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Going ‘green’ w/ fabric shopping bags

Crazy K | Posted in Gather For A Chat on

Hi all,

Just wanted to share something.  Nothing new since I know many others have already done similar things.  Hearing that stores may start charging for bags in the future, I decided to get some fabric and start making bags……..for us and for our family.  I found cotton drill (60″ wide) at JoAnnETC that sells for $3.99/yd and w/ my 40% off coupon that makes some cheap fabric!  I got two bags out of the width and cut it 1.25/yd. in length.  Stitched across the bottom at the 3″ mark to give it a 6″ bottom and put handles of webbing on.  Very easy and quick………added a small embroidery for identification and viola……..a tough re-usable bag.  It ended up being just about the same size as a paper grocery sack.  I figure I’ve got about $3 per bag……..not bad since they should last for a very long time and when dirty, they can go in the wash.

Well………..so much for pictures……..did batteries in camera!  Guess my description will do.



  1. Crazy K | | #1

    Got my batteries charged.........pix aren't great.  A photog I am NOT!! :)

    Thanks for looking............

    1. sewslow67 | | #2

      Got my batteries charged ...

      That's great CK; now how about charging my batteries? ...since I seem to be even slower than normal these days.  giggle

      Now then, those are very classy bags; love the embroidery and they look very sturdy.  When I get done sewing for this reunion (I have to get started first though, before I can be finished), I'm going to follow your lead and make a few for us and for my kids and their families.  Thanks for sharing a terrific idea! 

      PS:  I have a cousin in St. Paul and another one in Iowa.  I guess you all have had some pretty bad weather these past few months, eh?  Iowa family says floods have been horrific!

      Edited 8/4/2008 6:26 pm by sewslow67

      1. Crazy K | | #3

        Thanks!  I think it's a fun project (goes fast for my instant gratification thing!) and they will be useful, too. 

        St. Paul is dry........very dry.  We need rain badly.  Iowa really got nailed.  We drove through one of the bad storms coming back from Texas in early June.  Narrowly missed a twister.......we actually saw it form a ways east and we were headed north with nowhere to go so kept on  moving........whew!  Too close for comfort.  They had the bad flooding after that.  They just keep getting hit down there.

        I know what you mean about starting things so you can finish!  I'm a great one for that......I put things off and then feel pressured!  Silly me!

        Have a great day!


    2. MargieT | | #5

      I love your bags.  Hope you don't mind them being copied!

      1. Crazy K | | #6

        I don't mind at all........in fact, I'm flattered! :)  Guess that's why I decided to post it........figured that I came up with something that others may wish to do, too!  not a unique idea for sure, but just a different twist! ha



        Edited 8/4/2008 8:24 pm ET by Crazy K

    3. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #7

      Kay, I think I am going to nominate you as Favorite Bag Lady. You have done it again. You keep making these adorable, great bags. Cathy

      1. Crazy K | | #8

        Oh......that's a good one!  Glad you like them.


    4. damascusannie | | #9

      Really nice! I've been thinking that I need to make something like this, too. I HATE those nasty cheap plastic bags and the thought of PAYING for them really gets my goat! They rip so easily and even though we use them to line our small wastebaskets, we still throw an awful lot away because they pile up so quickly. Some sturdy fabric bags just make a whole lot of sense.

      1. Crazy K | | #10

        Hi Annie,

        When I read that you were in Hayward (?) one weekend I was so wishing we could go.  We had our 5 yr. old grandson and I didn't think he'd do too well at a quilting demo!!  It would have been sooo much fun to 'see you in the flesh'!  If you're ever doing that again, I hope you'll post.  Maybe next time I can get away......I'm in MN but it's close enough to make a nice 'day trip'.

        Yes, paying for bags to throw away just doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.  We, too, try to recycle but how many can one use??  We do have stores that will take them so we save up large bags full and turn them in but heck,  a few bucks and a little thread and I can make bags that will work even better!!!

        I bought the entire bolt (well, 19 yds that was left on there!) so I will have lots and lots of bags floating around! ha ha

        Take care...............


        1. damascusannie | | #11

          Oh you should have brought him--he could have sewn on the handcrank machines with me. I do that all the time with kids. I have an e-mail newsletter that I send out every month, telling when and where I'll be and when I'm holding classes and retreats. If you'd like to be on the list just say the word. I will be demo-ing at the Heritage Center in New Richmond, WI the end of September--that's nice and close, less than an hour from St. Paul.

          1. Crazy K | | #12

            Oh, yes, I would like to know about that one.  I'm not a quilter and don't know if I have the patience even but I like to watch and look at the beautiful work.  Let me know, please, what those dates are and I hope it works.  DH has a class reunion in Iowa the weekend of the 20th so I hope it isn't that weekend.

            I'll send you an email thru the forum and then you'll have my email address.  Just don't care to post it........not sure if it matters but I get enough 'junk mail'!!

            Watch for a message......


