Updated: Apr 5, 2021
You can do something simple to help the environment that will provide you with long-term results by making and using these produce bags.
In this example, I used beautiful voile curtain fabric that I picked up at an estate sale in Montecito, California several years ago. Rather than purchasing new fabric, look at what you already have on hand. The key is that it should be lightweight. An old pillowcase, shirt, or other fabric would work well. Remember, the key is to keep rubbish out of landfills, so use what you already own.
By using what you already own, that you were planning on tossing in the bin or donating to an op shop, you are making an immediate difference. Did you know that Op Shops dispose of most clothing and linens they receive because they are not resalable? You actually may be costing the charity money rather than helping them out when you donate a piece of clothing.
If made correctly, these produce bags should last for years of use. If you go to the grocery store three times per week and purchase 3 produce items in every shop, you will be reducing 468 plastic bags in a single year!
The only disadvantage of reusing bags is they can harbour bacteria, so you need to wash your produce before eating it and you should toss the bags into the wash after using them.
So, if you are ready to get started, you will need to have a pair of fabric scissors, thread, and a sewing machine ready to go. These only take around 5 minutes to make from start to finish, so let's get started.
You will need:
Measuring tape or measuring mat
fabric clips, binder clips or pins
1. Cut your fabric depending on the size of your chosen bag size. These are only approximate sizes. don't let this hold you back. Use the fabric that you have to maximise your dimensions. Just remember that any excess fabric will add incremental weight to your produce when you check out.
Large is approximately 45cm x 55cm
Medium is 30cm x 35cm
Small is 20cm x 25cm
2. Use fabric clips, pins, or binder clips to keep your fabric together, with the pretty side facing inward and the dull side on the outside.
3. Stitch 3 sides of your bag together using the guide that is on your sewing machine.
4. If your fabric frays where strands will shed, then go around the bag one more time with a zigzag stitch, just along the ends.
5. Some people like to press the seam allowance flat, but it really isn't necessary unless you are a perfectionist. Instead, go back to that open section of your bag and fold it over by around 5 cm. As a guide, I normally use my thumb and grab both seams and fold it down by my thumb width.
6. Starting midway between the two seams, stitch along the loose side of the bag so it attaches to the other side, creating a casing for your cord. Be sure to backstitch for 2 or 3 stitches both at the beginning and end. Leave a 3cm hole open.
7. Cut a cord 3x the length of the bag. Tie each side of the cord so the fraying will be kept to a minimum.
8. Put a safety pin through one end of the cord. Then, thread the cord through the casing until you come out of the other end.
9. Tie both ends together if you would like to keep it from getting out of the casing.
If you would prefer to purchase ready-made bags, you can get them here in my store.