Yes, we know we must go plastic-free at the supermarket – but the price of reusable produce bags is doing little to encourage us.
That’s why we’ve designed the simplest of DIY bags which you can make at home from 99% recycled materials. Best of all, the bag has a double cord closure mechanism which closes the bag in one movement – and keeps it closed!
What you’ll need
- An old or op-shop sourced long sleeved, light-weight top (choose one without a front or back opening, and if you can find a garment made from stretchy fabric, all the better! The top should have a continuous hem – one through which you can thread a safety pin right along it without interruption.
- At least 4 op-shop boot or shoelaces (they don’t have to be matching but at least 2 should be of the longer variety). If you can’t find laces, cord or ribbon will do.
- An iron
- Marker pen
- Scissors (1 pair which will cut fabric, and another smaller pair of sharp-pointed nail scissors)
- Sewing machine (or needle) and thread
- Insulation tape (two different colours)
What to do
To make the bag
Launder and iron the top.
Using the ruler and marker pen, rule a line across the top at the point where the lower armhole joins the body of the garment.
Snip across this line.
You now have an oblong shaped piece of fabric with a raw edge at one end and a factory-hemmed edge at the other.
Turn the raw edge over to one side of the garment, and press it flat.
Stitch across this turn-down using a sewing machine (we used a zig-zag stitch).
If you don’t have a sewing machine, backstitch using a needle and thread.
Turn the bag so the seam is on the inside. Press again.
To make the double cord closing mechanism
Using your sharp-pointed nail scissors, snip open the seam at each side of the factory-hemmed edge (the openings need only be large enough to allow a safety pin to pass through).
Attach one end of a long lace to the safety pin. Thread the lace in one hole, through the factory-edged hem, and back out through the same hole.
Knot the ends of the lace together. Seal off the ends of the lace with a small piece of insulation tape to make a tag.
Repeat this procedure with the second long lace, inserting it through the second hole on the factory-edged hem, and sealing it off with a different coloured insulation tape tag.
To close the bag tightly, pull on each tag.
Don’t stop there!
If the sleeves of your garment have continuous factory-edged hems, use them to make small produce bags, or one long bag for holding all the others you’ll now want to make from other op-shop garments!
Shop at produce outlets which are happy to weigh your reusable bags before you fill them. That way, you’ll be saving money as well as the environment!