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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

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


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



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' 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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