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How To Make An Eco-Friendly Shopping Bag

Updated on August 29, 2013

Easy To Make Replacement, For The Plastic Shopping Bag!

You will need one meter or yard of medium weight cotton denim (not stretch-denim) Poplin, Twill, a polished cotton or a light weight upholstery fabric. Using a 45"/112.5cm wide fabric works out perfectly without any waste. If your sewing machine takes heavy-duty thread use it, otherwise an all purpose thread of matching or contrasting color will be fine. You'll also need a measuring tape, a good pair of cutting scissors and some pins. An iron would be helpful and your sewing machine.

For you, who don't have a sewing machine you need to follow the same steps. You'll also need good sharp hand sewing needles. Sew all the seams using really small running stitches, once you get the the end of the seam go back again and reverse your stitches...( have the stitches showing in the empty spaces) For extra durability give it an extra seam. Obviously sewing the bag by hand will take a bit longer but these are great take along projects to sew while on the bus or subway to and from work or when traveling.

 

1.Cutting: total of 5 pieces-follow the lay-out drawing. (note -no or little material waste)

  • cut 1piece 24"/60cmX42"/105cm for the main body of the bag

  • cut 1piece 4"/10cmX42"/105cm for strap piece#1

  • cut 2pieces 4"/10cmX36"/90cm for strap piece#2 & piece#3

  • cut 1piece 8"/20cmX8"/20cm for pocket

         Shown on right side fold over 1 1/2"/3.75cm            Shown on left side  fold over 1/2" / 1.25cm         #1
Shown on right side fold over 1 1/2"/3.75cm Shown on left side fold over 1/2" / 1.25cm #1
 #2
#2

Prepping Strap:

Sew together the strap pieces to form a large "ring" using a 3/8"/1cm seam allowances, press seams open

Next using your iron fold strap over a 1/3 it's width lengthwise.... 11/2"/3.75cm (right side of picture #1)

Fold over and iron 1/2"/1.25cm on opposite side (left side fold of picture #1 )

Next fold strap in half and press (picture # 2) -sew around the whole 'ring' 3/8"/1/2cm from edge

Fold strap 'ring' in half and mark with a pin both halfway points, (we'll use these guide points when we're ready to assemble the bag)

Prep: main body of bag

Double fold the two 24" ends 3/8"/1cm and again 3/8"/1cm and press

Do the same double fold at the top of the pocket & press

Give a single fold at the bottom of the pocket & press

 #3
#3

Prepping main body of bag and pocket:

Double fold the two 24" ends 3/8"/1cm and again 3/8"/1cm and press

Do the same double fold at the top of the pocket & press

Give a single fold at the bottom of the pocket & press

 #4
#4
 #5
#5
 #6
#6
 #7
#7
 #8
#8

Sewing:

Sew the two pressed end seams of 'main body' of bag and the top seam of the pocket. (I've used a contrast thread so it might be easier to see)

Centre & pin pocket onto 'main body' 5"/12.5cm or so from top seam (make sure you have the single fold pinned under so there will be no raw edge that can unravel). Now sew bottom seam of pocket onto 'main body'.

Easy way to centre length of 'strap ring' onto bag.....don't let this next bit confuse you just follow it step by step: take strap guide mark #1 and pin it to the left top edge of the 'main body'.....pin guide mark #2 onto right bottom edge of 'main body'

also centre the width of strap over pocket (so that the raw side edges of pocket are covered) (pictures #5&6)

Sew all around both sides of strap

Re-enforce strap at all 4 top edges (sew over them each 3-4 times)

Fold 'main body' in half right side out, pin top sides together (making sure that your edges are even) sew using 3/8"/1/2cm seam allowance

Turn bag inside-out, press seam flat making sure that the seam is right at the edge, sew a seam at 1/2"/.08cm (you have just accomplished a french seam) (picture #7)

We're almost done.

You have a flat bag now, just like an envelope. To give it "thickness" pull the bottom corner point out, pin in a triangle as shown (both corners), give it a double seam, turn right side out and "tah-dah" done.

Introducing the Eco-friendly Shopping Bag that you made
Introducing the Eco-friendly Shopping Bag that you made

Time to brag...The plastic-grocery-bag has been ousted.

Congrats! Now you're ready and you know how to mass produce these Eco-friendly shopping bags for yourself, for family, for friends and neighbors.....

