Large Grocery Bag Tutorial
Reusable bags are great for grocery shopping. Apart from generating less plastic waste, they also tend to be stronger. They are also very easy to make. The one I make is generous in size, and fully lined. It is also easily customised by changing the length of the strap, added patch or zipped pockets, closing snaps, etc.
The pattern I use was made by measuring out a large rectangle on my cutting board:
I cut it 20″ by 16″. Then at two of the corners I cut out 2.5×2.5″ squares in order to created the boxed corners during constructing. For the handles, I either use webbing, or make the straps myself. I have a few bag patterns requiring straps and I have a few “patterns” made up in different lengths. The one I normally use for this bag is 20″ (and 2.5″ wide) long, but in all honesty, 22″ is a much better length for this size bag.
To make the bag, you need to cut two outside pieces, and two lining pieces. I prefer to use heavier fabrics, including drill, duck, canvas, furnishing fabric. This usually means the bag holds a little shape, without the need for interfacing or wadding. However, if you want something that is going to fold down much smaller, then quilting cotton or poplin would be fine. I usually use calico for the lining.
If making straps, rather than using webbing, then cut 2 pieces of each fabric (4 in total). If you want to add a pocket, then it is best done first, adding outside pockets to the right side of the outside fabric, and inside pockets to the right side of the lining fabric. I usually add a single inside patch pocket, great for car keys.
Once you have added any pockets, sew the lining pieces, right sides together, along the side and bottom (see picture below). Then do the same to the outside fabric pieces. Use a 1cm seam. Don’t sew along the corners in this step.
The next step is to complete the corners. For each corner, you need to bring the bottom seam you have just sewn, to meet the corresponding side seam. It is difficult to describe in words, so take a look at the pictures below. Once you have these edges lined up, sew across with a 1cm seam. I reinforce each end.
Once you have one this to both the outside and lining pieces, then it is time to add the straps. For this bag I have used webbing, so there is no assembly requires for the straps. However, if you are making the straps, then you would sew two strap pieces together, along both of the long sides, with right sides facing. Then turn the strap right side out and press. The ends remain open. Top stitch if desired.
Place the lining, inside out, on a surface. I measure four inches from the side seam, and this is where I secure the strap. Make sure the strap isn’t twisted! When I use webbing I finger press the strap into an appropriate, untwisted configuration, prior to setting it into the bag.
Pin the straps in place. You need to have both straps set into the lining of the bag. You can baste these if you want. Next up, you place the outside of the bag (right side out) into the lining. To make sure you have done it right, check that the right sides of the bag pieces are facing each other. Pin around the top of the bag.
Next, sew around the top of the bag, but be sure to leave a gap for turning. If you don’t leave a large enough gap, the bag will rip when you try to turn it. In this step, if I am using webbing, I tend to backstitch over the straps for extra strength.
Turn the bag out. You will not just be turning out the outer bag fabric, but also the lining. And you will end up with something that looks like this:
Push the lining to the inside of the bag. Along the top of the bag, press, and topstitch. And you are done! Here is another one I have made (my sister claimed this one the moment she saw it):