Do you need an easy reusable shopping bag pattern? I never have enough of these fabric bags, so I wrote up this tutorial for you.
I’ve got a ton of Valentine’s Day stuff.
Why I Love This Easy Reusable Shopping Bag Pattern
I have a love affair with pink. As you can tell by the site. One of the reasons why I must love Valentine’s Day so much. 🙂 So for this fabric shopping bag, I used pink fabric and love designs to make this a fantastic Valentine’s Day bag. And since it’s quilted, it will help keep your stuff cold.
This pattern only uses four fat quarters and some quilt batting, so it is also economical as well as being just cool. You don’t have to make it into the “quilt” version if you don’t want. (The quilt version just means that it has a layer of batting.) Just omit the batting.
These bags are very quick to sew up. Once I figured out the pattern, I whipped a few up in like 20 minutes each. If you want to make Christmas-themed grocery bags, they would be make great gifts.
- What Fabrics Are Best for Making Reusable Shopping Bags? When choosing fabrics for your reusable shopping bag, you want durability and washability. Cotton canvas, denim, and heavyweight polyester are excellent choices. These fabrics withstand regular use and are easy to clean. Also, consider using upcycled materials like old curtains or tablecloths for an eco-friendly option. The key is to pick a fabric that’s sturdy enough to handle groceries but light enough to fold up compactly.
- Can I Customize the Size of My Bag? Absolutely! The beauty of making your own bag is the ability to tailor it to your needs. If you often shop for bulkier items, consider increasing the dimensions. Just remember to adjust all measurements accordingly, including the handles and any batting or interfacing you’re using. It’s a good idea to sketch out your adjusted pattern on paper first to visualize the changes.
- How Can I Make My Bag More Durable? To enhance durability, consider double-stitching the seams or using a heavier thread. Adding a layer of interfacing or quilt batting between fabric layers can also provide extra sturdiness and help the bag maintain its shape. Reinforcing the area where the handles attach to the bag with extra stitching or a patch of fabric can prevent tearing from heavy loads.
- What’s the Best Way to Attach Handles for Strength? For strong handles, sew them onto the bag with a box stitch pattern – a square with an X inside. This method distributes the weight more evenly and reduces strain on the fabric. Ensure the handles are long enough to wrap around the bottom of the bag or are anchored well inside the bag’s seams for added strength.
- Can I Add Pockets or Compartments to My Bag? Yes, pockets or compartments are a great addition for organization. You can add simple patch pockets inside or outside the bag. For something more secure, consider a zippered pocket. Remember to add these before you assemble the bag’s main pieces. Clear vinyl can be a good material for inner pockets, as it allows you to see the contents easily.
- How Can I Make My Bag Waterproof? To waterproof your bag, use a fabric liner like oilcloth, vinyl, or a waterproof canvas. You can also treat natural fabrics with a waterproofing spray. If you’re using a liner, sew it into the bag as you would the main fabric, ensuring that the waterproof side faces inwards.
- What’s the Best Way to Care for My Reusable Shopping Bag? Most fabric bags can be machine washed in cold water and air-dried. Avoid hot water and high heat drying as they can shrink or warp the fabric. For bags with batting or interfacing, gentle cycles are best. Spot cleaning works well for minor stains. Always check the care requirements of your chosen fabric before washing.
- Can I Add Insulation to Keep Items Cold? Yes, adding insulation can transform your bag into a cooler bag, ideal for perishables. Use materials like insulated batting or foam. Sew this layer between your outer fabric and lining, and consider a waterproof liner to prevent leaks.
- How Do I Ensure My Bag Folds Up Neatly for Storage? To make your bag foldable, choose a lightweight fabric and avoid bulky seams or excessive reinforcement. You can also sew a button and loop or attach a Velcro strap to keep the bag folded. Some people make a separate pouch to store the bag when not in use.
- Any Tips for Beginner Sewers Attempting This Project? If you’re new to sewing, start with a simple design and sturdy, easy-to-handle fabric. Read through the entire pattern before beginning and don’t rush. Practice sewing straight lines and turning corners on scraps first. Remember, it’s okay to make mistakes – they’re part of the learning process!
