Homemade Bulk Shopping Bags – Tutorial & Giveaway

Post by Contributing Writer, Emily

We’ve all become accustomed to bringing along our big grocery bags when we go shopping. It’s a great habit that slowly but surely has an impact on the waste we produce as food consumers!

Today we’ll take that reusable bag habit a step further and create small bags with built-in tags for all your bulk purchases. I always carry two types of bags when I am grocery shopping: mesh for produce and muslin for cereals, beans, grains, flours, etc.

Let’s get started.

In addition to your choice of fabric and your basic sewing supplies, you will need a length of cord a few inches longer than the opening of your finished bag.

I also insert a small rectangle of clear plastic shower curtain to use as a tag on the side of my bags. You can write the product number onto this tag with a dry erase pen or a grease pencil. (I purchased a cheap plastic shower curtain for less than $1 and probably won’t run out of the plastic material for years!)

Cut 2 rectangles from your fabric keeping in mind that your finished bag will end up slightly smaller. Following the diagram, sew the two pieces right side together. Don’t forget to tuck in the plastic tag before sewing up the side.

Click on the Photo for a Larger Image View

Fold the top (open) edge of your bag over twice to the inside and sew in place creating a casing for your cord. Leave a small (1/2 inch) opening on one side. Attach a safety pin to one end and thread your cording though the hole and around the top of your bag.

Tie a knot at each end to keep the cord from slipping back inside and melt down the ends of your cording with a candle to keep it from unraveling.

Your finished product will be a waste free and functional bag that you will use often!


We are giving away the set of 3 bags pictured here! Approximate sizes (12×13″ 9×12″ 9×10″)

Just leave a comment on this blog post to be entered. Giveaway closes Wednesday 1/11/12 at midnight. Winner will be chosen by random.org and notified by Friday.

Emily lives in Salt Lake City with her husband Jeremy and their 3 wild and crazy kiddos! She loves reading, running, baking yummy treats for her family, her early morning yoga, walking to the library and all things creative and crafty. She especially enjoys exploring nature with her children and learning side by side with them. You’ll find her chatting about all aspects of life at her blog, Industrious Emily* and also sharing her crafty side through the blog, Life at the Table.

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51 comments to Homemade Bulk Shopping Bags – Tutorial & Giveaway

  • Thanks for the chance to win a set of these.

    I’d been trying to figure out how to stop using so many bags. I used to shop at a co-op that allowed me to bring in my own jars (and even provided washed jars & plastic tubs that were given for reuse instead of recycle). You just weighed the container before filling it up & they’d enter that amount @ the register.

    But since we’ve moved, this cool option (and the amazing bulk selection) are no longer. I still buy in bulk, but have resorted back to using plastic bags.

    My one question: Do the plastic tabs hold up in the washing machine? Or do you just shake them out and not run them through?

    Emily Reply:

    @Diana, I think it is best to just shake out the bags or rinse them by hand when needed. I have sent a few through the washing machine a time or two and they have held up fine.

  • Erin S

    This has been on my to-do list for a couple of years. You’d think I could have blocked out just a little time to get them done, but no. Love the plastic tabs!

    I’d love to win, but if not, I’ll just have to schedule it into my month. We’ll see.

  • Holly

    I love this tutorial, I’ll be making these for everyone I know. I have a set of mesh bags I bought a while ago and I reuse containers for my bulk items. I often forget my containers though because if I leave them in my trunk they get broken. These bags would do the trick. For Diana above, I bet if you ask at your local grocery store, they’d weigh your containers for you and let you use them for bulk items. The Wegman’s by me does. I bring tupperware containers and write the item number right on the container. Never hurts to ask!

  • LOVE these bags! So awesome!!!

  • Vanessa

    These are great. Thank you for sharing. I’m not sure I would have thought to do this otherwise.

  • Scarlet

    I have been needing to make some of these for so long and never seem to have the time! A great tutorial, and reminder! Thanks

  • Woohoo! I love this! Thank you for sharing this idea and tutorial along with the giveaway!

  • Enjoy so much reading your post. I have learned so much since receiving your information.

    Thank You,
    P J

  • Tracy

    Perfecto!! I would love to win these bags. They would get used every other day when I go to the natural foods store. Thanks.

  • Jackie Leyba

    I would LOVE to win these!!!! I’ve been wanting to make / get reusable shopping bags for awhile now!!! Thank you for the opportunity!!!

  • Bhriana

    cool! I’d love to win these :)

  • These are on my to do list for this year as well as to make some for family members for Christmas next year. We use way too many plastic bags – it would be nice to cut down on our waste. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  • KimH

    Those are so cute! Thanks so much for the opportunity to win then & for sharing how you make them! Have a great day!

