sides to the middle of the strip. Press well.

  • Fold in half again and press.
  •  Sew around all four edges.
Step Three: Making the Tote
  • Lay both your main fabrics wrong sides together. You are going to create a French seam. This is to help maintain the life of your bag! So if you put a gallon of milk in there, it hopefully won't rip out. If you don't know how to do a French seam go HERE
  • Next go around the top of the bag, and fold under 1/4 inch and press. Then fold under again 1/4 inch and press.
  • After you do your french seam, your bag should be inside out. Sew along the bottom of the bag (make sure the pocket opening is up and not down or else you will be hitting your head at the end!)
  •  Go ahead and pull your fabric to make the bottom corners into triangles. It can take some maneuvering to get it just right. I also like to make sure my bottom seam and my side seam are lined up. To do that, you use your fingers inside the bag to feel that the bottom seam is directly on top of the bottom seam.
  •  Now, mark 2 inches from the tip of the triangle on both sides and sew across your mark. I like to sew twice on the same line for good measures.
  • Trim off the top of the triangle about 1/2 and inch from the seam you just sewed. This is to decrease bulk.
Step Four: Attaching The Handles
  • Pin each handle to the tote. I put each end 4 inches from the sides. Pin well because it will move on you.
  • Now topstitch twice around the "hem" you created in Step 3. Make sure to back stitch across the handles. I apologize for the slopping sewing. Aubrey likes to help... Ususlly she just pulls the fabric and pushes the reverse button over and over again. I got to this step right as she woke up from her nap so there was no stopping me. 

  • Flip your bag right side out and shout "Ta-Da!"
Step 5: Using your Bag

  • Make a coordinating produce bag! 
  • Put them in your glove box.
  • Any store you go in, bring your bags and insist on reusable. If people stop using plastic bags, the stores will quit buying them. If the stores no longer buy them, then the plastic bag makers will stop making them. 
I hope this is very helpful! Now go be a dot on this little planet and reuse your bags, care about the environment, and love your neighbors. 
P.S. I know I said I had  a skirt coming your way, but I ran out of thread and I don't have any coupons... So I have to wait either for thread to be on sale or until I get a coupon... :) So I hope this works for the moment! Also, I had to write this 3 different times because my computer kept shutting off so it may be missing a step. I read through and it looked fine, but let me know if you notice anything missing or wrong! Thanks


  1. Yeah, Save the fishys! lol
    I know I have about a dozen different totes in the back seat of my car, but I have such a hard time remembering them when we are going somewhere other than the grocery store. I know I look like a dork at the craft stores when I tell them I'll just put it all in my purse until I get to the car where my bags are. ;)

  2. Great idea! I like putting them in the glove box... Also, I don't know where you are at.. But I LOVE Bountiful Baskets, it is like a produce co-op, and so much fun, you should check it out if it is in your area.


  3. Cute bag! I am so excited that you are following me, thanks! I would love to email you the quinoa burger recipe, but I will require your email address, haha.

  4. So cute and you did a great tutorial! Thank you so much for linking up to It's a Party!