          2. damascusannie | | #13

            It's Sunday, September 28, just the one day. The site is really cool, a recreated Wisconsin village built on an old farmsite, right in the city of New Richmond. They usually put me in the Italianate house on the site and I demo some free-motion quilting and let folks test drive some old handcrank machines. I go in costume and I'm hoping to have time to make a new shirtwaist blouse to wear with one of my skirts. Otherwise, I might go Civil War era.

          3. Crazy K | | #14

            Thanks so much!  I'm going to mark the calendar!  Sounds like you have a fun time.


          4. damascusannie | | #15

            I didn't mention it, but there are other demonstrators, a craft fair, and a flea market/thrift store in the old barn. There's lunch available on the grounds so it's a fun way to spend an afternoon.

          5. Crazy K | | #16

            I'm looking forward to it!!  Yaaahoooo!  Thanks!

    5. Lilith1951 | | #17

      Your bags are great!  I bought some last summer and paid a ridiculous price, but I was too busy to sew them at the time and wanted to start using cloth instead of plastic right away.  Wouldn't this be a great project for people with kids who like to embellish things?  Give 'em some fabric paint pens or anything that will withstand some heavy duty use and let them decorate bags to help the family go green.  Little ones will make simple designs and older ones can get more serious about it, but they would all gain by being involved in it.

      I love how you embellished yours with the herbal designs.....very classy.  Don't think I'd be brave enough to make them in white though!  I've got dull blue, black and sage hemp bags.  They get used a lot before they go in the washer (unless something leaks and makes them messy.)  Mine are also about the size of paper grocery bags and they hold so much more than those flimsy little plastic ones.  Yay for cloth bags!

      1. Crazy K | | #18

        Oh......I love your idea about letting the kids paint on them.  Maybe some of the Christmas gifts will be plain bags and fabric paint pens.......??????  A couple of the families have kids just the right ages to really get into that!

        I was torn as to what to put on them and I had the toile herb designs and I thought I would do some with that.  I, too, like the results.  Just gives them a little special 'touch'.

        Thank for the idea!


        1. sewslow67 | | #25

          Hi CK and Everyone!  To play on that idea of kids and crayons/paint etc. it made me think of the bag I bought from the a design group that was making $$$ for charity.  They either made or bought their bags, and then got together and painted designs on them.  I still have mine, although it's been washed a lot, but here's a photo just to give you an idea of what they did. 

          The photos didn't turn out as good as the bag looks, because they don't show the paint "texture" ...you know, those thicker paints that gives the design dimension.  At least it will give you another idea of what the kids might want to do.  Back to the sewing room for me.  Enjoy the weekend!  ;-)

          Edited 8/8/2008 8:03 pm by sewslow67

          1. rodezzy | | #33

            Nice bag, great project for kids.  Good idea.  Seems like lots of fun to do.

          2. sewslow67 | | #34

            Thanks, rodezzy.  I just found a darling "picture" one of my granddaughters made when she was about six-years old (she is now sweet 16), so I've decided to use one of those transfers from crayon to canvas and make a bag for her to give to her little cousin - a six-year old girl. 

            I think they would both have fun with that, and it might give the older child the impetus to sew more.  She is very creative and, once given a bit of encouragement, runs with the idea.  I did something similar with jewelry making with her and she now makes beautiful beadwork jewelry and even sells some of it.

          3. rodezzy | | #35

            Wow, selling jewelry.  Industrous young lady.  You must be a good teacher.  Another good project begins Hurray!

          4. sewslow67 | | #36

            Thanks, RO ...; I don't know how good of teacher I am, but I do have enthusiasm for creative projects.  Her mother taught her how to knit (which I no longer do), and she has made some lovely things.  I'm just thrilled that some of the handwork that we've all enjoyed so much is finally being passed on to our children. 

            My grandsons knit as well ...but haven't gotten the sewing bug yet, but they do all enjoy cooking.  My son is a gourmet cook and started learning at my knee when he was about seven.  By the time he was 12, he was cooking entire meals, and making the most delicious French bread (and a menu cooked in wine) along with it.  Yummy!  I was taking all the International Gourmet cooking classes offered for several years, and he just seemed to follow the same path.  Those were such fun years with the kids.  We always had some sort of projects going.

          5. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #38

            I think that is what I miss most about not having little people around so much anymore. All the fun learning projects. I didn't get to have the niece and nephews come visit this summer, it just isn't going to work out. I have the project we were going to do all ready, and I am not sure who is more disappointed, them or me =( . We were going to sew PJ pants. This was going to be the first time they were all going to be old enough. I am going to start them all on knitting this winter. Up till now, they have all helped me knit something, but now it is time to start and finish their own project. Cathy

    6. rodezzy | | #19

      Great bags.

    7. Josefly | | #20

      Love your embroidered grocery bags. I'm going to try to copy yours. The "non-disposable" grocery bags I've bought are not launderable - made from that porous, papery-like stuff - and the only one that was made of canvas just split apart at the seam after only the 2nd laundering! I can't embroider mind as you did, but I think some stamped designs might make a good substitute.

      1. Crazy K | | #21

        Oh, I think stamping would make a GREAT substitute!  Good luck and have fun!  I'm going to get a bunch more cut so I can embroidery as I have time and then assemble.  At least with stamping, you can do it either before or after.  I did the first embroidery after the bag was done and it was a bit more cumbersome........flat is easier!!


