For last year, one of my goals was to reduce my plastic waste. I extended my goal for this year too, since I still have things to replace or find a less or zero plastic alternative. I wanted produce bags for a while now, but since I don’t have a sewing machine, I had to wait until I got to my parent’s in order to DIY so produce bags. Of course, I could buy them, but I really wanted to make my own.
For those of you who are not familiar with what produce bags are, they are basically fabric bags of different sizes meant to replace the thin plastic bags you would usually get at the grocery store for fruits and veggies. They are a great alternative to plastic bags since they are resistant, can be washed when needed and can also be used to store produce too.
Now, I know that it’s more comfortable to buy a set of reusable bags, but to be honest, I find them quite pricey – and the quality is not usually great. If you are into crafting projects and are looking for some creative ways to recycle some old fabrics, this is your go-to project!
What you will need to DIY your produce bags:
- fabric – I used some raw cotton for my bags, but this can be an amazing recycling product too. If you have old T-shirts, bed sheets or any other piece of fabric that you plan to throw, it can be used for this project
- thread (for the sewing machine)
- measuring tape
- a pencil
- a pair of scissors
- lace – I recommend not using a thick lace, because it will prevent the bags from closing tightly enough
- a safety pin and pins (optional)
This will not be a step-by-step tutorial with exact measurements and so on, because that’s the actual beauty of making these produce bags. You can make them from whatever fabric and whatever size you need.
1. Start by measuring the size of each bag. I recommend to hold the fabric in half, so when you cut it, you’ll have the two pieces for the bag. I had quite a lot of fabric so I ended up with about 16 produce bags of different sizes. Keep in mind that you will lose 2-3 cm of the bag when you’ll sew them, so add those 2-3 extra cm to your measurements.
If you need some inspo about what size to make your bags, I recommend having some small ones for things like nuts and seeds and large ones for large fruits and veggies like bananas or potatoes and you should be good. Smaller produce like beans or cherry tomatoes will fit in the large bag, but if you want more options, definitely go for 3 or 4 sizes – you make them from scratch after all.
2. Cut the fabric according to your marking and sew the edges of the fabric, to prevent it from unraveling.
Depending on how you’ve cut the fabric, some bags will have only two edges to sew, while others will have three (sides and bottom).
3. Turn the bag inside out and sew the edges (and bottom where applicable) of the bag. Leave about 2 cm unsewed on one side – that’s where the lace will be.
4. Here’s probably the most interesting part of this tutorial: how to make the lace holes. Keeping the bag inside out, fold about 2 cm of the top part of the bag. The size depends on how thick the lace is – you want to be able to close and open the bag easily. You can also use some pins to help you keep everything in place. Sew the newly formed fold from one end to another – remember you left 2 cm unsewed at one side of the bag.
5. Measure how long the lace of the bag should be, cut it and using a safety pin, get it through the newly formed top fold of the bag.
Do I really need a sewing machine?
I would say yes. In this way, the produce bags will be more resistant and it’s faster to make them this way.
If you are a sewing master and truly enjoy doing it, by all means, sew them by hand. I’m simply terrible at it and it would take forever to finish one bag.
I’ve been using them for over two months now and they are really handy. They usually get admired by cashiers and they ask me where I got them. They only tricky thing about them is to know which size to use. Because we made 4 different sizes, sometimes I have too many options.
I hope you got some inspiration on how to DIY produce bags and that you’ll start reducing your plastic waste too. Do you use produce bags?
If you’re looking for other ways to reduce plastic bags waste, I also made a tutorial about how to make a tote bag.