I’ve been getting crafty with my super-creative grandma again and this time we combined my love of food and crafts and made reusable produce bags. I was over at her house recently and saw that she’d been working on some mesh bags with vegetable print fabric and once I realized what they were I demanded asked for a tutorial. Somewhat frequently I end up with a couple small pieces of produce (peppers, ginger, limes) that I don’t want kicking around the fridge on their own, but I also don’t want to leave in a plastic bag to get yucky, so I’ve been thinking about buying some little bags like this. But why buy it if you can custom make it?
I made my bags with mosquito netting, which is softer than a lot of mesh you would find at the fabric store and it stands up to abuse from pokey stems and trips through the washing machine. Plus, you can buy a lot of for pretty cheap at any outdoor or camping store. For fabric, I just used scraps I had in my stash, but you could easily find fruit or veggie fabric or use fabric to color code your bags to help you stay organized.
For the small bag you need:
fabric pieces (2) 4 inches x 17 inches
netting piece 8 inches x 18 inches
ribbon piece 28 inches (1/2 to 1 inch wide)
For the large bag you need:
fabric pieces (2) 4 inches x 23 inches
netting piece 12 inches x 24 inches
ribbon piece 34 inches (1/2 to 1 inch wide)
1. Cut all your pieces. The netting stretches and is slippery, so be careful to let it lay flat when you cut it.
2. Make the drawstring edge. Take one strip of fabric and press in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Then fold each raw edge in toward the middle and press again. Now fold the strip in half width-wise and mark the middle. This is probably the hardest part of the project, you need to make a 3/4″ buttonhole where you marked the middle, on the outside of one side of the strip and through just one layer of fabric. This is where the ribbon loop will come out.
3. Attach the drawstring edge to the netting. Fold the ribbon in half and pull the loop through the buttonhole and lay both remaining lengths along the middle fold line toward each end. Make sure about 1 inch of ribbon sticks out at the ends of the fabric strip. Now sandwich the long edge of the netting between the folded edges of the fabric strip and pin in place. Sew along the bottom edge of the strip making sure to NOT sew through the ribbon (or the drawstring won’t work). If this seems too tricky, so you can leave the ribbon out, sew the edge, then thread the ribbon through by attaching to a safety pin.
4. Attach the netting to the bottom of the bag. Press the remaining piece of fabric in half width-wise, wrong sides together. Fold open the fabric strip and lay the netting on top, matching the edges together, right sides together. Sew across a 1/2″ seam. Now open up the fabric and netting and lightly press flat. Now fold the seam allowance over the fabric and sew in place.
5. Finish the bag. Fold the whole bag, right sides together, in half. Make sure that there is about 1/2 inch of ribbon sticking out of each end. Pin in place and sew around the bottom edge and up the side (being careful not to pull the netting), back stitching at the top of the bag. Now sew a zigzag stitch along the edge to (or overcast) to prevent fraying. Trim any excess and turn the bag right side out.
Once you make one of these, I think you’ll get the hang of it and have no problem making a bunch more without referring back to the instructions. And then you’ll never have to use plastic produce bags again. Or at least your produce won’t be roaming around the crisper and getting into places it shouldn’t.
I don’t know about you, but around here plastic grocery bags aren’t just frowned upon, but outlawed. At the same time, I’m not sure they’ll ever get rid of plastic produce bags any time soon. Do you still have plastic bags where you live? Would you ever take your own reusable produce bags to the store to avoid using their produce bags (or do you already)?