Earth Day is tomorrow, what are you doing to celebrate? Last year around this time, we were living in California and the county passed a ban on plastic shopping bags. If you’ve never thought about taking your own bags to the grocery store (or Target, and everywhere else you go) you’ll know the deer-in-the-headlights look that came across my face since I never had before.
So as the day of the ban approached, I had to do some research to find a reusable bag that would work with my new need AND the way I operate (i.e. I forget everything).
I hate the flat-bottomed reusable bags because even though they fold up, they’re still pretty bulky. And if they’re bulky, I’m not going to carry them. I just won’t. So those were out. And anything outside of what I was already packing/taking was not going to work for me either.
Then I ran across Baggu reusable bags. They are lightweight, washable, have a little pouch, and they’d fit in my purse without disrupting my life. They wouldn’t even be wadded up in the bottom because the little pouches are flat. Perfect! Except that I’m a cheapskate. Nine dollars a bag ($7 if you buy 3 or more) just wasn’t going to work for me.
But I had nylon rip-stop in my stash and I knew they were fashioned after a grocery bag so I went and found a good-sized bag and started deconstructing.
Then, after making a couple, I decided I wanted a larger version. So I made a few more. And I love them. They’ve been to the beach, the library, grocery stores, served as picnic baskets, held trash, transported “accident” clothes, and so much more. And weekly, they contain all the little yogurt cups in my grocery basket to deter my 2-year-old from opening them mid-store and dumping yogurt on all the rest of the groceries.
You can’t hurt these things. They hold tons of weight, they’re water-resistant, and when they’re dirty, you toss them in the wash. They fold (or stuff) into tiny pouches that stay in my purse and don’t add any weight. Basically, I forget they’re there until I need them (which happens often) and they fit perfectly into my life.
So now that I’ve gone on and on about these functional and awesome reusable bags, would you like to make some?
Here are the dimensions I used:
Big Bag: 22″ wide x width of fabric (folded); 3-1/2″ gussets; 12″ cutout depth
Small Bag: 18″ wide x 20″ (folded); 2-1/2″ gussets; 6″ cutout depth
Baggu-Style Resuable Bag Tutorial
- Cut your ripstop to the desired bag width. My big bag was 22″ x the width of the fabric and the little bag was 18″ x 40″ (so 20″ when it’s folded).
- With your rip-stop folded in half with the selvages together, follow the cut drawing below, making your cuts on the FOLDED edge. For the big bag, the cutout depth should be 12″ deep. For the little bag, make the cutout depth 6″ Set aside the center cutout piece–we’ll make a little pouch out of it at the end.
- Sew the bag sides from the bag bottom to the bottom of the handles. I used French seams to make them stronger and more durable.
- Once the side seams are in, create gussets in the bag sides by pushing the side seams in 3-1/2″ from each side (for the big bag, 2-1/2″ for the small bag) and pinning them in place. If it doesn’t make sense, just check out a grocery bag, and you’ll see what I mean. Then sew your bottom seam, reinforcing it for a stronger seam. Once again, I used French seams.
- Zigzag around the exposed edges so you don’t get any minor fraying and to keep things looking nice. I used a contrasting thread on some of mine just because. I also folded the handles in half width wise and sewed across to keep them folded. This isn’t necessary, but it does make it easier to fold.
- Now take the center cutout from step 2 and cut out a smaller rectangle about 1/4 the width of your bag. Fold the bottom up and the top down, overlapping them. Now sew up the side seams, and flip your pouch inside out. Done!
This bigger pouch actually has 3 big reusable bags in it, and the smaller pouch has a small bag in it. The pouch size can really depend based on what you wanted. I wanted my big bags all in one for grocery shopping, so that made more sense for me. But you can see how small they are.
Now pop your reusable bags in your purse, and you’re ready for whatever life throws at you!