Introduction: Blackberry-Picking Bag

In the summer, I go for walks on a beautiful island where wild blackberry bushes line the roads and paths. I bring a plastic bag from the supermarket to collect the ripe berries, but by the end of the hike, after bouncing around in my backpack, the blackberries are partially crushed and berry juice seeps from tears in the plastic. I desperately need a solution. This blackberry picking bag is the ideal pack for any picking expedition!

The dire problems:

  • Material: Sheer plastic bags get torn on the bush's thorns, and cloth bags get soaked by the berry's juice.
  • Accessibility: Plastic bags are hard to hold open with one hand while picking with the other.
  • Safety: Precious berries get mauled when shoved precariously in your backpack (not to mention spill risk)!

The innovative solutions:

  • Material: A combination of both plastic lining and a cotton cloth outside makes the bag both waterproof and protected from thorn ripping.
  • Accessibility: Large, comfy handles on either side of the bag are expertly placed to provide maximum ease while picking with one hand and holding the bag with the other.
  • Safety: When the upper part of the bag is rolled closed, the top handle buckles the bag securely shut. This buckle also clips onto your backpack so that your berries can ride along on the outside unscathed!

Step 1: Collect the Supplies

  • Large reusable plastic shopping bag
  • Yard of cotton fabric
  • Medium backpack buckle
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread
  • Ruler
  • Marker/pencil
  • Pins

Step 2: Measure and Cut Materials

Measure and cut a rectangle of cotton fabric that is 13 inches x 21 inches. Cut another rectangle that is 13'x12' out of the reusable plastic shopping bag. Now cut the straps out of the cotton fabric. First cut two strips of cotton fabric that measure 2'x10.5'. Then make two more cotton fabric pieces that measure 3'x10.5'.

Step 3: Preparing the Bag's Body

Pin the two big pieces of fabric (13'x21') together with wrong sides facing inward. I used mini clothespins for lack of other material, but you can use regular sewing pins. Sew all the way around the rectangle's edge getting as close to the edge as possible while still sewing both pieces of fabric together. Next, fold the top wide side of the bag body down 2 cm (almost one inch) so that the cotton fabric shows slightly over the plastic material and pin (see pic for better understanding). Sew along the bottom of this fold leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance and backstitch at the ends. Put finished result aside.

Step 4: Making Handles/Straps

Now take the 2'x10.5' fabric strips and fold them in half length-wise so that the right sides are touching inside. Pin it. Then, leave both small sides open, Sew along the edge of each piece )getting as close to the edge as safely possible). Be sure to backstitch a ton when sewing this because the stitches have to withstand a great deal of pulling. Turn out these pieces so that the right side of the cloth is facing outward. Repeat this process with the 3'x10.5' fabric strips.

Step 5: Sewing on Handles

Take the bag's body and fold it in half length-wise so that the plastic material is touching on the inside and the hemmed edge is facing up/away from you. Measure 5' in from the closed (folded) side of the bag and 4' down from the top, hemmed edge. Draw a small box there. Take one of the smaller handles and fold the end a half-inch up. Pin the folded side of the small handle to the drawn box. Unfold the bag's body and sew the handle to the drawn box. Be sure to backstitch and go around the box a few times! Repeat with the other small handle on the other side of the bag.

Now take the bigger handles (wider). Measure 1 inch to the left and right of the bottom of the small handle. Hem the bigger handles 1/2 inch (fold 1/2 inch of the end in) on both ends. Place the inside of the bigger handle's end right at the 1-inch mark (inline with the bottom of the small handle). Sew in place (backstitch a bunch). Take the other end and sew down as well. Repeat with the other bigger handle.

Step 6: Sewing the Bag

Fold the entire rectangle in half length-wise with the cotton fabric touching inside and the plastic material on the outside. Make sure none of the handles stick out or are near the edges. Pin in place. Do not sew the top side where the hem is. Sew the two open sides closed. Leave a 1/2 inch seam allowance and backstitch at the ends.

Now make the bottom square. Using both hands (it might help to put your hand inside the bag), flatten one of the bottom corners of the bag so that the bottom seam matches almost exactly with the side seam/edge. You will be able to feel when this happens and see the picture for reference. You will end up with a triangle of fabric sticking out the side of the bag. Take a ruler and move the ruler up until you measure that the triangle has a base of 2 inches (see picture). Draw a line across there to make the triangle base. Sew along this line a few times. Do this to both bottom corners. Then cut off the excess triangle.

Step 7: Finishing Up!

You are in the home stretch! You may carefully trim any excess fabric (be sure not to cut necessary stitches or inside your stitches). Now, turn out your bag.

To finish up the handles. Take one of the small handles and cut it until it is only 3 inches long. Thread the NON-forked part of the buckle onto the handle. Hem the end of the handle down 1/2 and inch and fold over the buckle piece. Pin then sew in place.

Leave the other small handle the length it is. Put the forked part of the buckle onto the handle in the typical fashion as if on a backpack. Measure down 2 inches from the loose end of the handle and then fold that length 3 times. Sew to form a little thick square at the end of the handle (this will keep the buckle piece from falling off).

Your blackberry picking bag is complete!

Step 8: How to Use

  1. Use the large handles on either side to carry the bag when the top is rolled closed or hold the bag when picking.
  2. Roll the top of the bag closed and clip the buckle shut to seal the blackberries in.
  3. Clip this bag to your backpack using the buckle.
  4. Or use the buckle handle to carry the bag when the top is rolled shut.
  5. Have fun blackberry picking!!!

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