I've designed this bag with the strapping enclosing the body of the bag to give extra strength. The total weight carried in them is not depending only on the strength of the patch of fabric and thread that was used to fasten on the straps.

Tips: Instead of making straps you can replace them with webbing available at the fabric stores. This webbing adds extra strength too. But make sure you use the same enclosing style.

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    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 3 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      RTalloni, with the handles going around the whole bag it really is a very sturdy shopping bag. I've been using this design for years and years for everything... heavy or light loads.

      thank you for reading and commenting.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      This popped up and caught my eye because I've been on a bag making spree. :) Your post shows how to make a very sturdy, durable, shopping bag that would serve anyone better than most of them do. Nice job all round.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 3 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      shamim en mackenzie so glad that the project worked out for you.

      I can honestly tell you that I can make these bags in my sleep because I have sewn so many. I have made multiples of them for my children, my granddaughters, many of my friends and these are the only shopping bags I use regularily.

      Thank you for reading and commenting

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      shamim en mackenzie 3 years ago

      this was the best project that even took us to nationals bravoz for the idea

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 4 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks for visiting Moonlake. These bags are so easy and fun to make. I've used up most of my remnants and can't tell you how many of these I have made for myself, family and friends. Everyone absolutely loves them.

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      Nice hub when I get done with all my quilting stuff I plan on making some bads for shopping. Voted up.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Lindsay, thank you for taking a look and for commenting.

      The eco friendly products are the most important

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • lindsays5624 profile image

      lindsays5624 6 years ago

      Very nice idea. You can never have too many eco friendly ideas.

      Now we just need to make sure we fill them with eco friendly products!!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      creativelycc, thank you for taking a look and for commenting.

      Let me know if you have any questions.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • creativelycc profile image

      Carrie L. Cronkite 7 years ago from Maine

      Great! I was looking for someone to show me how to make one! Thanks

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      printed carrier bags, thanks for taking a look and for commenting.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      printed carrier bags 7 years ago

      What a creative idea! This is the second hub I have found really interesting by you! You have some great ideas for environmentally friendly products with such easy to follow instructions.

      Taz

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      hot dorkage, thank you for taking a look and for commenting. I've made a whole slew of theses bags and love them much better than the reusable ones. Mine are actually color coded. Green for produce, red for meat products etc. The best part is that I can wash them.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • hot dorkage profile image

      hot dorkage 7 years ago from Oregon, USA

      very clear instructions! A lot of stores sell very afforable reusable bags now but if you want a custom unique bag for yourself or others, these would be great!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Jamesmoralde, thanks for taking a look and for commenting.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • jamesmoralde profile image

      jamesmoralde 7 years ago from Florida, USA

      good job! this will make a nice valentine's gift...

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks Fresh Flower for taking a look and for commenting.

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • Fresh_Flower profile image

      Fresh_Flower 7 years ago from London

      I've been using plastic bags for to long now, time to quit. Great hub

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks for taking a look and for commenting.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • ilovehubbing profile image

      ilovehubbing 8 years ago

      I like it

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks for taking a look Starving Artist. and for commenting.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Starving Artist profile image

      Starving Artist 8 years ago

      really great lens...thanks for all the details

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks for dropping by Nightcats. If all were to take our environmental problems to heart it wouldn't be a problem anymore.

      I appreciate the comment. regards Zsuzsy

    • nightcats profile image

      June Campbell 9 years ago from North Vancouver

      Thank you for this hub. I am passionate about doing what we can to be enrionmentally responsible. Your bag ideas are splendid

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Trish I just checked that plarn stuff out... Looks interesting... I guess I could try sometime... but I'm sure I will prefer the sewn version... zs

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 9 years ago

      Zsuzsy,

      I am going to check it out some more myself. I do not crochet, well, not well anyway, so it's not something I would do myself, but I found it to be interesting.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Trish! I love it when you come for a visit. Plarn... I will have to check it out. I heard of people making grocery bags out of plastic but I've not seen them yet neither did I know that they actually gave that stuff a name.

      Thanks, kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 9 years ago

      zsuzsy,

      This is a great hub. Last weekend I was visiting my brother, and my sister-in-law asked me if I ever heard of 'plarn'. I said noooooooooo,,,,,,can't say that I have. Well, turns out people are crocheting bags made of, you got it, plastic shopping bags. It really is amazing and another good way to re-use plastic instead of clogging our dump sites with it. If you care to check it out, just Google the word plarn.