- 4 fat quarters of any fabric that’s awesome
- embroidery thread
- iron-on batting
- sewing machine, thread, etc.
Start by ironing your fat quarters.
Cut the edges straight.
I like to line up all four fat quarters and rotary cut on my mat. I chose two pink fat quarters for the outside of the bag, and two white fat quarters for the inside.
Cut all four sides.
Cut 7 inches from the long end.
You should have an 18×14 piece and a 18×7 piece.
From the end of the 18×7 piece (the long end), cut two pieces, each 2 ½” wide.
You should cut from the 18 inches. You now should have an 18×14 piece, an 13×7 piece, and two 2½ x7 piece.
Turn the 13×7 piece and cut to your desired width (on the short end).
Keep in mind that you will have a seam allowance. This piece is for your handle. I liked a narrow handle, so I cut 1 ½ inches wide. You might like a wider handle. You can discard the excess of the handle (the part you didn’t want to use).
You should now have a bunch of pieces.
Sew the smaller pieces together.
For the 2 ½ wide pieces, sew on the long edge (along the 7 inches). Use a straight stitch.
For the handle, sew along the short end.
Time to do some ironing!
First, start by opening all the seam allowances. You should now have 4 shorter pieces, each made up of the 2 ½x7 rectangles. Two of those should be a color, and two of those should be white.
You should also have four handle pieces. Two of those pieces should be a color, and two of those should be white.
You also want to iron about an inch at the top of your largest rectangles, the ones that will make up the bag.
Sew the short pieces together.
Make sure to backstitch at the seam for some added strength. Do the white ones too.
Iron the seams open.
You should now have two pieced-together rectangles.
Iron on the batting to the color pieces.
You should cut the batting smaller than the pieces to adjust for the seam allowance. Basically, you do not want to have batting inside of the seams. This isn’t an exact process, though, so no need to measure out the batting unless you want to.
The four pieces together, forming the bag bottom.
The bag body.
Sew the bottom together.
Sew the right sides together. You can sew with the batting on the top, or you can flip around and sew on the white side if it makes it easier. Sew all four sides.
Remember to leave an opening, though.
Cut the corners.
Turn inside out.
I like to use a chopstick to get the corners. (You can’t see too well in my picture, but I have a green chopstick.)
Iron and then sew along the entire edge.
This will sew the edge opening closed. Don’t worry too much if this piece isn’t perfect. It’s going to be the bottom of the bag and no one will ever see it. Depending on your seam allowance, it also might be bigger than your bag bottom. Just cut the corners of the bag (you will see in a little bit what I mean) larger.
Sew the handles together.
I fold the edges over like so.
And then sew along the long edges (keeping the short edges open). I stop a few inches from the end, flip the piece over, and sew the side closed. You don’t have to do that, but I find it easier than worrying about the little fold on the short end. Also, do you see the batting?
You can cut the excess if you’d like.
Turn inside out.
I use a safety pin and feed it through the tube. It’s pretty tricky to flip it inside out. Always takes me a while!
If you want, you can also make four bias strips. Then, you would sew (wrong sides together) a color bias strip and a white bias stripe. If you do this, you do not need batting.
Sew the handles on the white fabric on the wrong side.
The side that you now see on the wrong side will be the color facing your bag. I liked having the white show for contrast. But you can do whatever you want.
Sew the handles onto the bag.
Turn the stitch setting to a zig-zag.
Sew a rectangle.
Sew the bag body.
Do for the white part and the color part. Sew with the right sides facing together. Still with a zig zag stitch!
Rotary cut the corners at a 45-degree angle.
Remember earlier how I could say you could make this bigger? I measured 2 inches on each side. You can measure 3 or even 4 inches if you want a bigger bottom.
Sew the angle.
Still using a zig zag stitch for strength.
The bag is starting to look really good! (I turned the color piece right side out.)
With your embroidery floss, quilt a design into the color piece (both sides of the bag).
You can also quilt before sewing the two sides together. I did that the first time I made a bag, but I ended up not liking where the design was. So this time, I quilted after.
On the other side, I used disappearing ink instead of a quilting frame.
They came out really good!
Pin and sew the two bag parts together.
Pin at the handles and at the seams.
Start at a seam.
Make sure to backstitch at the handles and seams!