DIY eco-friendly reusable and washable produce bags in any size

Hello, my crafty friends!!! Did you notice that there is an ongoing conversation around shopping bags? In England, from 21 May 2021, all retailers must charge a minimum of 10 pence for single-use carrier bags. Most of us already bring a reusable bag, tote or another alternative when shopping for groceries, otherwise, that extra cost adds up quickly. For some reason, the produce bags are left out of that conversation even though are one of those things that are typically used once and then thrown away. I think now is the time to take the matter into our own hands!

To make our weekly food shopping more sustainable we need to arm ourselves with some reusable produce bags.

In my opinion, a perfect produce bag should be:

  • lightweight, because it will be weighted along with the produce
  • washable, because I need to be able to use it time and time again
  • breathable, so the produce inside can stay fresh and dry
  • transparent, so I can see exactly what is inside (especially at the checkout)
  • strong, so it will last forever (or at least a very, very long time)
  • and, food safe

I chose to make my produce bags from a mesh fabric because it is light, transparent, a little stretchy, but strong. In all honesty, you can use nearly any fabric you want that has the above attributes. Curtain net, cotton muslin, voile, mesh tulle are some other great options, but for some, it might be difficult to see what is inside. I would definitely recommend using undyed natural fabric if you worry about food safety.

In this tutorial, I will explain what supplies you need, how to measure and cut the fabric to make your own eco-friendly reusable bags in any size you want! When you are ready to make one, watch my video tutorial on YouTube (link at the end of this post). You can sew a bunch of those produce bags, keep some inside of your shopping tote, and then use and wash them as needed. A great alternative to replace those flimsy one-use plastic bags on a roll that can be found in the supermarket.

Supplies needed

To make the reusable produce bags you will need:

  • a fabric of your choice for the main body of the bag
  • quilting cotton for the top contrasting trim
  • cord, string, ribbon etc. to close the bag

The amount of fabric you need will depend on how many bags you plan to make and how small or big they are. I made my eco-friendly produce bags in three sizes:

Height / Width

small 22 cm / 20 cm (8 3/4″ / 8″), medium 29 cm / 27 cm (11 1/2″ / 11″), large 37 cm / 35 cm (14 1/2″ /14″)

Having various bag sizes allows me to pack smaller quantities or sizes of fruit and veg in a smaller bag and larger quantities or bigger items in medium or large bags. Use my measurements to make your first bag to check if that size works for you. Otherwise, keep reading to find out how to measure and cut the fabric to make your produce bags in any size.

Height / Width

Supplies Small produce bag Medium produce bag Large produce bag
Cut x 1 mesh fabric (or similar) 42 cm /23 cm (16 1/2″ / 9″) 56 cm / 30 cm (22″ / 12″) 72 cm / 38 cm (28 3/8″ / 15″)
Cut x 2 quilting cotton 6 cm / 22 cm (2 3/8″ / 8 3/4″) 6 cm / 29 cm (2 3/8″ / 11 1/2″) 6 cm / 37 cm (2 3/8″ / 14 5/8″)
Cut x 2 cord 50 cm (19 1/2″) 64 cm (25 1/4″) 80 cm ( 31 1/2″)

Produce bags in any size

To make the produce bag in any size first decide on how wide and tall you want the bag to be. Keep in mind that the top contrasting trim is 2 cm (3/4″) tall. Another thing to remember is that you need to leave about a 5 cm (2″) cord tail on each side.

For the purpose of this tutorial I will make my bag 25 cm / 25 cm (9 7/8″ / 9 7/8″), so the main bag is 23 cm / 25 cm (9″ / 9 7/8″) + the 2 cm (3/4″) tall contrasting trim.

To measure and cut the mesh fabric follow the diagram below:

Height of the finished bag is 23 cm ( 9″), double it to allow for the front and back, so 46 cm (18″), then add 2 cm (3/4″) seam allowance.

The width of the finished bag is 25 cm ( 9 7/8″), but you also need to add a 3 cm ( 1 1/8″) seam allowance. The reason we add a 3 cm seam allowance and not a 2 cm is that side seams are finished with a french seam, and you need a bigger seam allowance for that. If you do not like to use french seam and want to use a serger (overlocker) to finish the seam add 2 cm seam allowance instead.

The contrasting trim is always 6 cm (2 3/8″) tall, and you only need to add 2 cm (3/4″) seam allowance to the width of your bag, so in my example, it is 27 cm (10 5/8″) wide.

To calculate how long is the cord simply double the width of your finished bag and add about 10 cm (4″) for the tails: (25 cm x 2) +10 cm = 60 cm

So to make a produce bag in my chosen size 25 cm / 25 cm (9 7/8″ / 9 7/8″) I need to cut:

one mesh fabric 48 cm / 28 cm ( 19 1/8″ / 11″)

two quilting cotton 6 cm / 27 cm (2 3/8″ / 10 5/8″)

two cord pieces 60 cm (23 5/8″)

Once you gather your supplies and cut the fabric head over to my YouTube channel. I have a video tutorial that will walk you through how to sew your eco-friendly produce bag! It is a super quick sew that you will not regret!!!

These eco-friendly produce bags help me avoid using plastic bags when shopping for fruits and vegetables and I can store them in my fridge because the mesh fabric allows the product inside to breathe. Plus, I can spread awareness every time I visit the grocery store and save our planet one bag at a time!

I would love to see your reusable produce bags, so join my Facebook group and share your makes!

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