      Trish

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      CGull! That's my hope too. Thanks for taking a look and commenting.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Great tips, I missed this one. I bought some cloth bags from Amazon.com, since then for a few months, I have never used any plastic bags, so thats a good thing. I hope everyone either makes the bags like yours or they should buy cloth bags and help the environment.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks for taking a look Glassvisage. regards Zsuzsy

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 9 years ago from Northern California

      Great detail and nice accompanying photos :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Isabella! Thanks for popping in. Thanks for the comments too.

      sorry I didn't get back to you earlier but I'm off in the wilderness camping with my granddaughters... The connection between the laptop power-pack and the RV powersource just doesn't always want to work quite right.

      Kindest regards to you Zsuzsy

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 9 years ago

      How very European, Zuz!! And very creative, of course!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Monitor! Thanks for visiting and your kind comment

      regards Zsuzsy

    • monitor profile image

      monitor 9 years ago from The world.

      ECoBag! More power to you and everyone who makes one of these. Well done Zsuzsy Bee. I think I may even have a go at this.

      Your fan.

      Monitor.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Sixtyorso! Thanks for visiting and for your kind comment.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 9 years ago from South Africa

      Great Hub. We have imposed a surcharge on plastic bags in our stores. So we now make use of material bags (store bought mostly).So your hub is a great way to make our own custom shopping bags. a plain green, blue or any other colour will definitely ensure you are beaten up as a wimp in the store (as a mere male that is).

      Excellent instructions but I don't want to break dearly beloved's sewing machne!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      C.S.! nice of you to comw by and take a look... I made myself a bag following this pattern only a bit bigger and a few zippers in 1985 when I returned to College to use as book-bag. Mechanical Engineering (drafting) had a mega amount of books a "thousand pounds each". My bag survived and as a matter of fact is still going strong. When I get home next week from camping with my granddaughters I will add a picture of it to this hub.

      Thank you visiting kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Sally! Always glad when you pop in for a visit. I wouldn't mind having a toony for each bag I've ever made following this pattern... I used it as one of the first projects in my sewing classes, for adults and kids alike... always a favorite.

      If it's made of denim it really doesn't matter if it's for girls or boys, women or men... good to carry everything in from school books to groceries etc...

      thanks for commenting kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Sorry Rookie! I was away camping with my grandaughters, there just wasn't any time to even open the laptop...

      Thank you for taking a look and your comment, I wish you would try to make this bag it really is easy going and a good first project...

      regards Zsuzsy

    • C.S.Alexis profile image

      C.S.Alexis 9 years ago from NW Indiana

      I like the way you reinforced the bottom of your bag design with the strap handles. Very Nice! C.S.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 9 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Zsuzsy, this is a great project. Years ago I used to make tote bags following a design very similar to yours. I loved making them for gifts, and I would custom-monogram them. Who ever knew the plastic bag issue would be putting these practical and attractive hand-made bags right back into fashion?

      Just had a thought...make a smaller bag for your young helper to carry. And if that young helper happens to be a boy, make the bag in a color funnebone would approve of. :)

      Great hub!

    • Rookie Expert profile image

      Rookie Expert 9 years ago from US

      What a wonderful tutorial. I've been a fashion student, but i never paid attention to sewing, i just thought it was too difficult and that i should leave sewing up to the tailors! Now i wish i had learnt some stitching! Great hub Zsuzsy.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Abhinaya! How are you? Haven't chatted for a while.Thanks for taking a look and for commenting. How about after you make your shopping bag you post a picture here. I would really love that.

      We have a custom here in our neck of the woods (Canada) that at the end of the school year the kids take a gift to their teachers. My granddaughter asked me if I would make a couple of these bags for her to give to her teachers...They were a great success...

      Thanks again for visiting. regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      Abhinaya 9 years ago

      This is another great hub from you Zsuzsy.Just a few days back my kids' school asked everyone to  bring 15 polythene bags and said they will be given a cloth bag in exchange.It is so good to see people changing to make this Earth a safe place to live in.

      I love the way you make things that I like, so simple.When I make this one I will have something to flaunt about.Thanks for such a useful hub.Thumbs UP!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Funnebone! Love the new avatar!

