I'd like to make my own grocery totes and need advice on the type of
I have a couple different kinds that I've purchased and loved, the
ideal fabric being that used in ChicoBags, here is their website:
Target also made a bag that had a less "shiny" cloth that seemed
reasonably durable, although not as much as the ChicoBag. You can see
this bag here:
anyone know where I can get either (or both!) fabrics to make myown totes?
Personally, I think this is the ideal (and greenest) opportunity to use
up some old strong ugly stash material. I would think heavy curtain
material, old jeans, canvas etc. would be perfect for the job.
I've run up a pair of shopping bags out of some heavy curtain lining
fabric that I no longer had a use for - perfect.
The Target bag is polypropylene fiber, I'm guessing spun-bonded at the price.
Couldn't tell anything about the Chico bag.
I'd use Cordura nylon or an equivalent heavy denier polyester tabby or oxford
It's the stuff they make backpacks and luggage out of, and will take a
tremendous amount of abrasion and abuse.
I use canvas remnants. Some I've gotten at the Mill End store, very
cheaply. Other pieces I've found in thrift stores. The size of my bags
is often determined by the length of the remnant. I remove the selvages
to use for handles, then fold the fabric and stitch the sides. So if I
have 24 inches of 54 inch wide canvas, my bag is 27 inches tall, 24
inches wide, less seams*. This leaves no seam at the bottom of the bag.
I fold over the top and hem it on the machine. Fold the selvage
strips and sew them so they have two or three thicknesses, attach them
to the hem, then fold in triangles at the bottom of the bag to whatever
width I want the finished "standing" bag to have.
The straps are attached with an "X" box - an "X" with stitching around
like a box. The resulting bag is very strong. The ones I have now are
about 10 or 12 years old and have been washed many times. I have some
interesting canvas I plan to use to make replacements. Not that I need
them - I'm just getting very bored with these!
*All measurements approximate due to seaming and removal of selvages.
"Sunny" wrote in message
It's the 'just begun' bit that stopped me in my tracks given that these
reusable bags are everywhere in Australia and have been for at least a
decade. All grocer shops have them and they have become almost as prolific
as plastic bags to the extent that most people I know would now be lost
Each of our cars has at least 10 of them stuffed in the pockets behind the
front seats and it's automatic to drag them out and take them into the
grocery store each time you do a shop.
But I digress. Polypropylene is what you need. I've yet to have any of my
bags wear out and that includes the light weight polyprylene which is what
the Target bags look like it's made from in the cite you provided. I have a
hot pink one designed to hold 6 bottles made out of that light weight stuff
and it's still tough even after carrying bottles for years. (And before you
ask, not booze but bottles of sauce/vinegar etc :-))))
This site shows some variations which might spark some design ideas. I keep
one that zips into a pocket in my handbag and it's extremely handy:
I feed seven people every day, and make two lunches, one morning, one
for my daughter who is a nurse working night shift. So we need a lot
of shopping bags. We use fabric shopping bags, and depending where we
bought them, the materials are different. The polypropeline ones are
tough; the canvas ones are fine, and we even have some from a thrift
store made of sheet plastic that are as tough as the fabric ones, and
we've had them for a couple of years. If I were to make them, I'd
probably go with canvas or poplin because it's easy to find, I can use
my one and only sewing machine to sew them. But they're so cheap I
haven't bothered to make them.
On Fri, 2 Jan 2009 15:22:55 +1100, "FarmI"
It's only in Target that they are just beginning -- I bought my canvas
bags at a grocery store near Albany, New York, which is pretty close
to the east coast, over ten years ago.
The cheaper non-woven bags are more recent, but I haven't bought any
because I like to run my food bags through hot water and bleach now
and again, and I suspect that something with cardboard in the bottom
isn't machine washable.
For many years now I have been using the "free" canvas tote bags you get
when you make a donation to a good cause. Most of them live in the back
of my car, and a few in the coat closet, ready for instant use, and
every so often I run them through the washer and dryer.
I am so glad others are catching up to me now, since a lot of grocery
store checkers were extremely resentful about packing cloth bags rather
than plastic. They didn't like packing paper ones, either.
Olwyn Mary in New Orleans.
I'm hoping to work out some construction designs of my own, and I very
much appreciate the tips for making different totes and for styles
that have worked.
