Grocery Bags! (an Alter-Sprig blog post)

While I was looking up how to, and then proceeding with, washing my reusable shopping bags, or at least the portion of them currently in circulation (they accumulate, like single socks, or shopping trolleys at the bottom of a steep hill…), my husband kindly suggested that the reasonable thing to do would be to make some. 

I grabbed this idea with both hands and both feet and ran with it (sort of a stumbling run, since I was holding onto that idea…)

So, things I want in reusable shopping bags:

* Washability (since that is what started this whole thing) – I want it to be washable and then look decent afterwards.  And I want it to be throw-in-washer washable, not something fussy. 

* Durability – able to stand up to the sort of shopping run where we get 2 bags each of flour, white sugar, brown sugar, & confectioner’s sugar. And then other stuff. 

* Size – not so big as to be unwieldy, either for me or for the cashiers loading the thing, but big enough to hold an 18-pack of eggs without tipping, or a rotisserie chicken, or that flour & sugar mentioned above.

* Nice – Why bother making something like this if I don’t like the way it looks? No more feeling awkward because half my bags advertise either a liquor/wine/beer place or a business I barely remember giving me the bag. 

* Pocket –  super useful for keys when I don’t have a purse or pockets on me.

* Foldable/packable – one of the things I really like about the store-bought reusable bags is how they fold back down into a nice flat package (at least until they get too rumpled or they’re washed or..)  Some of the good ones have the fold line on the sides pressed in & sometimes even sewn in; not sure I’ll go as far as sewing it in, but it would probably help. Maybe I’ll try it on one. 


Since none of the patterns were everything I wanted, I drafted my own pattern. 

Webbing handles that go all the way around, doubled on the bottom. 

A double layer of fabric on the bottom, with interfacing in between.

A pocket of something I have around the house sewn in between/under the webbing handles on each side, or at least on one side, depending on fabric scraps. 

The bag itself made from mediumweight cotton duck. 

Now… I need to find a place to mail me canvas where the shipping isn’t as much as the product. 

Please note: The below is a planning pattern that I have not tested yet at all.

The idea is to get two bags on one yard of fabric (or one bag on a 1/2 yard).  There’s some left over,  if it’s the 67″ wide stuff from the place I liked a lot until I read their shipping prices, so I may make a tote to hold the folded bags.

3 thoughts on “Grocery Bags! (an Alter-Sprig blog post)

  1. Sounds sturdy! And not unlike the denim-ish bags the co-op I lived at in college had, which put up with a lot of abuse. They were pretty heavy, though.

    I have a couple of commercial nylon bags that I rather like. They wash well; they’re not water proof but they don’t soak up water & get heavy if I have them out in the rain, and they fold up small. They’re probably not nearly as durable as the ones you’re planning, but I haven’t had them long enough to put that to a serious test yet. My previous favorite, a freebie that had a charming owl on it and relatively little advertising text, was made of woven-ish plastic stuff, and folded nicely flat. I don’t think it would’ve gone through the washing machine well, but it wiped down nicely, and when the bottom started to wear I reinforced it with a layer of duct tape. It’s currently in queue for repairs, as some of the seams were starting to fail.

    Best wishes for the bag-sewing project!

    • I have one nylon bag I LOVE (Except the advertising) but a) I’ve actually confused a cashier wit it and b) I don’t think I’m up to replicating it, sadly. It came with a packet of information for the MS drug I didn’t end up going with, and it folds nicely into a zippered packet with an outside pocket, so it looks about pencil bag size until you unzip it.

  2. Whenever I unpack (dependent on whenever I can move, so this will be in months), I will try and uncover the pattern I have for these. It’s a commercial one I have yet to test.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *