With a new year fast approaching, you may have a few resolutions in mind to help kickstart a fresh, happy and healthy lifestyle. At Spoonflower, one of our goals every year is to make a conscious effort to reduce our footprint on Mother Earth. From composting in the office to using non-toxic inks to bring your custom designs to life, each year brings new opportunities to go green. If you’re looking for an easy way to join our efforts, today’s reusable tote bag tutorial featuring our Organic Sweet Pea Gauze™ from Spoonflower team member Gina will put you on the path to environmental responsibility. Not to mention you’ll have a stylish accessory to boot!
Gina: So, my dad has a farm. He grows a ton of seasonal fruits and veggies and anytime I visit him I return home with bags bursting with winter kale, summer blackberries, and even the occasional pumpkin. It’s the best. However, the plastic bags he packs it in are kind of the worst.
But don’t fret, Mother Earth – Spoonflower’s Organic Sweet Pea Gauze is here to save us all from the army of plastic grocery bags trying to take over our pantries, closets and under-the-sink cabinets. It’s the perfect fabric for making breathable, washable, adorable, and most importantly, reusable produce bags that are easy to toss in your car or tote for your next trip to the market.
Bonus: this project is super simple. Quick and easy project + less plastic = happier planet. Everybody wins.
Grab some gauze, and let’s get sewing!
- 1 fat quarter of Organic Sweet Pea Gauze per bag OR for a complete set of bags, you can cut one yard into four rectangles approximately 28” x 18” each
- 1 yd of twill tape, ribbon, or other coordinating tie material per bag – choose a material that measures 1″ wide or less
- Sewing machine and/or serger
- Ruler, scissors, thread, fabric marker, & pins
- Small safety pin
- An episode of your favorite sitcom to keep you company, because that’s about how long this project will take you
Prepare your Materials
Serge or zig-zag stitch the edges of your fat quarter to finish the edges.
A note on pre-washing: Organic Sweet Pea Gauze crinkles in the wash, and generally, washing your gauze after hemming is recommended to account for any shrinkage that occurs. Because exact sizing isn’t super important for this project and a little post-wash shrinkage is okay, I prefer to sew my bags flat and wash them afterward. Learn even more about how to care for your gauze here.
Create your Casing
Place your fat quarter in front of you so that the wrong side is facing up, and the longest edges are facing you. On both of the shorter edges, measure and make a mark 3″ from the top edge.
Next, you’re going to hem the 3″ area you just marked on your short edges so you don’t have any exposed serger threads once your bag is finished. Fold ¼” of the 3″ marked side edge inward. Pin and sew in place. Repeat for the left edge.
From the top edge of your fat quarter, fold a ¼” inward. Pin and sew in place. Next, fold the top hemmed edge down so it’s in line with your 3″ marks. Pin and sew in place to create a 1½” casing for your drawstring.
Create your Bag
Fold your fat quarter in half widthwise, right sides facing. Pin in place, being careful to line up the edges of the casing.
Sew the bottom and side edges together with a ¼” seam, stopping at the edge of your casing. Turn rightside out, and voilá, you have a bag!
Insert your Drawstring
Attach a safety pin to one end of your drawstring material and feed it through your casing.
Knot or fold and stitch the ends of your ties – I prefer to knot them together so I can hang my bags up.
That’s it! My favorite thing about these bags – aside from being the easiest DIY ever – is that you can take them straight from the market (or farm, in my case) to your fridge or pantry. They’ll keep your food dry and safe, and they can be thrown in the wash once they’re empty. If gauze isn’t your thing or you’d like something sturdy for some heartier veggies, give Linen Cotton Canvas or Lightweight Cotton Twill a try.
Be sure to snap a pic of your new produce bags on your next trip to the farmers’ market and #spoonflower!