Crafty by Nature

Crafty by Nature

How to Sew Your Own Produce Bags

comments (34) April 8th, 2009     

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LindaPermann Linda Permann, contributor
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Create less waste by making reusable produce bags for your fruits and veggies.
Begin by folding one short (top) edge under by about 1-1/2 inches. Place the yarn or string under the fold and fold the edge of the fold under again, by about 1/2 inch. Pin in place.
 
Sew along the folded edges, being careful to keep the drawstring out of the way.
 
Create less waste by making reusable produce bags for your fruits and veggies.

Create less waste by making reusable produce bags for your fruits and veggies.

Photo: Linda Permann

The case for switching to reusable produce bags is easy. First, there's less waste. There's just no reason to be throwing away bags meant to contain your veggies just once. In fact, if I only have two or so apples, I often skip the bag and hope the cashiers don't hate me. Second, those filmy bags end up making your food go bad faster, especially when it's been sprayed to soaking in the produce department. Mesh will let them air out! And third, if you make your own version, you can make them colorful and fun. You can design your bags to the size that works for you. And you can use them over and over and over again—no more reaching up to the bag holders and trying to hold celery stalks in one hand while you struggle to open the correct end.

The best part about this project is that it's SO easy. And very affordable. Here's what you'll need:

  • 1/2 yard mesh fabric (I found this for $1.49 a yard before my coupon, and you can get three or four bags out of half a yard)
  • A few pieces of string or yarn (for drawstring)
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Scissors

Start by cutting your piece of mesh to the size you wish. I designed these bags so that the fold of the mesh would fall at the bottom, since that part of the bag will bear most of the weight. A good size to start with is 12 inches x 30 inches. You can make your bags larger or smaller if you wish; just cut the piece roughly twice as long plus 3 inches more than you want it, times your desired width plus 1 inch.


Begin by folding one short (top) edge under by about 1-1/2 inches. Place the yarn or string under the fold and fold the edge of the fold under again, by about 1/2 inch. Pin in place.

 

 

 

Repeat on the other end of the bag, making sure both drawstring casings are on the same side of the fabric piece.

Note: Don't go to too much trouble pinning this in place, as the pins are just a bit tricky with mesh. As long as you've got the first one in, you can just hold the mesh in place as you sew.


Sew along the folded edges, being careful to keep the drawstring out of the way.

 


 

I started and ended each sewing line with about an inch of back-and-forth zigzags, then used a short straight stitch for the bulk of the seam. It was key for my machine that the edge be folded; otherwise there was not enough fabric for it to grab. If you are having trouble, you can also sandwich a ribbon between the mesh and then sew your seam.


Sew down the side seams, beginning and ending with a zigzag stitch.

 

 

  This step is optional, but I pinked the edges for fun.

 

 


Turn the bag inside out. Hold the ends of each drawstring together and tie each one in a knot. Trim the string ends.

 

 


Voila! You're done—yes, it's that easy. Make several for yourself and, if you have time, as gifts for friends.

 

These bags are light as air, so you don't need to worry about them driving up your produce costs. And, for the curious, you can either handwash these or wash them in cold (maybe inside of a lingerie bag, just in case). With all that capacity for airing out, though, I doubt they'll need to be washed frequently.

If you make these bags, please be sure to share your pics with us in the gallery!

 

See more of my projects on my personal blog, and look for my new book, Crochet Adorned, in stores August 11, 2009.

Did you make this?
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery
 


 
posted in: tutorial, how-to, green, eco, produce bags, environmentally friendly

Comments (34)

nasrilee writes: beautiful work
Posted: 8:30 am on October 7th
sweetsecrets writes: You are so smart! Thank you.
Posted: 12:29 pm on June 20th
Menopause_Gardener writes: Where do you all get the mesh? I'd love to have something made out of recycled materials, or something "sustainably" produced......

