A trip to Costco today brought up one of my pet peeves about our society: packaging. So many things that are sold these days come in massive amounts of packaging. For me, this not only seems a waste, but as a very lazy person it means more work for me, either dumping the rubbish, or going to the recycling center.
The biggest annoyance are plastic bags. If you've ever driven past the central Maui landfill you know what a problem throwing them out can be. I quit my Masters program in Environmental Policy and Management because I'm not enough of an environmental nut to care that much, but plastic bags seem excessively wasteful even to me.
Needless to say I was thrilled when reusable bags started popping up all over Maui. My favorites were from Star Market, because they folded up nicely:
Unfortunately the recycled material they were made wasn't exceptionally strong and the handles started ripping. So, I decided to use the bags I had as a pattern and made my own. Here's how!
What you'll need:
1/2 yard of heavy-weight fabric 60" width
1" of velcro
1 1/2 yards of 1/4" double fold bias tape*
Fold the fabric in half to cut the following:
1 Rectangle 33" x 16.5"
2 Strips 17" x 2.5"
1 Rectangle 7.5" x 11.5" (one end will be rounded off)
The handles are folded in half, right-sides together and sewn with 1/4" seam and turned right side out. I over-stitched the edge with the seam to help the handles keep their shape.
After rounding one end of the pocket as shown below, cover the edge of the pocket all the way around with the double fold bias tape (*I'll discuss an alternative at the end). Sew the velcro in place (the fuzzy side is sewn on the outside of the pocket, 2" from the top edge, the pokey side is sewn on the under side of the flap).
The rounded edge of the pocket will end up as a flap. When you sew the pocket to the bag, the bottom seam will be 8" from the top (the dashed line in the drawing), not along the curved edge. Sew the pocket to the bag 4 3/4" from the top edge of the bag and 3 3/4" from the fold that creates the bottom of the bag.
The handles are sewn at each end with each side of the handle 2 1/4" from the center. The edges of the handles will line up with the top edges of the bag. When the top is hemmed the handles will stand up.
Fold the bag in half, right sides together and sew edges together. Finish by hemming the top of the bag under by about 1". Topstitch as close as possible to the top edge of the bag to secure the handles. Finally, fold up, pressing as you go to establish the folds for future use.
*Some notes and suggestions.
Instead of using bias tape around the pocket you could line the pocket by cutting two of the pockets (there will be enough fabric in your 1/2 yard) and sewing them right sides together along the long sides and curved end and then turning right side out and folding under the top. When cutting, you'd need to add at least a 1/4 inch all around the pocket for seams.
Also, if you want you can line the bag. You'd need an additional 1/2 yard of lining fabric from which you'd cut an extra bag piece (you wouldn't need to do extra handles, and if you want to line the pocket, as above, you could do so from either the outer fabric or the lining fabric). You'd sew the two bags separately (the lining would be sewn with the right side in), and place the inner bag in the outer bag before hemming and hem the outer bag over the inner bag (the inner bag should be about 1" shorter than the outer bag).