How to make cloth produce bags

Yesterday I mentioned that my newest earth-loving habit is using cloth produce bags at the grocery store. All the wasted plastic was bringing me down, so I’ve started using these cloth bags.

One of the bags is a tiny pillowcase that I no longer needed. The others are antique flour, sugar, and grain sacks that I’ve had forever.  Like this:

I decided to make a few produce bags to demonstrate how easy (and fun!) it is. The great thing about this project is that even the most beginner sewers can easily whip up a few of these bags in an afternoon. You can also use scrap material that you might not otherwise find a use for.

First, cut two pieces of fabric the same size. You can make them whatever size you’d like for a produce bag. No measuring or patterns required. I cut one out and then used it as a pattern for the other piece. If you’re using a linen towel, you don’t even need to cut it.

Next, make a simple rolled hem on the top of each piece. To make a rolled hem, just fold and iron the edge over. And then fold and iron it again, pinning in place. To finish, just sew a simple straight stitch along the inner edge of the fold.

Once you’ve sewn the top hem on both pieces, pin the two pieces of fabric together, wrong-side-out, aligning the edges.

Then, just sew the three sides together with a simple straight stitch. Trim the threads and iron the inside seams open.

Turn it right side out and give it a once-over with an iron. Voila! All done.

I also made this one with a cute puppy towel and some more antique linen fabric.

I couldn’t help but get a little fancy with this one. I added the border along the bottom with a decorative stitch.

If you like these bags, you’ll want to check back tomorrow for your chance to be the new owner of this set!  That’s right. One lucky reader will win all three. Update: Click here to jump to the giveaway.

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9 Responses to How to make cloth produce bags

  1. These are lovely, and I’m inspired to make a few myself.

    I have a number of reusable produce bags that I use, and just yesterday the checker at Safeway wanted to know whether I wanted it to go into one of my reusable grocery bags or not. Umm . . . yes, it’s a small bag of broccoli, and it can go into the bigger bag. Poor guy.


    Katy Wolk-Stanley
    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

    • Lindsay says:

      Hi Katy. Thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, the checkers can get a tad confused by the bags at times, but hopefully they will become more and more the norm as time goes on. I didn’t put any sort of closure on the bags because I figure it makes it easier for the checkers to see what’s inside (and easier to make the bags too!)

    • carmen says:

      This was going to be my question, too! I love how cute the bags are. This is a good way of taking the reusable shopping bags to the next level!

      • Lindsay says:

        Yeah, I’ve been rolling the tops down so they can just glance in and see the produce. I think in Portland more and more people will be doing this. Besides, I like to be a trend setter 😉

  2. MM says:

    Do they weigh the produce with the bag? In my store, we pre-weigh the produce and print out the label. I suppose I could put the label inside the bag.

    Question: Maybe for your question file. I no longer own a clunky Kenmore sewing machine (!). For simple sewing projects like hemming and the kind of things I might be doing, should I be looking at a good used machine or a less expensive new machine?

    PS, I recognize that puppy towel…I think I gave it to you….;-)

    • Lindsay says:

      Yes, they weigh the produce in the bag. I think it might ad a tiny bit of negligible weight, but I’m not too worried about that. You could probably still attach the label to the bag. I imagine it would peel right off the cloth. (It’s too bad you have to print a label… what an added waste of paper!)

      I would recommend a good, new sewing machine. They are not as expensive as you might think. I believe mine was around $200 (although it was a gift from the Mr., so I’m not sure exactly). It was worth the investment for me because I use it all the time. Also, the new ones are sooooo much easier to use than the old ones!

      My concern with a used one is that it may have issues that would make projects very frustrating and require expensive repairs. Perhaps there are places that sell refurbished ones.

  3. stephanie says:

    i love this idea!

  4. Shawna says:

    Those bags are lovely & what a neat idea!

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