  • Heather

    I would love to have some of these. I have mesh ones for produce and love them.

  • Holly

    So you do the same thing to make mesh ones? I would think that would be difficult! Otherwise this would be amazing to win! I get so sick of all the bags I end up with.

    Emily Reply:

    @Holly, I follow the same steps with mesh and it isn’t hard to work with. I make sure that my seams are done at a short stitch length and I’ll sometimes even cover my straight stitch with a tight zig zag, just to make sure it’s nice and secure!

    Tammy F Reply:

    I have a question about the mesh too…what kind of fabric do you use? I’m a newbie therefore need guidance :) Thanks again for your help and suggestions.

  • Laura

    This is such a good idea! I will have to make some if I don’t win :)

  • aj

    yes, i would love these bags…great for the natural foods store bulk bins.

  • I literally *always* think of you when I’m guiltily stuffing bulk contents into plastic bags at WinCo. (Nevermind that they are great reused for picking up dog poop.) Thank you for posting this tutorial! I need to make some of these!

  • Britney

    These are great! I would love a set and will definitely have to make some to go with the other reusables I’ve got :) Thanks for the tutorial!

  • Robin

    Thanks for the tutorial! Love the plastic tab on the side! Always looking for ways to be greener. I have some mesh bags, but would love to have some muslin as well! I will be making some for sure ( :

  • Beth

    Love this!! I am pinning it. I would love to win these.

  • Just found this on pinterest! What a great idea. I just came home from a huge shopping trip to the bulk foods section and realized I had WAY too many plastic bags come home with me. If I don’t win, I may have to try to make some. How does the muslin work with flours or other powdery foods?

    Emily Reply:

    @Laura N., Whenever I pick up new muslin or any type of fabric to make a new set of bags I make a small one and test it out first! Look for a tight weave and there should be little problems!

  • Becki M

    This is a great idea! I’m going to make some of these up, although I would LOVE to win them too!

  • Franni

    these are great! and smart:)

  • Lynnette

    Great looking bags and thanks much for sharing the tutorial on how to make them. I hadn’t even thought to make my own bags, just purchase the 99¢ ones that tear or split open with extra weight in them. LOL!
    Thanks again… lynnette

  • maria

    These look great, I’d love to win them! Thanks!! :-)

  • Julie

    thanks for the chance to win these cool bags!

  • Leah A.

    One of my goals is to remember back to Home ec and how to sew. That and find someone who is willing to let me use their sewing machine… ;*)

  • These look neat! Cheer’s for frugality. :)

  • Cathy Byrd

    Love those bags. Makes me think of days gone by where lady’s would go shopping once a month and gather up their essentials – flour, sugar, etc.
    Those were the days – these are the days :)
    Nice Job! :)
    Cathy Byrd

  • charity

    What a great idea! I never even though of that!

  • DanielleJ

    LOVE these! I currently use mesh bags for produce, but this is brilliant for bulk items!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • […] cloth grocery bags. You’ll save tons of plastic over time, and help the environment […]

  • Thanks for the reminder! I always have my big bags in the car, but I’ve been falling back on using plastic for bulk grains. I love the muslin bag idea (though even this simple project may be beyond my sewing abilities).

  • michelle waite

    I made several bags and I love using them. I need to make more and the plastic tab is a great idea. I think I have an opened shower curtain from the dollar tree sitting around the house somewhere. I will have to find it and use it for this project.

  • Tammy F

    These are great! How awesome to find a reuseable bulk bag, then make them yourself. Thank you for sharing the tutorial and for the giveaway!!

  • Erin R

    I wish I could sew! Not that I’d have time with a newborn and 3 others 5 and under :) I’ve been wanting some bulk bags for a while

  • Erin

    These bags look amazing! I’d love them for all the little items that would otherwise get lost in the bag – thinking garlic, ginger, and loose citrus, etc. :)

  • Sherry

    Always looking for ways to use less packaging (reduce, reuse, recycle)… these bags are a great idea! I’d love to win a set 😀

  • illya gonzalez

    What a great idea. I’m totally up for it!

  • What a great idea! I don’t sew, but have friends that do. I’ve wondered how I can take my jars in to fill (saving the disposable bag) but don’t see how the store could weigh it empty and then subtract that from the weight at register after filling. As long as the material is cheap, this is a great solution. TFS!

  • June

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing with us.

  • a8ala

    Been looking at doing this. Would love this as a ‘starter’ kit.

  • I once made produce bags out of tulle and yarn…they worked ok, but these look like they would last longer! Thanks for hosting a giveaway =)

  • […] cloth grocery bags. You’ll save tons of plastic over time, and help the environment […]