Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Re-usable produce bags

When I was visiting my friend Louise earlier this summer, I noticed that she brought with her to the farmer's market some re-usable produce bags.  What a great idea!  I've been using cloth grocery sacks for a long while, but hadn't seen any alternative to the thin plastic bags for produce.  The ones Louise had looked like this; on Amazon, they cost a little more than $2.00 each.  I had quite a bit of polyester sheer voile on hand, so I decided to make some for myself.  These are not nearly as neat looking as the commercial ones, but I don't think my veggies will mind.  Also, I didn't bother putting drawstrings on most of the bags, as I don't usually bother with a twist tie, except for something like a bag of apples.  I used the bags at the grocery store for the first time yesterday, and the clerk didn't blink an eye.  The scanner was able to read the number through the sheer.

In case some of you might like to try making your own, here are the instructions I came up with after a couple of tries:

Here's what a plain finished bag (about 13 x 15") looks like:

And here's one with a tie (I used some nylon ribbon I had on hand):

The fabric I had on hand was 120" wide, so on only a few of the bags I made could I take advantage of the finished selvedge edge.  I will look for 45" material to make more bags.  Here are cutting instructions for 45" fabric (see end of post for note on using 60" fabric):

And here's a sketch of the sewing instructions:

Here's a bag cut, pinned and ready to be sewn.  On this one, the selvedge is at the top:

You do need to make French seams when sewing the edges, as the polyester frays badly in the wash.  But it's very simple.  Sew all around the right and bottom edges, where the pins are in the photo above, using a 1/4" seam.  (The fold is on the left and the opening at the top.)  Then turn inside out, and sew the seam again, using a somewhat larger seam so that the first one is encased.  

The last photo is a close-up of the top edge (here, selvedge), and the French seam, which sticks up a bit.  

No more plastic bags, yay!!  

About cost:  60" fabric would yield 3 bags from 3/4 yd, about $1 per bag.  It looks like 60" may be the narrowest I can get in any case when I go to buy more.  So--the cutting instructions will need to be modified above, so that a third bag will come out of the "waste section."  This middle bag will have no selvedge edge, so the top will need to be hemmed.


  1. I love this idea and will be buying them from amazon. The item is already in my cart awaiting me to complete my research on another item I need to buy. The only downside of these is that if the vegetable (such as lettuce) has recently been misted in the grocery store, then these porous bags obviously won't keep the moisture in. Thanks for introducing me to these!

  2. I've been using these re-usable produce bags regularly and have enjoyed feeling righteous! I still use the store's plastic bags for misted veggies, though. I figured out a way to attach the re-usable produce bags to the handle of the outer-most bag in my nest of big cloth grocery bags. That way I don't forget to take them to the store and use them.