Friday, January 7, 2011

stylishly green

I've been making up a bunch of these reusable grocery totes over the last few weeks. (Using Simplicity 2806, view B) Some for me, some for my friends.
I tweaked the pattern a bit - I like the "pocket" for these sorts of bags to be attached, part of the bag, instead of a separate little pouch. So I used the same pattern piece, but then I sewed it right onto the bag front. I just eyeballed it. Some are a little crooked, maybe.
Then, it seemed like I needed something to cinch it shut. So I folded over the top of the pocket and made a casing for a drawstring, and added a strip to the bag just behind that, open at the ends, for the rest of the casing. I used two lengths of macrame cord (or shoestrings, whatever I had that matched), about 6" longer than the casings, threaded through and looped back on themselves. So each knotted set is of the same cord, making the cords pull against themselves to shut the top (see pics - it's tough to describe).

The loop with the lobster clasp (or Mickey Mouse ears - the recipient of that particular bag is a big Disney fan) is just a short length of the same bias used to bind the top edges of the bag. I sewed that in as I made the pocket. Some of my clasps came with a ring on the end meant for this sort of thing, but others didn't. I just used a split ring for those without, joined to the bottom of the clasp.
I haunt the remnant bins at a few of my local fabric stores to get the ripstop nylon. That stuff ain't cheap, so you've got to at least get the 1/2 off remnant price. You can cut 3 sides of a bag from the width (you need at least 2/3 yd for the right length) so this meant I sometimes had one extra side. I especially like the two-tone bag that resulted from this round, so I really don't mind that.
The pattern says to cut out 4 sides, and use 2 as lining, but that seemed pricey and excessive to me, just to finish those edges and such. Instead, I sewed all seams with french seams (mock, I suppose, as I did them by machine), and added the bias binding at the top and side openings. Much better use of materials, and the bag is so much cuter. As it's ripstop, two layers is not necessary for strength.

Just tuck one of these in your purse, and save yourself the guilt of plastic bags.
I personally don't need the reminder of having it hooked to my bag where it's obvious, so mine are generally wandering loose in the bottom of my purse, but for those that aren't in the habit yet, hooking the little pouch to their purse strap helps keep it in mind.

I've been using my own bags for a couple of years now (maybe even three?), and I swear, I still haven't had to resort to buying garbage bags, because I still haven't run out of plastic bags from all the years before. Sure, every once in a while I end up with plastic. Sometimes, I've been out shopping a lot, and all my bags are full. Sometimes, I've gone out shopping in someone elses' car, so I only have the 2 or 3 smaller ones that fit in my purse. Sometimes, I just wasn't fast enough at the check-out. But going home with an occasional plastic bag, vs getting dozens every time I shop? I think that's an improvement.

I've recently found a free pattern for this cute carrot version (but now I can't find it again so I can give you the link....I'll get back to you with that) (found it! what an awesome pattern!) and then came across some orange ripstop, so as soon as I finish the rest of this plain one, I'll cut some of those. I purchased one just like it last year, and I love it to pieces.
(You can get one of your own, no assembly required, here.)

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