Picture of Make your own grocery bag
I've seen a lot of tutorials for grocery totes and bags and the like but I never found one that I thought was easy enough for someone like me to follow. There is an excellent one on Craftster that makes a t-shirt bag almost exactly like this one but it uses a very different technique for constructing the bag. This one may not end up as refined but I think it might be easier for some sewers to follow.
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Step 1: Cut out your fabric

Picture of Cut out your fabric
You can use an existing bag for the pattern. Just cut off the seams at the top of the handles and the bottom seam. Then cut up each side so you have a pattern to use that looks not unlike a wife-beater.

You need to cut four pieces of fabric total, two of the lining fabric and two of the outside fabric. I pulled some quilt fabric out of my stash to make this bag and I used two very different fabrics so the inside and outside would be easily distinguished.

The Debbie Mumm chicken fabric is for the outside of the bag. The black chicken wire print is the lining fabric

Step 2: Sew the sides

Picture of Sew the sides
Pin the outside fabric right sides together and sew up the both sides. Do the same for the lining fabric.

Step 3: Press!

Picture of Press!
Open up the fabric and press the seams to one side. A note about pressing: Do it. And take your time about it. You'll brand yourself an amateurish noob if you neglect this. Precise pressing is the difference between something looking hand-crafted and something looking like it was homemade by a ten year old girl scout.
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ChrisedaC made it!6 months ago

This instructable was not only easy and detailed but also very entertaining. I actually chuckled at a few places. Thanks for that. I love that I can launder these. Other reusable bags can get a little...funky. I also love that I can make these out of old clothing (son's outgrown clothes). I find them easy/comfortable to carry when heavy and full and they hold quite a lot. Great Job!

DIY grocery bags.JPG
compwalla (author)  ChrisedaC6 months ago

I love those! The shirts add so much character. This would be a really great way to upcycle garage sale shirts. One of the drawbacks to these bags is that they use a relatively large amount of fabric and can be expensive. Upcycled shirts from a garage sale or from your own closet would cut the cost per bag dramatically. Thanks for commenting! :)

Thanks! I forgot to mention that I used an old flat bed sheet that I had put away for a future drop sheet. So thrift store/garage sale sheets give a lot of fabric too and you don't have to deconstruct them. Cheers!

You truly have a gift of writing using voice! (I have taught 4th grade and one thing i teach is using your voice in your writing-making it authentic and as if you were speaking it...which you do superbly!) I love the little "extra bit of fun and sarcasm" in each step! Truly the best instructions I have read. Thank you for your great detail and making me laugh while learning...I'll never look at chickens the same again!
DangerPlate made it!1 month ago
I love my new bags!
RonnieCXE4 months ago
Here are mine! Tag says "Ugly Maddie Original ". This was so VERY VERY easy to do! I ended up using the scraps to make small pencil bags to go with my "book bags"! Thanks for this!!!
LisaK24 months ago

This bag is so cute and I love the chicken fabric.

How about the grocery getter for a name for the tote
Pickory5 months ago

I am going to do this now. Been looking for a step by step. And yours is fun. Thank you

Love the pattern, but do not want to "Go Pro" so I cannot have it. I know you are making money from your blog, but I hate the "bait and switch" tactics. I don't think I will revisit your blog.

compwalla (author)  angela.cooper.946176 months ago

Angela, I do not make any money from these bags or the pattern. Every instructable on this site is loaded by members and we do not get any reimbursement for uploading tutorials. You should be able to see every step and all the instructions one step at a time without buying a pro membership.

katjoy made it!10 months ago

yay! here's mine.

compwalla (author)  katjoy6 months ago

I love your fabric choice! So pretty. :)

luvyvvega katjoy6 months ago

hi, your bag is so adorable. i love the print. what kind of cloth did you you use in this bag? thanks!

compwalla (author)  luvyvvega6 months ago

Thank you! It is a Debbie Mumm print from a very long time ago. Like from the late 1990s old so I doubt it's still available anywhere. But Debbie Mumm is still designing fabric so if you like her style, check out her new lines and see if something appeals to you.

rvan alstyne8 months ago
Awesome instructable! Easy to follow and made a great bag. Am making several to sell at church fundraiser and needed someway to put my never use stash to some good. :-) Thank you!
golfster42 years ago
I can't find in the instructions how much fabric to buy for the grocery bag. I am probably looking right at it but these old eyes are missing it! Thanks!
katjoy golfster411 months ago

she says to take a grocery bag you already have, and cut open the seams. Then, to figure out how much fabric you need, measure the open bag laying flat, and double it for both sides, then double that for the inside and outside fabrics.

