I’ve been putting off this project for a long while now, which is so silly! For quite some time now I’ve needed a few new reusable shopping bags to bring along with me to the grocery store and whatnot. I have a few of the store-bought kind that were given to me as prizes, promotions, etc., but I really needed something a lot bigger to fully round out my collection and handle some of the bigger things I buy.
I don’t know why I put off making one for so long, seeing as how I had plenty of fabric and it would have gone quickly. But I finally decided no more procrastinating. I figured if I was going to take the project seriously I would take the bag a bit more seriously too. The main body of the bag is quilting cotton reinforced with some quilt batting, but the sides and bottom are vinyl for extra strength and so I don’t have to worry about the cotton getting dirty. The handles go all the way down the side of the bag so they’re held on strongly, and they’re extra wide so they don’t cut into your shoulder when you’re carrying something heavy. I’ve found that this thing can tackle even the biggest jugs of milk or detergent that I buy from the wholesale club :B
Materials & Tools:
• 1 yd. of light to medium weight fabric for outer bag (I used quilting cotton)
• 1/2 yd. of complementing vinyl
• 3/4 yd. of non-directional or 1 1/4 yds. of directional lightweight fabric for lining
• 1/2 yd. of cotton quilt batting
• 1/3 yd. of 45” wide light to medium-weight fusible interfacing
• Matching sewing thread
• Basic sewing tools (sewing machine, scissors, iron, needles, pins, fabric marker, seam ripper)
Before you begin:
1. Print out the project pattern here
2. Assemble the pattern pieces, see the page here for more help
3. Lay out the pattern pieces on your fabric and quilt batting and cut them out (save the interfacing for step 3)
4. Mark the fabric pieces with the markings from the pattern
1. Before adding anything else we need to make the front pocket for the bag. Take your pocket piece and fold it in half widthwise with wrong sides together. Top stitch the edge of this fold, not only for looks but it really helps vinyl stay in place much more than any ironing could do.
2. Baste this to the front of your bag. The front of your bag should consist of one bag front piece with its corresponding batting piece (for extra heft). Treat those two layers as one and baste the pocket along the sides and bottom while centered along the bottom edge of the front.
3. Next up are the handles. They’re rather long, really, so to make them all fit within the yardage you’ll need to cut three handle pieces (as the pattern indicates). Chain them together by sewing together the short edges into one really long strip, then cut the strip in half to make two handles for each side of the bag. Cut out your interfacing now, getting as long of a strip as you can from your interfacing following the pattern, but if you have to chain them together (as the pattern notes indicate), that works too. Iron your fusible interfacing to the center of the handle as shown.
6. To apply the handles to your bag, line it up so it’s centered over the sides of your pocket from step 2. The raw edges should meet at the bottom of the bag front, and the handle should extend over the top of the bag. Pin the handle in place, but only baste it along the bottom, don’t sew it in place just yet. Repeat this with the other side (remember to use a layer of fabric with a layer of batting as your bag back). You won’t have a pocket there, but you can use the pattern guidelines to help you out instead.
7. Next up is to add the bottom of the bag. Line up the vinyl piece along the bottom of the front section, matching up the edges. Sew along this edge, then repeat this with the other side of the vinyl and the back of the bag.
9. Up next is the sides. This lines up with the side of the bag front, starting from the top and ending about 2” into the bottom piece. As long as the top is lined up perfectly you know you’ve got it right.
10. Repeat this with the other side of the bag by bringing up the bag back and lining it up with the other raw edge on the side piece. Line it up from the top down and it should leave a 4” gap at the bottom as shown. When both sides are sewn, I finished it off with more edge stitching.
11. To form the corner, turn the bag inside out and line up the bottom edge of the side with the side edge of the bottom piece. The edges should line up relatively evenly, especially if you flatten them out. Sew along this edge.
12. Onto the lining! The lining is essentially the same as the outside, except assembled a little more simply. Line up the front and back pieces with right sides facing and sew the sides and bottom together, skipping over the corners. Be sure to leave an opening in the bottom for turning right side out later.
14. That completes your lining! Now to add it to the outer bag. Nestle the lining into the outer bag and match up the upper raw edges. Be sure to move the handles out of the way so you have a clear path to sew the upper edge, then sew around the top.
15. Turn the bag right side out through the opening in the lining, then sew the lining closed with either a hand sewn ladder stitch or a machine stitch. Press the top edge nice and crisp. To complete the bag, this is where you finally sew on the handles. Repin the handles so they now go through the lining, and then edge stitch the handles in place going up to the top of the bag. Now your handles are in place and the lining will stay put as well. To complete, do a final topstitch around the upper edge of the bag.
And there you have it! This bag has been more useful than I could imagine! It’s so satisfying to just dump everything I’ve bought during the day inside it and take everything into the house in one trip.
If you do try making the project, I’d love to see it! Send me a photo and I’ll send you exclusive free patterns as a reward!