How to Sew a Durable, Reusable Grocery Bag

  • 01 of 08

    Make a Reusable Grocery Tote

    Sew a Durable DIY Grocery Bag
    Mollie Johanson

    Instead of choosing paper or plastic next time you're shopping, use your own DIY cloth grocery bags! They're easy to sew, eco-friendly and they last for years. Plus you can make them in your own style. 

    Strong utility fabrics, such as canvas or denim, work best for a grocery tote. But that doesn't mean they have to be boring! Look for bold prints online so you have lots of choices. 

    This is a durable bag, but as with any kind of grocery bag, try not to overload it with too many heavy...MORE items all at once. Make several bags so you can carry the weight evenly.

    Now, get ready to sew some eco-friendly totes!

    Updated by Mollie Johanson

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Materials Needed

    Reusable Grocery Bag Materials
    Mollie Johanson
    • 1 yard 45-inch-wide durable fabric such as canvas or denim. 
    • 1 yard 45-inch-wide cotton fabric for the lining. 
    • Thread
    • 4 feet of 1-inch-wide cotton webbing
    • Pencil
    • Rotary cutter, ruler, and cutting mat
    • Pins
    • Sewing machine

    Note: Always preshrink the fabric so it doesn't shrink the first time you need to wash the bag. 

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  • 03 of 08

    Cutting and Marking

    Grocery Bag Cutting Guide
    Mollie Johanson

    Cutting

    Cut 1 (37x14-inch) piece of both the outer and lining fabrics

    Cut 2 (15x8-inch) pieces of both the outer and lining fabrics

    Cut 2 (24-inch) pieces of webbing for the straps

    Marking

    Mark the centers of the 37-inch edges on the body of the bag.

    Mark the centers of the 8-inch edges of the side pieces.

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  • 04 of 08

    Sew the Sides of the Bag

    Sew the Sides of the Bag
    Mollie Johanson

    Pin the right sides of one side of the bag together, matching the center markings of the body of the bag and the sides of the bag.

    Sew down the sides and bottom of the bag using a 3/8-inch seam allowance. Repeat on the other side of the bag. For extra strength, backstitch the bottom corners.

    Repeat the same process to sew the lining together, this time using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. 

    Trim the corners to reduce bulk.

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  • 05 of 08

    Finish the Seam Allowances

    Finish the Seams With Pinking or Zig Zag
    Mollie Johanson

    Apply a seam finish to the outer bag piece to prevent the raw edges from fraying.

    Because the bag has a lining, not all fabrics require this step. But if you see any kind of fraying as you work, take the time to complete this step because it will help your bag last longer

    Trimming with pinking shears is a fast and easy way to do this. You could also zig-zag the edges, use a serger, or apply a sealant.

    Press the seams.

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  • 06 of 08

    Attach the Straps

    Place and Baste the Straps
    Mollie Johanson

    Measure in 3 inches from the side seam on the body of the bag.

    Pin the strap in place with about 1-inch of the end of the webbing extending past the raw edge of the out bag piece.

    Sew across each end of the straps three or four times 1/4" from the edge of the fabric. This acts as basting, but it also helps keep the straps secure.

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  • 07 of 08

    Sew the Lining into the Bag

    Sew the Lining Into the Bag
    Mollie Johanson

    With the outer bag turned wrong-side out and the lining turned right-side out, nest the lining in the outer bag. Pin around the raw edges.

    Sew the outer bag and lining together with a 3/8-inch seam allowance. Leave a 5-inch opening on one of the side areas. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.

    Finish the seams as you did the others. 

    Turn the bag right side out through the opening.

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  • 08 of 08

    Top Stitch and Finish the Grocery Bag

    Top Stitch the Bag and Straps
    Mollie Johanson

    Push the lining into the bag and press the top seam to open it fully. Make sure that you press the seam allowance of the opening so it is even. Pin around the top.

    Top stitch around the top of the bag 1/8" from the seam and 5/8" from the seam. 

    Sew a square or rectangle with an X through each strap end to securely hold the straps in place.

    Take your new bag to the market on your next shopping trip and load it up with groceries!