Special thanks to those who recommended specific fabrics and websites
where I can find them. I am going to investigate further: supplex,
cordura, and polypropelene to figure out what's the optimal
combination of durability, "greenness", and wallet-friendliness. :)
I was impressed by quantity of responses, and that so many out there
already make there own! (And it sounds like Australia and the UK may
be well ahead of some of us here in the US, or at least Target stores
and me here in FL!) Many of you may already know about this, but for
those who don't, here's a organization that encourages people to make
their own bags - and to make bags to give away to passersby at the
grocery store - to spread the trend!
All of the bags I have came with removeable bottoms, except the
largest one, which is too big to be used for food other than boxes of
cereal or bags of pretzels.
Jenn Ridley : email@example.com
Canvas or poplin as stated in a previous post would probably be the best
if you are choosing new fabric.
As for bag construction: My vote would be to mimic a paper grocery bag.
ie: sew with a "box bottom". That way when your bag is open, it will
stand up and be ready to receive your groceries or other purchases.
The tote bags which are just sewn up three side with handles wouldn't
work very well for groceries, in my opinion.
I find it quite odd that there is cardboard in a 'reuseable' shopping bag.
To my way of thinking, that would only give it a few more uses than plastic
bags. The ones I get here come with a plastic removeable base and they wash
very well. Not that they need washing all that often if there is no major
spillage. My car is a mobile tip being a farm vehicle, but the bags still
stay reasonably clean.
Sarah Dale wrote in
I agree with the above. I made tons of tote bags out of stash, stash, and
more stash and gave them to a local group who shared them with a group of
parents who are not so well off. They used them for books, groceries,
My best large tote (that I use for book sales) is made of Colonial
Williamsburg fabric samples that I pieced together and lined with denim.
On Fri, 02 Jan 2009 13:36:13 -0600, Janice G
My canvas bags are strips of canvas folded in half -- apparently
hemmed and handled before cutting the strips -- sewn up two sides,
then the bottom was squared by serging off triangles at the lower
(I wonder whether there's a machine that overlocks both sides of a
cut, to facilitate the mass production of such bags.) (Sigh. I know
better than to Google. All the Web sites will say: "our product is
wonderful, our product is great, what our product is, we'll never
(Did Google; got forty zillion sites on how to make bags at home.)
(Ta Dah! Adding to the search got me
zillions of sites trying to sell overlockers to factories. None of
them were quite *that* specialized, and looking at the photographs
suggests to me that a two-needle overlocker with the knives between
the needles isn't quite possible.)
The bag I made myself was a strip sewn into a circle, hemmed, handled,
then sewn to a rectangle. The rectangle was underlined with a thin,
tough fabric -- I think I recycled a leg off old work pants -- to make
the bottom stronger and stiffer.
I made it to the precise dimensions of a paper grocery bag because the
wire panniers on my bicycle were made to the precise dimensions of a
grocery bag; I thought I'd have the bag filled in the store, then I
could set it down into the pannier without re-packing. Alas, bags
*bulge* when you dump stuff in; the bag would have worked fine for
hauling stuff out of the pannier, but I'd have to put the bag into the
basket first and then pack it. Hence the denim bag's subsequent life
as a knitting bag.
One pleasant change: nowadays packers don't freak out when you ask
them to throw stuff into the cart loose so that you can do your own
packing. At one time, it was actually illegal to allow a customer to
walk out of the store with something that wasn't in a store-provided
bag; leastways I encountered a security guard who had a hissy fit and
went inside to yell at the packers.
And Aldi, of course, not only allows you to pack your own groceries,
but provides a counter-height shelf to sort them on. I really
groove on their new system, where the checker throws the stuff
directly into a cart -- before the remodeling, she put it on a counter
and one had to strive vainly to throw it into the cart as fast as she
could check it.
I shop at Raley's, where they unload the cart, bag the groceries (in my
bags or my choice of paper-or-plastic), put them in the cart, take them
to my car and put them in the trunk. All at no extra charge. No
tipping allowed. They have excellent produce, meat and deli
departments, too. Not to mention a pharmacy where we pick up any
prescriptions and OTC medications and toothpaste, etc.
So far, I've been unable to convince them to send a bagger home with me
to carry the bags into the house and put the groceries away.