Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Reusable Grocery Bags

Making the prototype.
both sides of the quilted grocery bag
See the previous post regarding fabric selections and inspirations.  Today, I am so pleased to share with you the results of my experiment.  The grocery bag actually worked!  It held up well on it's maiden voyage to the grocery store.  This one bag held....2 half gallons of ice cream, chocolate chips, muffin cups, a big canister of raisins, a dozen eggs, and some sliced cheese.  The handles did not rip off, and the bottom did not drop out.  I am still curious how it will hold up over the long haul, but it's a start! 

How to make....
Use a bag that you LIKE to make your measurements.  Piece together some fabric in a layout of your choice.  The first side I made, I did NOT like, and the project languished for a day.  So, I ripped it out.
I still can't believe that I did that!
Meanwhile, I was much happier with the new attempts.
Arrange the pieces to fill the entire space like this:
Notice the panel on the bottom is upside down, intentionally.  I will fold this panel in half to sew the sides and then it will be oriented properly.  I filled a space of about 40" long by 20" wide once it was pieced. Then layer the panel with some batting and a backing, and have some fun quilting it!! 

The overall size did shrink from the quilting, but I didn't mind because this is not the kind of project that needs precision. 
After it was quilted, I turned it over and place the straps on it, like this:
Here's a close up of the strap detail:
For the straps, I just looked at a cloth bag I had been using for years.  What construction technique did they use for the straps to hold up so well?  This was it.  I stitched over the folded up strap, once (but, I think I will go back and reinforce it with a second line of stitching).

Then I folded the long panel in half and stitched up the sides, twice, and zigzagged the raw edges.  Some of you might have a serger for this?  I do not....
Next, I folded the bag with the side seams on top of each other.  This makes the bottom of the bag pointed, like so...

And, if you are asking, why use two different colored handles?  A.  I like it.  B.  When opening the bag, it is easier to see which straps belong to which handle, visually reducing strap confusion.  I am making a second tote today, while writing this post, and did not make my straps different colors.  I will probably regret that...sigh.
I usually draw a line at this point.  I use a rotary cutter ruler and line up the side seam with one of the lines on the ruler, and then draw a line perpendicular to the side seam (this will be the bottom of the ruler).  How far up or down along this folded point you sew affects how wide the bottom of your bag is.  I selected about 5 inches across for a grocery bag.
Turn right side out and it's ready to go!
Tips:
1.  I padded the handles with two layers of batting.
2.  And, I suggest your favorite threads for piecing the blocks and quilting.  However, when stitching the structural components of the bag (attaching handles, sides, and bottoms), use upholestry weight thread.  You'll need a big needle to go with that.    :)

Last, my grocery store sacker thought the bag was too tall, she folded the edges down while packing it.  I may make the next one a bit shorter.  And, I am embarrassed to tell you that this bag took me 4 days to make.  I worked so slowly on it, partly because I didn't feel like I knew what I was doing.  I am glad that I stuck with it.  I think the next one will go much faster!  Hope you will give it a try!  Wouldn't it make a lovely gift?




1 comment:

LynneP said...

Fabulous bag!!!! Thanks for the tutorial!