Made by hand: produce bags

Longtime readers of this blog will remember that each holiday season I like to do a little craft, and send it out to those I've worked with that year. Since this year marked the release of What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?, I thought it fitting to make something environmentally friendly.

So this year's project was to make reusable canvas produce bags, to replace the plastic ones we all use at the supermarket. Just think of all the plastic produce bags you might use in a year! I got the idea from browsing, where I've purchased many non-leaching water bottles and travel mugs. Here are the bags they sell.

I decided to make some roughly at those sizes, but with more interesting fabric, which I found plenty of at Ikea. Below are instructions should you like to make your own. I just made this pattern up so feel free to improvise- and I'd love to hear how you change things up!

First, lay out your fabric. If there is a cat sitting on top, remove him.

Next, cut out a rectangle shape with the fabric doubled up (I cut at the folded edge of the fabric, so that the bottom edge of the bag did not need to be stitched). I made bags either 8 x 10" or 13 x 17" roughly, but you could do any size.

Sew a zig-zag stitch along the top two edges of your bag individually, to prevent fraying. Then, on one side of the bag, sew a seam about half an inch in from the edge. Go over those edges with a zig-zag stitch as well.

On the opposite side of the bag, cut into the fabric about half an inch, and three inches down from the top. Fold over the edges in this little section and stitch them down. Then sew along the rest of the side edge, about a half inch in, and straight down from the folded over section. Go over the edges with a zig-zag stitch as you did on the other side.

Fold over the top edge of the bag roughly an inch and a three quarters, and stitch it down.

Turn your bag right side out.

Get some rope or string (I used simple cotton cord from the hardware store).

Once again, remove cat (sheesh):

Cut a length of cord and knot one end. There are a couple ways to thread the cord through the top of the bag- you can run the end with the knot through, nudging it along with your fingers on the outside of the bag, or just attach a safety pin to one end and nudge it through that way. I think the pin is easier. When its all the way through, knot the other end of the cord.

Here is what a finished bag looks like, filled with apples.

I packaged them up by first printing out a simple label...

then tying it around the bag with some twine.

Voila! Finito!