You guys, it’s been so long since I’ve done a non-van related DIY! And I miss it! I have been wanting to do this DIY for a while now but just haven’t gotten around to it until now. Lately, Ben and I have been eating less healthy (fewer veggies, more meals out, etc) and I feel like it has started to affect us; we snack more often, feel less motivated to go to the gym, and could just really use a boost. So I think this DIY is the perfect accessory to encourage us to go to the market and get fresh veggies more often. Plus, it’s summertime which is the best time for fresh veggies so why not enjoy them!
These produce bags were simple to make, use very few materials, and come together quickly (I made all 5 of them in about 2 hours)! I bought two cute tea towels at Target (the lemon one here and the brussel sprout one here) for $3.00 each, I specifically picked kitchen towels that were 100% cotton and not any sort of terry cloth fabric or texture as a personal preference. I also used hemp cord, thread, and a sewing machine. What I love about these bags is that you can customize them however you like; I bought towels, but you could upcycle some from a thrift shop, or use ones you already have at home. I like the cotton tea towel type fabric, but you can use whatever you like. Using a sewing machine makes them more durable and able to hold heavier produce, but you could certainly hand stitch them if you prefer, or if you don’t have a sewing machine.
These were so fun to make and I really enjoyed having a cute reusable cloth bag to take to the market with me. It made grabbing smaller items very easy! Side Note: if you find your bags are a significant amount of weight or you are getting things which are a high price per pound, you can always get the tare weight by weighing the bags yourself or asking the cashier ahead of time.
Sewing Machine or Needle
Optional Sewing pins
Step 1: Determine how large you want your bag to be based on the size of your cloth and how many bags you are going to make. You will need twice the amount of fabric as the size of bag you are making (for example, if you want a bag that is 10in tall and 10in wide, you need either one 10" by 20" piece or two 10" by 10" pieces). For the green tea towel, I decided to make two taller bags which are both 7¾" by 12½" and for the white towel I made three bags all 8¼" by 9".
Step 2: Cut off side hemmed edges if desired and needed. I decided that the hemmed edges along the side of my bag would be too bulky, so I cut them off. Don’t cut off the top hem though (and also keep the bottom hem if you are folding the bag so that you just sew up the sides since the bottom hem would then become the top), you’ll need it later.
Step 3: Cut your cloth to the size needed to make your bag dimensions. As I mentioned, you will need twice the amount of fabric as the size of bag you are making. For the green 7¾" by 12½" bag, I cut one 15½" x 12½" piece and for the white 8¼" x 9" bags I cut 18" x 8¼" strips (the original towel was 18" x 28" so this saved me some cuts).
Step 4: Leave top hem intact for you to run your cord through later. If you do not have a hem, you can create one by folding over and ironing a ⅛" of the top edge of your fabric, then fold that over and iron a ½" fold. Sew along the bottom of the folded edge to create a tube for your cord.
Step 5: Fold your fabric in half, inside out. Some fabrics won’t matter but mine were only printed on one side, so for this step, I put the printed side in (it will be flipped out later).
Step 6: Sew up edges and bottom (if needed) of your fabric to create a bag, avoiding sewing over the hemmed top area (you need this clear to get the cord through). With the way I cut my white towel, all I needed to do was sew both sides almost to the top avoiding the hem (see gallery for photo, sew from just outside one orange pin to just past the other orange pin and repeat on the other side). For the green towels, I needed to sew one side and the bottom. One of them I sewed down the side and across the bottom. However, because the other had the cute message that I wanted to be centered, I sewed down the side, refolded it so the seam I just made was running down the center, and then sewed along the bottom. This moved the seam from the side of the bag to the center back of the bag.
Step 7: With cord that is about 6" more than double the length of the top of your bag, thread your cord through the hem all the way around so it goes in and comes out on the same side. If you are having difficulty running your cord, it may help to use some tape on the end to create a stiff end (like on a shoelace), then thread it through and remove the tape at the end. Tie both ends of the cord together in a simple knot so they don’t fall into the bag hem.
Step 8: Take your bag out to the market and fill it with beautiful fresh produce!