DIY Zero-Waste Produce Bags

DIY Zero-Waste Produce Bags

I am always looking for new ways to reduce waste especially plastic and paper waste with my family. The reusable shopping bags are great but then I noticed a lady using homemade produce bags and I was like I bet I can make those. I wanted to enable others to make them as well, so the challenge was on to create a DIY Zero-Waste Produce Bags that are light and easy to make. The fun part about these is you can customize them along the way with different ribbon or material or just keep it simple. I was surprised how quickly I was able to make the produce bags as well.

How to Sew Zero-Waste Produce Bags

Supplies for Produce Bags

Produce Bag Supplies

DIY Zero-Waste Produce Bags

Ironing Fabric

Now that you have your supplies together to make the produce bags lets get started. Remember your fabric will be weighed with your produce so make sure you choose a lightweight fabric. A sheer or mesh fabric would be appropriate but is definitely harder to work with. Due to this, I chose an unbleached 100% cotton muslin fabric. Let’s start by Ironing the fabric to ensure it lays completely flat for cutting.

Cut Fabric

Measure and cut a rectangle of fabric 9” x 22” (see notes at bottom of the post about measurements for different sizes for bags). I suggest using A rotary tool like this and cutting mat for this step, especially if you are making multiple zero-waste produce bags. Because muslin is a thin fabric, you should be able to cut multiple bags out at a time using a rotary cutter and mat. Simply stack or fold your fabric before cutting to save some time!

Fold the Fabric

On either end of the short 9” ends of the fabric, fold the fabric in about ¼” and press the fold down about 1.5” from the top – this will allow the casing to have a finished edge rather than raw. See photo for reference.

Stitch corner fold

Stitch the fold down on all four corners – this should only go down 1.5” on each end of your 22” side of your fabric.

Folding and press down with Iron one quarter inch.

Fold one 9” end of your fabric in ¼” and press with an iron.

Fold for Drawstring

Fold again to ¾” from end of the fabric. Pin if desired. This will be the casing for your drawstring. Repeat for the other 9” end of the fabric.

Sewing Drawstring Fold

Stitch very close to the edge of the ¾” edge across each end of the fabric.

French Seam on Produce Bag

To enclose all raw edges, we will create a French seam inside the bag. This will keep the fabric from fraying. Fold the rectangle of fabric in half with the newly sewn casings at the top. The insides (wrong sides) of the bag should be facing each other. Be sure the fabric is lined up along the top and sides. Clip or Pin along each side to hold. I highly recommend these clips. They get a lot of use from me! Try to flatten out the fabric as much as possible close to the casing, but it will fold the closer you get. This is okay!

Showing Seam

Stitch along the sides of the bag with a ¼” seam allowance. Essentially, you are sewing a pair of parallel lines on the sides of the bag. The bottom does not need to be stitched. Trim off raw edges outside of stitches if desired but be sure not to cut your stitches!

Tool turning bag inside out

Turn the bag inside out. Using a turning tool (I used the corner of my sewing gauge – see photo!), carefully push out the sides along the seams you just sewed. Once the fabric is flat, press to hold.

Inside out sewing

While the bag is inside out, sew along each side again with a ½” seam allowance. Be sure you are sewing past your previous stitches so they will be enclosed.

Produce Bag No Drawstring

Flip the bag right side out again. Press edges for a clean, crisp look. Now you have a zero-waste produce bag that needs a drawstring. Don’t worry we show you how to complete the produce bags with a drawstring over the next few steps.

24 inches of Ribbon

Cut 2- 24” pieces of ribbon (or drawstring material of your choice). Angle the cut ends of the ribbon and use a lighter to quickly burn the ends. This will keep the ribbon from unraveling.

Insert Safety Pin Ribbon

Insert a safety pin into one end of one ribbon. Feed the ribbon through one casing with the safety pin. Once you reach the other end, insert it into the casing on the opposite side (see photo for reference). You will be making a “U” shape with your ribbon. Once it comes out of the other end, remove the safety pin and tie the ends together in a knot so they don’t slip through the casing.

Safety Pin insert other side

Insert the safety pin into the other piece of ribbon. Repeat the process with this ribbon but start on the other end of the casing (the one with the bottom of the “U” connecting the casings). You will be able to pull on both ends of the ribbons simultaneously to close the bag quickly.

