When we started carrying organic cotton mesh at Simplifi, I knew I wanted to write a blog post about making your own reusable produce bags – an obvious choice for the mesh. Canada is on its way to completely ban the use of single use plastics, including plastic bags, which is great, but in the meantime we are still discarding millions of tons of plastics that can't be recycled. A plastic bag may take hundreds or even thousands of years to degrade, therefor we all need to do our part NOW!
I started some half-hearted research, knowing that a produce bag would be a pretty straight-forward sew, and came across many tutorials ranging from very basic, to kinda less basic.
If you really want to spend time making yourself some beautifully crafted, bespoke produce bags, like this, by all means, fill your boots! However, if you're anything like me and utilitarian sewing projects aren't where you put your creative energy, then you may just want to make a few simple french seamed bags in different sizes like I did.
They are super simple and you can make a bunch assembly-line-style without even really measuring, and because the weave of the organic cotton mesh is so large, you won't even have to fiddle with openings for your drawstring channel! Here's how I made mine:
- Cut a rectangle of mesh fabric the width of your desired bag plus an inch x two times the length of your desired bag plus 2 inches.
- Fold your rectangle in half with wrong sides together and short sides aligned.
- With a 1/4" seam allowance, sew up both sides of the bag, backstitching at the beginning and end.
- Trim your seam allowances to about half. Because of the wide open weave of the fabric, just be careful not to cut too closely to your seamline.
- Turn the bag wrong side out (I know this is hard to visualize since this fabric doesn't really have a right or wrong side.. but you get it!) and press the seams flat.
- Sew back over these side seams with a 1/4" seam allowance encasing the raw edges.
- Turn the top edge to the wrong side by 1/4" and then again by 3/4" and edge-stitch close to the first fold to create a drawstring casing.
- Using an upholstery needle or plastic yarn needle, thread a length of cord through an opening in the mesh near one side seam all the way around the bag keeping your needle inside the channel and come back out near where you started. Trim both ends of the drawstring to about 5" longer than the width of the bag and tie the two ends together.
- Repeat the last step starting at the other side seam to create a double drawstring that synchs the bag in.
And that is it my friends! Told you it was simple. In fact, unless you are a very animated grocery shopper, you could probably even skip the drawstring altogether, simply hem the top edge and just trust your produce doesn't escape!
One nice thing about such a simple and adaptive technique, is that you can make these bags in any size to suit your needs. Are you someone who buys a lot of celery? Make yourself a long and slender bag specifically for those watery stalks. Do you need a constant supply of large and leafy kale? An extra large mesh bag should do the trick. You are the master of your own grocery shopping destiny!
Ok, so now you know how to make a super simple reusable produce bag with our organic cotton mesh, but what else can you use this unique fabric for? Are mesh produce bags about the only thing you can think of? Well I've created a Pinterest board that is sure to make you go "OHHHHH" but here are a few of my favourite ideas:
- Embellish a simple tee shirt pattern with mesh, à la Stella McCartney for Adidas – try the Lou Box top from Sew DIY for a sporty feel like this. Because of its 100% cotton content, this mesh could easily be dyed to suit your needs!
- Make a super sexy beach cover-up like this one from Out From Under using the Kwik-Sew K2982.
- Make a zippered mesh bag for washing lingerie (or your reusable makeup removing pads) using this tutorial from So Sew Easy.
- Make an over the door shoe organizer – or sewing fabric organizer – like this one from Bed Bath and Beyond using this tutorial from Fabric.com Breathability for your stinky shoes! Or visibility for your beautiful fabric stash!
You can find this awesome fabric here, and if you want even more inspiration and ideas for cotton mesh, check out our Pinterest board here. If you have any other ideas for using this delightful fabric then leave me a comment!
Thanks for stopping by! xo M