Reusable Shopping Bag Tutorial

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A while back I made some reusable shopping bags and I’ve been searching for the right fabric before giving you a tutorial. These bags are spacious yet strong.
reusable shopping tote tutorial

For the fabric I bought a woven heavyweight upholstery fabric. I got it from a local outlet store for $6.99 per yard!
amazing woven canvas fabric
For one bag you’ll need (2) 18″ x 21″ rectangles of fabric and (2) 4″ x 24″ rectangles of fabric.
For the optional step, you’ll need 1 rectangle measuring 4″ x 6″ and one plastic snap set. (Could substitute for velcro.)
sew side and bottom seams
Right sides together, sew two main fabric pieces around 3 sides, leaving 1 longer side open.
pin and mark corners
Line up right side seams with bottom seam and pin in place. Measure in 4″ and mark a line. Repeat using left side seam and bottom seam.
zig zag seams
Because I’m working with a fabric that unravels and I’ve chosen not to do a lining, I do take the extra step to zig zag around all the seams.
fold and stitch top seam
I also zig zag the entire top side. Then fold 1″ onto wrong side of fabric. Use a zig zag stitch to secure around top edge.
bag up to this point
This is what your bag should look like so far. Set it aside and we’ll put together the straps.
sew straps
Iron long sides by 1/4″. Then fold strap in half and sew using a straight stitch and 1/8″ allowance. Top stitch along folded edge as well using 1/8″ allowance. *Note: I made one continuous strip & determined my handle length as I was making it.
finished strap
Measure and add to top seam
Pin straps 5″ in from side seams and you will want to have 3″ of the strap below the top of the bag on the inside. This is going to make the bag stronger. Make sure that your straps don’t get twisted as you’re pinning them.
pin both strap ends near top seam
double x stitch pattern for reinforcement
I used a double x pattern with a rectangle around the edges to secure.
finished shopping tote
You’re done!! This baby is ready for some serious shopping.
OR, you can continue on with the optional step. =)
add additional snap strap
I didn’t want to have to just wad my shopping bags up inside one another to store them. Sometimes I buy more that what’s on my list and sometimes I only need a few items. Either way, i like to take all my bags in case. The easiest thing I could think of was to have my bags fold for storage and I wanted to secure them that way so they couldn’t just unfold whenever they felt like it.
stitch down snap strap
Using a 4″ x 6″ rectangle, follow directions for making straps. Pin & sew directly in between to of your straps already on the bag.
measure and add snap
Measure 4 1/2″ below where you just placed our extra piece and sew on a 1″ square of scrap fabric. We just want this to reinforce the snap so we don’t end up pulling it through the woven fabric and make a hole.
back side of snap with reinforcement
Add snap (or velcro) to outside of bag where you just sewed he reinforcement square. You then want to place the partner snap on the extra strip near the handles. You will want the snap to be on the side facing the inside of the bag.
folded, snapped and ready to go
And just because it can be tricky, here’s an easy little infographic for folding the bags. =)
diagram for easily folding shopping bag
Feedback would be appreciated!!

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20 Responses

  1. Love it! The fabric is awesome too! Great job 🙂

  2. This2That says:

    I love this tote. I like to use recycled grocery bag and this is great because it’s so compact until you need to use it. Thanks for sharing!!

  3. I just love this! I have so many bags, but this is the only one that makes sense! How cool is it that it goes that compact!! Great job!!

    Katie @ Little Becky Homecky

  4. I love this! I think I could make this bag! I would love for you to link up at my party going on now at Jillify It!

    Enter to win a Hobby Lobby gift card while you’re there!
    I’m a new follower!


  5. Lisa @ Flour Me With Love says:

    This is so cute and I love how you can fold it up and snap it together! I’d love for you to share this at Mix it up Monday:

    I hope to see you soon 🙂

  6. Hannah says:

    Cute! I am thinking about making some shopping nags soon! Thnx for the idea!

    Check out my new blog-

  7. Rose :: Fine Craft Guild says:

    excellent design.
    i love that you can roll it up!

    thank you for linking it up to our wednesday party at

    When you come again today to the blog to post another one of your great creations, could you be so kind so as to also pick up the party badge and feature it on your blog. It will be so appreciated.

  8. What a great tutorial! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Love the folding element of the bag! That would allow me to keep a bunch in my purse. Thank you for sharing this great tute! Judy @

  10. Great idea! These should be very handy.

  11. Ginny says:

    What a great tutorial, it combines my loves for sewing, shopping, and being green! I like it so much, I ended up including it on my blog…

  12. Very cute and love the detailed tutorial! Found you via link up party at Fingerprints on the Fridge 🙂

    -Bonnie @ Revolutionaries

  13. Wendy says:

    Such a great idea, funnily enough, I made 18 reusable shopping bags this week and posted about them! Must be something in the water!

  14. Dani Sue says:

    Really cute bag! It’s been so long since I sewed a tote that I think I’m going to take lessons before I attempt it again! 🙂 Thanks for the idea! If I succeed I will share it on my new blog.

  15. Oh I love this fabric! I currently use those big tarp bags from IKEA but it would be nice to have something that actually looks nice haha.

  16. Kristen says:

    Such a great idea. I really wish I was more talented with a sewing machine. But this tutorial does look easy.

    Can these bags be washed in a machine?

  17. Feral Turtle says:

    Love love love your extra step for folding the bags! Think I might do this to the ones I have made. Cheers.

  18. Christine says:

    GREAT tutorial!!! Very clear instructions! I want one! 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer… From Dream To Reality!

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