Posted: 1:09 pm on December 25th
suzeqz writes: vspindler, I knew that I'd been saving all those mesh bags for a reason! And VegasRedBear, how can I get on your Christmas list? (grin) FAB idea!
Posted: 10:15 am on August 12th
eileensmileen writes: I've made similar bags over a year ago and they are still going strong. I have no problems using them in any store I enter. I used the scrubbable mesh fabric from JoAnne's and very thin satin ribbon as it seems to slide easier when closing and, more importantly, reopening the bags. I just made some more for 'the new year' in bright colors to help liven up my shopping trips. Question about your instructions: I don't understand how you can sew over the drawstrings and expect them to move?? Perhaps there is a step missing or I don't fully understand. I did my side seams first and then the casing for the ribbon. I have the thin ribbon coming right out of one of the holes in the netting. Seems to work fine.
Posted: 9:00 pm on January 6th
hollyfish writes: Hi , I have been using up some of my fabric stash to make reusable grocery bags, and I used old shear curtains to make produce bags, the one store that I used to go to (I do not go there anymore)had a cashier that told me and my daughter, that she really hates it when people come in with their own bags, and she really wishes they wouldnt do it, My daughter said why and she said it was because it slows her down when she is bagging. I use another store now. I have not had any trouble at the other store.
Posted: 8:39 pm on June 9th
MerryGoose writes: this looks like you used netting...is that the case if not...exactly what do you call this mesh fabric so the store like Joann's or Hancocks will know what I am talking about?
Posted: 6:48 pm on June 9th
vspindler writes: I "upcycle" those nylon netting bags that I get my onions in. They work great and there is no addition purchase of fabric or sewing. I just knot the end when I fill it with produce. Work great and I can carry three of them in my coupon holder, meaning they hardly take up any space!
Posted: 6:20 pm on June 9th
rachel6 writes: A great idea!! I have made food storage bags out of calico. I find them to great and the food stays nice and fresh for a long period of time. However, I have just started to store lettuce in a calico bag and it appears to be drying out very quickly. Doeas anyone have any ideas?
Thanks
Posted: 1:55 pm on January 10th
floridalou writes: What a fab idea. will work on it this weekend. Thanks
Posted: 10:46 pm on October 22nd
Doll_Saver writes: This idea really works but I changed it up a bit. Instead of a drawstring closure I made it into a fold-over closure this way I can fold it flat to fit into a special pocket on my re-usable grocery bag tote I made. The cashiers look at me a bit strange then ask where I got it. One bag-boy (man) said to me, "You're very particular, aren't you?" I guess I am when it comes to stream-lining my green things.
Posted: 9:16 am on October 3rd
FFO writes: I found a 'scrubbable mesh' at JoAnn fabrics which has a nice feel and slightly smaller holes compared to the normal cheap mesh. Yes, it is a little more expensive but it sews much easier and machine feed was not an issue. What is a few cents compared to a ton of frustration? I made a bag with bold contrasting ribbon for the wet wash cloths in the bathroom; works wonders for keeping my laundry basket dry! Making one for my 'salad spinner', to replace my usual kitchen towel. Wash the spinnach or lettuce leaves while it is in the bag,pat down with a kitchen towel, then go outside and twirl it over your head to get out excess moisture. Keeps passerbys wondering what you are doing but storage is easier than a real salad spinner! Hey, talk on your hands free phone while twirling your lettuce leaves and they may just give you a coat with extra long sleeves ....
Posted: 7:49 pm on July 9th
tevagirl writes: Thanks, these will be great for the farmers market - I hate coming home with a zillion plastic bags! My co-workers will be jealous next week when we hit up the farmers market, I'll probably have to make some for the whole office!
Posted: 9:11 pm on July 8th
picnicblog writes: Lovely! I just made a few produce bags using muslin and posted them here... http://picnic.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/06/produce-bags.html
Posted: 7:28 pm on June 19th
dragonmoo13 writes: great idea for inserting the drawstring BEFORE you sew it. I would be cursing the mesh trying to thread it through after. lol
Posted: 6:23 pm on June 19th
NanaLeronna writes: I think I'm going to make some of these for my family members that go hunting for Morel Mushrooms. The spores can still go through the holes (for next years 'shrooms), while being lightweight. I think I'll use ribbon or shoestrings for the handles. Thank You Linda for the GREAT idea!!!!
Posted: 8:10 pm on June 18th
karen09 writes: Great idea! I would make a french seam to reinforce the seams, especially if you are using a mesh with larger holes.I sure am going to make some myself!
Posted: 5:32 pm on June 18th
Belgianbuty writes: the people at the store know the codes for all the produce. The bag doesnt matter. If you want just make sure there is a sku sticker on the produce. But no one will tell you to go back and get a bag. If they try you should give them the ... Do you know what plastic bags are doing to our earth speech. lol.
Posted: 12:14 pm on June 18th
imjustso writes: I know you said the bags won't change the cost of the produce, but has the grocery store ever given you a hard time about them? This is a great idea and I'd like to try it, but I see me holding up the line because a cashier makes me go back to the produce section to get plastic bags and transfer all my veggies before weighing them.
Posted: 7:27 am on June 18th
imjustso writes: I know you said the bags won't change the cost of the produce, but has the grocery store ever given you a hard time about them? This is a great idea and I'd like to try it, but I see me holding up the line because a cashier makes me go back to the produce section to get plastic bags and transfer all my veggies before weighing them.
Posted: 7:26 am on June 18th
Maureta writes: Looking at one of the larger grocery store mesh bags the other day, I thought lingerie bag! I used it in the washer but let the lingerie air dry. Just tied a knot in the top and peeled away the damp paper label that dissoved in the washer.

