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Sewing pattern printing

Shopping Bag Project

Shopping bag project

The single layer shopping bag rolls up nice and small to fit in your handbag so you always have a bag on hand when you need one.  Plus it will save you having to pay for a plastic bag.  I used sturdy canvas fabric from Pound Fabrics, which has a real Cath Kidston style at a fraction of the price (just £4 per metre!) 


1/2m or 2 fat quarters of fabric for bag body. We used canvas fabric for extra durability but quilting cotton would work too. 

21 x 8 inches of fabric for the handles. You can use the same fabric, or a different fabric for contrast.

Useful to have – Prym Love chalk cartridge pencil

Cath Kidston style rose canvas fabric

Cutting Instructions

Cut the main fabric for your bag 2 pieces which are 20 inches (high) by 18 inches (wide).  If you are using a directional print make sure it is facing the right way up!  

For the handles cut 2 strips 4 inches wide by 21 inches high.

How to make a fabric bag

Turn the top edge of your bag pieces under 1/4 an inch and press.  Fold it over another 1/4 an inch (so the raw edge is hidden on the inside) and press into place again.  Stitch into place as per the image above.

This is a double fold hem, if you don’t want to overlock stitch the edges of the bag in the next step you could do double fold hems on these too.  

Note: I use Wonder Clips to hold my fabric in place, you could use pins if you prefer. 

How to overlock fabric on your sewing machine

Place your 2 bag pieces right sides together matching your hems at the top.  Make sure they match exactly on all the edges, trim off any bits that don’t. Then using the overlock stitch on your machine (or an overlocker if you have one) stitch around the 3 raw edges.   Alternatively, you could zig zag stitch the raw edge, make double fold hems or bind them.

TIP – I tend to straight stitch around the edge first before I overlock the edges just to reinforce the hems given the bag could be holding lots of weight. That’s what the row of stitching is below the overlock stitch in the image above. 

How to box the corners of a bag

Fold one of the bottom corners into a triangle as shown in the picture, pulling the sides out either side of the corner.  Draw a line 2 inches from the point with chalk and then sew along it.  Cut off the corner a few millimetres from your line of stitching and overlock stitch the raw edge.  Repeat for the other bottom corner of the bag.

Again I would straight stitch the seams too for extra reinforcement. 

How to make reusable shopping bags

Taking the pieces of fabric you’ve cut for the straps fold in the first ½ inch either end and press as per the image above. 

DIY folding shopping bag project

Fold the whole strip of fabric in half length wise and press.  Open up and fold the raw edges into the centre line and press into place.   Then fold in half again with both the raw edges hidden in the middle.

Free market bag pattern

Top stitch 1/8th of an inch around all the edges of your straps. 

Free fabric grocery bag pattern

Fold your main bag pieces in half width wise to find the centre and mark with your chalk pen.  Measure 4 inches out in either direction and mark.  This is where you will stitch either end of your handles.  I put mine about 1.5 inches from the top edge and used 3 rows of stitching to hold them in place, 2 by the bottom and 1 in line with the top stitching around the top of the bag.

Free grocery bag pattern

Now your bag is finished, you can easily roll it up to fit in your handbag.  Why not make a few so you always have a fabric shopping bag to hand when you need it?


This project was written by Fiona Pullen from The Sewing Directory.