you use a tshirt
katjoy11 months ago

I have to say, this is the BEST tutorial I've seen so far (haven't looked that long, though) on the exact type of bag I want to make. I already had the idea, just got stuck. You helped me get unstuck - thank you! I even "pinned" it. :-)

you have no idea how many grocery bags i made thanks to your instructables,thanks,God bless!
Kaber3 years ago
Great instructable. Thanks! I add "button holes" on the handles, so they can be hung in the holder for the plastic bags at the end of the bagging area. I also do a shor top stitch on the bottom side fold. Just 3 inches up each side.
lzalma3 years ago
At first I thought I f***ed it up, but then figured it out (hey, it's late and I shouldn't be up sewing anyhow). I did have a little Perez Pucker, but mostly out of being lazy. But it still came out nice if I do say so myself! Easy instructions and sturdy bag! Love the tutorial!
TiGRe8123 years ago
FSM - Ramen!
RaNDoMLeiGH4 years ago
I french seam mine and only line the handle/top area. If you skip the gussets, they can hold two gallons of milk without breaking a sweat. I sew across the bottom corners instead (box-style).

Those temporary $2 non-woven fabric cheapo POS they sell to Hummer-driving greensters don't even start to compare to the awesome washability of your very own skull-print grocery bags. I use mine, not just feel great about owning it. But then, if you're buying the nonwoven kind, you're probably not the sort who remembers to put them back in the car after unloading them.

I made a little pouch with a ribbon closure from matching fabric (actually, the cut off from between the handles). When in use, I just throw the pouch into the bag. You can also use a hair elastic to keep it folded up between uses.

Very nice instructable. You remind me of my 9th grade home ick teacher with your constant reminders to press, press, press. LOL that's the only time I ever iron anything other than table napkins.

jmccolley5 years ago
FSM??  Are you a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?  I like you even more now!  You are hilarious.  I'm going to make one of these bags right after I make my kids some super fashionable lounge pants.   Thanks for taking the time to make these instructions.  I can't follow patterns or sewing books to save my life, you really explain things very well for a newbie sewer like myself.  

compwalla (author)  jmccolley5 years ago
Why, yes. I am a devout Pastafarian. So nice to meet up with another lucky soul whose been touched by His Noodly Appendage. RAmen, my friend and Happy Sewing. If you have any questions about this or the other tute, don't hesitate to give me a shout.

May the Sauce be with You,

Kaber5 years ago
Thanks for the instructions. have you tried top stitching those side folds? I like to do that when I make the more 'box shaped' grocery bags. I wonder if it'd work on this one. I just made one following your instructions (but adding 2 inches each direction & sans chickens). I plan on another. I'll have to try top stitching the side folds....
I just made one and it turned out fantastic. Thanks so much for a fun and funny and earth friendly project.
bhan5 years ago
Enjoyed the detail and the humor.
happytoo5 years ago
Thank you so much for the "detailed tips about ironing " your sense of humor made it easier to follow
compwalla (author)  happytoo5 years ago
Glad you enjoyed the tutorial. :)
This is amazing! I actually saw this post on Craftster ages ago, but i never got around to finishing my bag.. It was looking pretty awesome, but I was quite busy at the time.. perhaps now I might be able to finish it! Really, it's an amazing tutorial and I will happily make many of these in the future! Thank you again!
What a beautiful Instructable! And perhaps easy enough, thanks to the clear instructions and precise images, for even a 10 year old girl scout to understand! This one is definitely marked as one of my favs and got a 5.0 rating!
cyndyluro6 years ago
Had seen your tutorial late last year and vowed to make it and did not. However, now on Spring break and just thinking that all of the old clothing I have to sort through would make wonderful totes for storing the things I want to keep and shelve. So not only are the bags good for green shopping but also good for green organization. Think of the money and trees I will save by not buying cardboard storage boxes.
vshaynes6 years ago
Well designed and well documented. Thank you for sharing and congrats on your win.
gluless6 years ago
Of all the grocery bags on here, this is my fav! I also love your snarky 'tude and great instructions. This is on my "list" of to dos. Thank you and congrats on the win!
sewbiz6 years ago
sewbiz thanks for great tute I have now made approx 20 in sets of 5 for daughters and friends I love to go green and now you can do it in style
blissclaire6 years ago
yay! i did it! although my handles are a bit uneven (due to it being christmas eve night) because of my procrastination of making this amazing tote! this is my first official project with my sewing machine, and im glad that i was able to do so without totally banging my head in! instructable was great, and i appreciate the time you put into making it! hopefully it will take me less than 4 hours from start to finish next time!!
compwalla (author)  blissclaire6 years ago
Awesome! Welcome to the Sewists Cult. Once you get in, you can't get out. :) I'm glad for your success! Once you make one, the others will be faster.
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