Posted: 2:24 am on June 18th
danYellb0t writes: These sound great! Im all in for making these ASAP!
Posted: 1:23 am on June 18th
KJRas writes: I've been making these in various sizes from the mesh bags onions, oranges, etc. come in.
Posted: 11:41 pm on June 17th
Moore_Sew writes: Terrific idea! I especially like the idea that they are lightweight as I had been considering making some out of calico, but did not want to pay extra for my produce due to the weight. I bought a lot of this mesh from the bargain bin at my local fabric store, intending to make tutus for my daughter and her friends. I haven't done that yet, but I think I can find the time for this little and very green project! Thanks!
Posted: 11:09 pm on June 17th
LaurenZ writes: This is EXACTLY what I've been looking for! Awesome and easy. Thank you!!
Posted: 7:56 pm on June 17th
VegasRedBear writes: These are wonderful. I'm crocheting mesh market bags for family members for the holidays and these will be great to tuck inside!!!!!!!!!
Posted: 1:52 pm on May 31st
Rooty_Tooty writes: Great idea! If the netting will not feed through your sewing machine easily, try laying a piece of tissue paper on your sewing machine UNDER the fabric & sew just as if it's another layer of fabric. When you have completed the seam, simply tear away the paper. This is a trick that works well when sewing other very light or sheer fabrics and will probably work here as well. However, I do think Linda's ideas of folding the fabric so that you have an extra layer of netting or sandwiching in a strip of ribbon are both good ways to add stength to these seams. Afterall, produce can sometimes be fairly heavy and break through.
Posted: 7:17 pm on April 25th
imapicklepinpal writes: Oh my goodness. To think, I was going to buy some of these. For some reason I didn't think these were so easy to make. You rock Linda.
Posted: 8:45 am on April 25th
luvoldies1330 writes: And here I was, about to give away my netting. Thanks so much for a wonderful "green" idea.
Posted: 1:32 am on April 14th
Shirley_Ann writes: Also would make cute little gift bags!
Posted: 7:17 am on April 11th
WiredbyDesign writes: I wonder if I can squeeze 2 of these from the mesh bag my oranges came in.....
Posted: 9:11 am on April 10th
susanstars writes: love this idea, Linda! I'm definitely making some!
Posted: 1:14 pm on April 9th
croqzine writes: Easy, great idea, and cute!!
Posted: 12:05 pm on April 8th
NigheanRuadh writes: What a great idea!! I want to make some of these!!
Posted: 9:24 am on April 8th
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