      2. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #22

        I think I would stamp mine PUT ME BACK IN THE CAR. tee hee Cathy

        1. Crazy K | | #23

          Oh.......you crack me up!!  That's a good one.........and not a bad idea either since I tend to forgot more things than I remember !!!  :-)


          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #24

            It would also remind my darling family members who tend to remove them from the car when they go out because they take up too much room in the back seat or trunk of the car. I do not see what the problem is. Other than my memory, that is. Cathy

          2. Josefly | | #26

            "...I do not see what the problem is. Other than my memory, that is."THAT's exactly what the problem is. My memory. Doesn't matter if the bags get put back in the car or left at the house. Sometimes I actually think, as I get out of the car to go into the grocery store, "Now what was it I wanted to remember?" Then as I go into the check-out line with my cart, I remember. The bags.I'm getting better though...the habit is developing. One day I took an assortment of bags into the store, and the person in line in front of me turned to congratulate me on using them, and then the clerk and bagger both berated me for bringing another store's non-disposable bag to their store! Mind you, I had their store's bag as well, and only one from another store. That's another reason to sew our own bags.

          3. Ralphetta | | #27

            My local store has a hand-written sign taped to the front door..."Did you remember to bring your reusable bag?" It was a great reminder. After running back to my car a couple of times I think I'm in the habit of grabbing it before I get out of the car.

          4. Crazy K | | #28

            My store doesn't have a sign.........maybe a post-it note stuck to my forehead.......or a tattoo on my hand???  I'm making bags and determined to remember to use them but it will take some time for re-training.......I'm already prepared for that!

          5. Ralphetta | | #29

            I'm laughing at the post-it on your forehead because I've been known to put notes on the door to the garage and even on the steering wheel...and still totally ignore them!

          6. Crazy K | | #30

            Now I'm laughing because that would be me!!!!!!!!!

          7. Ralphetta | | #42

            Welll, guess who started into the store tonight and was reminded by the sign "Did you bring your reusable bag?" How many months is it going to take for me to remember? It was in the passenger seat, less than 2 feet from me.

          8. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #31

            I guess I am the mouthy kind as I would have replied to the cashier and packer that at least I was shopping in their store, and if the other bag bothered them, I could take my business elsewhere! Snippy comments like that I always report to managers. That type of behavior loses customers, and 10 to 1 the manager would not be happy to hear his staff telling customers stuff like that. As a retail clerk, I would have been raked across the coals for a comment like that! The stores where I shop are usually happy to wait for me while I run out to the car and get the bags I have forgotten to bring in. They have even gone ahead and unpacked my cart and rung it through. It is nice in a small town to have service like that! Sometimes the girls at the cash will ask as I come in if I remembered my bags! Cathy

    8. dressed2atee | | #32

      Love your bags....I plan on suggesting this as a "green" bag challenge at my ASG meeting!

  2. cycler1729 | | #4

    Those are really beautiful! 

    And they're a great idea for something to sew when you don't really need any new clothes (but want to keep sewing).


  3. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #37

    Kay, what other types of fabric would you suggest would be suitable for grocery bags? I keep looking at my stash of odds and ends and wondering if some of the lighter stuff would work or if I would be better to line it? Your expert opinion would be appreciated. Cathy

    1. Crazy K | | #39

      I used cotton drill and it worked up beautifully and at $3.99/yd it wasn't expensive.....plus I had a 40% off coupon!! ha :-) ( I get two bags from 1.25 yards.  The fabric is 60 in. wide so my bags are 22h by 30 w and then I do a 6" flat bottom by stitching across the bottom corners at 3" from the point. I hope that makes sense!).   I used webbing for the handled......1 yd makes both handles.  And for the shopping bags, I don't line.  I did line my tote bags but they're smaller.

      I have some fabric in my stash, too, that I've been eyeing........some lightweight home dec. stuff that I've had forever and no longer have a place for it.  Some of the denims, twills, probably trigger would work nicely I would think.  Lots of folks make bags from lightweight cotton but I can't imagine that holding up real well.  maybe their intent is to use them till the fabric starts to fail and then make new????  Guess that's a possibility.  I want to make for gifts as well as our own use so I want them to last.  That's just my humble opinion on the matter.  Perhaps others have more experience on this than I do as I just started making them.  I do have a tote bag that I've had forever and it's made from a twill type fabric.........very sturdy.

      hope this helps.....sorry to ramble on so.....


      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #40

        The fabrics I am thinking of using are heavier cottons, drapery or upholstery weight, home dec samples I have had forever, and some leftover scraps that I was thinking of layering over each other and stitching down like a crazy quilt, just for fun. I guess if I use them and they don't work for long, I won't use them again next time. Cathy

        1. Crazy K | | #41

          Oh.......that sounds like fun and I think they would work nicely.  The only ones that might not are any that fray terribly.  The seams could pull loose from weight but like you say.......use them and if they don't last, you'll know for the next time!   Have fune doing them!  Your patchwork idea sounds adorable!


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