Well Being

DIY Time! How To Sew Your Own Produce And Bulk Bags

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reusable produce bag pattern

By now you've definitely heard that, to cut down on your use of new plastic materials (and your exposure to BPA), it's a good idea to switch to purchasing more items in bulk, and employing reusable produce bags. And while there are plenty of cute, functional ones available on Etsy and other places online, if you're even remotely crafty and have some leftover material, you can also really easily just make your own. Here's a super-simple bulk or produce bag pattern (with directions!) to get you started.

Basically, a produce or bulk bag is just a regular drawstring bag that you'd make in Sewing 101–which means the “pattern” is pretty much just two squares of the material of your choice. But if you want your bags to last a while, it's good pay attention to some of the finer points, and pick good materials.

For produce bags, it's wise to use mesh or some other kind of netted material, so that water can easily drain out. Old nylons, tulle, a torn mosquito net–any kind of porous fabric.

For bulk, it's a little more flexible–you can basically use anything you want, though it helps to use something stretchy (like jersey knit), so you can fit a lot into them. I used one of my boyfriend's old t-shirts that was in his clothing donation pile for this tutorial, but you can really use almost anything.  Just make sure that when you use them, you weigh the bags (ask an attendent to help you tare them when you're weighing the food out, so you don't pay for the weight of the bag itself) first.

You'll also want to make sure your bag is big enough to fit, say, several apples, a substantial amount of grains, or a heart of romaine or two. Here are the notions:

produce bag pattern

  • Two squares of fabric, about 13″ by 17″ each (they can be smaller or bigger, if you want). You can iron them first, if you like. It's usually a good idea.
  • About 18 inches of cord, ribbon, or other kind of draw-string (again, as long as it's washing machine safe, you're in the clear). I used some old bias tape I had lying around.
  • Some straight pins, to pin the two pieces together. If you can, find some with ceramic heads–they don't use plastic.
  • An iron
  • Thread and a sewing machine (or thread and a needle and a steady, tight-sewing hand)

That's pretty much it. It's really very simple. Now, here's what you do:

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