      If you make the shopping bag out of denim (jean material) or a printed fabric featuring sports or plaid or such. I'm sure you'll be safe from the mean beaters in the outside world.

      Always glad when you come by for a visit. regards Zsuzsy

    • funnebone profile image

      funnebone 9 years ago from Philadelphia Pa

      is there a way you can show me how to make a masculine looking one of these so I can be eco friendly and not be beaten up outside the circle k?

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      MM Del Rosario! Thanks for taking a look. Calico is a good fabric too for the bag.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • MM Del Rosario profile image

      MM Del Rosario 9 years ago from NSW, Australia

      I am a fan of eco friendly bag--- i like to use calico. thanks for the easy step to step procedures......

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Lupo! You're very welcome. Hope your fiancée get some use out of the hub.

      Thanks for taking a look regards Zsuzsy

    • Lupo profile image

      Lupo 9 years ago from Boston Area

      I'm not much for sewing but my fiancé is, and she loved it when I showed her this hub. Thanks for the good instruction and info!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Michelle I've had many students that thought they couldn't sew. Very few remained "unbitten" by the sewing bug. I love creating things so much and I know you do too. I read your hub where you painted the bear... I really hope you will give it a try. Just imagine how proud you'll be when you take your bag out shopping. You can always contact me if you're stuck and I'll help. zs

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      You would find me a difficult student when it comes to sewing LOL Hmmm...I may find somebody to follow your instructions! Yes! Indeed it could be a great idea for gifts too... :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Michelle! It's not hard to make these bags. You should try, you might even enjoy sewing them. They also make good gifts.

      thanks for coming by regards Zsuzsy

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Can you sew one for me Zsuzsy please, Zsuzsy? :) I don't know how to sew like you can. This reminds me of one of the stores here who sells this type of bag. If you use this instead of plastic, they give you double points for your groceries. Yes, (guilty) our dept stores still use plastics. Bad.bad.bad, I know :(

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Randi! Let me know how it goes. You could link a picture of your creation here. It would be just great.

      Glad you came by for a visit. regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Marian! You know making your own will really remind you to take them along when going to the grocery store.

      Thanks for taking a look and for commenting regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      B.T. You're right lots of room for Bu***r t***s especially if you're on this side of the border.

      Thanks for taking a look regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      Randi B 9 years ago

      Thank you! This is a great hub - easy to follow directions and pictures! Can't wait to make one - I love to get crafty!

    • Marian Swift profile image

      Marian Swift 9 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Great hub! The pattern and step-by-step photos are fantastic.

      (Another plus... if I make my own bag, I'm more likely to remember to put it in the car before shopping trips.)

    • B.T. Evilpants profile image

      B.T. Evilpants 9 years ago from Hell, MI

      Nice looking bag, and roomy, too. It should hold a lot of ummm... groceries!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thank you Bob for taking a look and for the kind comment.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

      very useful and well written hub, thanks.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Creativita! Thank you for your kind comments. I'll look into publishing.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      MrM! How are you? What a great idea to not allow the mechants to have plastic bags in their stores. More should follow that sample.

      As for moving to Balgowla Sydney NSW sounds like a great idea. Wish it were that simple...

      thanks for coming for a visit talk to you soon Zsuzsy

    • MrMarmalade profile image

      MrMarmalade 9 years ago from Sydney

      Zsuzsy,

      We have a new shopping opening early 2009 and they have banned plastic bags.

      Grocers, meat shops, Vegetables and clothing. Everyone had to sign up and say they will not allow plastic bags to go out with their clients. No plastic bags. Your bags are going to be come the rage.

      Perhaps you should move to Balgowla Sydney NSW for those extra sales. Who knows you may become Australia's next Millionaire.

      Good luck if you do. Spend it wisely

      Thank you

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks Froggy for visiting and commenting.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 9 years ago from On A Mountain In Puerto Rico

      Great hub Zsuzsy--very good info--you make it so easy!!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Wow Patty! You were quick to find the hub. I just posted it minutes ago. Thanks for your comment. These bags are really super easy to make. I only use these now when I go get my groceries. And they're strong too.

      Regards Zsuzsy

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Brilliant! And attractive as well. We must all make some of these great bags soon. Thumbs Up!