Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bag a Week: Grocery Tote Tutorial

This week's blag-a-bag is a little early, since I decided to make some grocery bags, and thought it would be a great tutorial, too.

This makes a bag that is 12"x12"x6", with an extra 9-10" drop from the straps. It's a little smaller than your standard paper grocery bag, but you can still pack a lot in there. On the plus side if you're short: you can carry this bag in your hand and it won't drag on the ground!

Materials: 1.5 yards of medium-weight twill, or some other sturdy fabric. Pre-wash your fabric before you cut, if you intend to wash it after sewing.

1. Cut your fabric. 
You want two side pieces, front and back pieces, a bottom piece, and two straps.

  • 1 bottom: 13"x7"
  • 2 front/back: 13"x13"
  • 2 side: 13"x7"
Grain doesn't matter quite as much, but it is better to have the lengthwise grain going vertically. Here is my rough diagram to show this.

This is actually how I usually start a bag. Maybe my mathematical approach is why I end up with huge-ass bags like last week's.

2. Prepare straps.
Pin the straps together, folding lengthwise with right sides together. 

Sew, using a 1/2" seam allowance. 

Pro-tip: if you're sewing a few pieces in a row, you can chain them together instead of snipping the threads. Usually it's bad to sew without fabric, but one or two stitches won't hurt.

Turn the straps right-side out.

3. Prepare front/back and side pieces.
Finish the top and bottom of your side pieces, and your front/back pieces. Overlocking is recommended, of course! But zig-zag is pretty good, too. 

Fold the top down 1/2", and sew 1/4" from the edge.

4. Attach straps to front/back pieces.
On your front/back pieces, make marks at 3" and 4" from the side edges, at the top and the bottom.

Pin straps to these marks, seams facing in. Be careful not to twist the handle at the loop!

Make a mark across the top of one strap, in line with the top seam on your front/back piece. Then make another mark 1" below.

Mark diagonally between the corners. You should have an X. Do the same for the other three straps.

Sew one strap along the edges, and following the markings you made previously. Your path should look something like this:
Stitch close to the edge, turning at the corners, and backstitching at the beginning and the end to secure your threads.

Do the same for the other three straps.

5. Sew front/back to sides.
Pin the sides to the back/front pieces along the side edges, with wrong sides together. Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance. 

Yep, wrong sides together, 1/4" seam allowance! We're going to do a French seam.

Flip back inside-out and pin along those side seams you just made. Sew again, right sides together, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Your unfinished edges should be enclosed now.

I don't have a photo of this because I did it so crappily, it's embarassing. Haha... It's OK, sewing isn't perfect.

5.5 Take a random photo of Spousal Unit drinking water.

6. Attach bottom to body.
Finish bottom piece, either with overlocking or zig-zag stitching. At each corner, mark a small line, 1/2" from each edge. This should give you a small X. Match these X's to the side seams of your front/back/side piece. 

Pin the bottom to the front/back/sides, right sides together. Pin the seam allowance (from the front/back/sides) to one side, basting if necessary. Sew, using a 1/2" seam allowance.

7. Enclose bottom seams (optional).
If you want to give your back extra stability for all those cans and vegetables, enclose the bottom seam allowance by sewing along the bottom edge. This isn't always necessary, and can be a little tricky, so I don't always do it.

Either way, you should have a fully functional, completely washable grocery bag to forget you had in your trunk!

Photograph of my notes tracking what I did.

No comments:

Post a Comment