Now your DIY zero-waste produce bags are good to go grocery shopping and use your new bags to get some fresh produce!

Zero Waste Produce Bags

You can feel good knowing that not only did you hand make the zero-waste produce bags, but you are helping to reduce plastic use. This is a win-win sewing project. Once your friends see it they will ask you how you did it and you can send them to the Happiest Camper dot com! If you loved this tutorial make sure to pin it to your favorite sewing or zero waste Pinterest board.

DIY Zero-Waste Produce Bags

DIY ZERO-WASTE PRODUCE BAGS

DIY ZERO-WASTE PRODUCE BAGS

Easy to follow instructions for making reusable produce bags.

Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $8.00

Instructions

    1. Iron the fabric.
    2. Measure and cut a rectangle of fabric 9” x 22” (see notes about different sizes for bags).
    3. On either end of the short 9” ends of the fabric, fold the fabric in about ¼” and press the fold down about 1.5” from the top.
    4. Stitch the fold down on all four corners – this should only go down 1.5” on each end of your 22” side of your fabric.
    5. Fold one 9” end of your fabric in ¼” and press with an iron. Fold again to ¾” from end of the fabric. Pin if desired. This will be the casing for your drawstring. Repeat for the other 9” end of the fabric.
    6. Stitch very close to the edge of the ¾” edge across each end of the fabric.
    7. To enclose all raw edges, we will create a French seam inside the bag. This will keep the fabric from fraying. Fold the rectangle of fabric in half with the newly sewn casings at the top. The insides (wrong sides) of the bag should be facing each other. Be sure the fabric is lined up along the top and sides. Pin along each side to hold.
    8. Stitch along the sides of the bag with a ¼” seam allowance. Essentially, you are sewing a pair of parallel lines on the sides of the bag. The bottom does not need to be stitched. Trim off raw edges outside of stitches if desired but be sure not to cut your stitches!
    9. Turn the bag inside out. Using a turning tool, carefully push out the sides along the seams you just sewed. Once the fabric is flat, press to hold.
    10. While the bag is inside out, sew along each side again with a ½” seam allowance. Be sure you are sewing past your previous stitches so they will be enclosed.
    11. Flip the bag right side out again. Press edges for a clean, crisp look.
    12. Cut 2- 24” pieces of ribbon (or drawstring material of your choice). Angle the cut ends of the ribbon and use a lighter to quickly burn the ends.
    13. Insert a safety pin into one end of one ribbon. Feed the ribbon through one casing with the safety pin. Once you reach the other end, insert it into the casing on the opposite side. You will be making a “U” shape with your ribbon. Once it comes out of the other end, remove the safety pin and tie the ends together in a knot so they don’t slip through the casing.
    14. Insert the safety pin into the other piece of ribbon. Repeat the process with this ribbon but start on the other end of the casing (the one with the bottom of the “U” connecting the casings). You will be able to pull on both ends of the ribbons simultaneously to close the bag quickly.
    15. Go grocery shopping and use your new zero-waste produce bags to get some fresh produce!

Notes

I wanted to choose a lightweight fabric – remember it’ll be weighed with your produce! A sheer or mesh fabric would be appropriate but is definitely harder to work with. I chose an unbleached 100% cotton muslin fabric.

Shoelaces work well as repurposed drawstrings. Satin ribbon slips through the muslin fabric easily to close the bag.

Because muslin is a thin fabric, you should be able to cut multiple bags out at a time using a rotary cutter and mat. Simply stack or fold your fabric before cutting to save some time!

The photos are for a bag with a finished size of around 8” x 10.” Please see the measurements for different sized bags below:

-  X-Large bag (12” x 14”) good for oranges, potatoes, several apples, etc.

  • Cut fabric 13” x 30”
  • Cut 32” pieces of ribbon

-  Large bag (8” x 10”) good for tomatoes, avocados, limes, etc.

  • Cut fabric 9” x 22”
  • Cut 24” pieces of ribbon

-  Small bag (7” x 8”) good for nuts, popcorn kernels, ginger root, etc.

  • Cut fabric 8” x 18”
  • Cut 20” pieces of ribbon

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