When attempting to reduce your waste, one of the first things you might do is to begin purchasing bulk products - such as dried beans, rice, and other pantry items - with your own, reusable, fabric bags.
Although there are many options on the market, it can also be fun and rewarding to make your own. Back when I started adopting a zerowaste lifestyle, I made my first set of fabric bags with a bed sheet that I no longer needed. Years later, many of them are still in regular use.
Since I happened to have a nice scrap piece of linen at home, I thought I'd take you through the simple process of sewing your own bags.
Begin with a large rectangle, or (in my case) two smaller, identical rectangles. (I was working with what I had on hand, but it's easier to start with one piece)
These pieces are about 13"x14.5" each.
Alternatively, begin with a large rectangle measuring about 26"x14.5" and skip step 2.
Be sure to wash, dry, and iron your fabric before starting any sewing project. I use a secondhand, vintage iron and a glass spray bottle with water for creating steam. I love this iron! It's heavy, built to last, and doesn't turn off automatically, which I prefer.
Since I started with two smaller rectangles, I had to first sew them together along one edge. Just skip this step if you are using one piece.
In this step you will be creating an edge for your cord to pass through the top of your bag.
Fold back the upper two corners of your fabric. I made this fold about 2" long.
Sew the two edges down.
Raw side up, fold down the top edge about 1", leaving adequate space for your cord to go through, and sew.
I stitched this seam twice for extra support.
Now, sew the remaining two edges together. Be sure to start under the channel for the cord - you want to leave that part open.
You might want to reinforce these with a zigzag stitch. For the sake of simplicity, I sewed one, straight, center stitch.
To create a box pleat on the bottom of your bag (totally optional) sew across each of the bottom corners. My seam was 5" across on each corner. (The bag is still inside out at this point.)
Trim off the corners. (Again, you can reinforce with zigzag stitch if you'd prefer.)
Turn your bag right-side-out and press the seams with an iron. This will help to set the stitches.
Next, you will feed your cord though the fabric channel you have created at the top. I like to knot one end, attach a safety pin to the knot, and feed the safety pin through. This cord is just what I happened to have on hand at home. It is 100% cotton.
Once your cord is through, just tie a simple knot to secure.
After filling with bulk pantry items, I like to wrap the cord around the top of the bag and tie once for a more secure closure.
If you'd like to, have a cashier weigh your empty bag, You can then note the tare (or empty bag weight) on your bag with a sharpie or fabric marker.
These scraps are 100% linen - so they will be composted with the rest of our scraps!
I hope you find this tutorial helpful. Please, tag me in your Instagram photos when you sew your own - I'd love to see them!