Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Making Shopping Bags Until I Drop

I've been using cloth shopping bags conscientiously for years, but was running into issues in keeping them clean. Cloth shopping bags that hold your groceries ought to be washed fairly regularly, and many commercially made shopping bags either aren't washable or won't stand up to being washed very often. Moreover, they're generally butt ugly. I decided I wanted to make myself a good-looking set of cloth shopping bags that would last for years. An internet search for a tutorial for cloth shopping bags turned up a number of good ones, but I decided on Sew4Home's cloth bag tutorial. Their sample bag is depicted above.

And here is a photo of the set of six bags I produced. I used indoor/outdoor fabric, as the Sew4Home tutorial suggested. I did change the proportions of the bag slightly. The Sew4Home bags were 12" wide and 8" deep, whereas mine are 14" wide and 6" deep. Otherwise the bags are made exactly as the tutorial suggested. When I was buying the Fabricland and told the Fabricland sales associate what it was for, she said I should make sure I didn't make the straps too long, because then the bags would drag on the ground. I said, "That has never been a problem for me," and she said, "Really? Mine always do." I said, gently, "I am a good bit taller than you." She sized me up, took in the fact that the top of her head barely reached my shoulder (and at 5'5" tall, I am hardly statuesque), and burst into giggles. I didn't shorten the straps, and am happy to say that these bags ride a good ten inches above the ground when held in a hand hanging by my side. The straps are also long enough to allow for carrying the bags shoulder-bag style, which I'm sure I'll be glad of on future hikes home with a load of spoils. I'll be using the bags for all my shopping, not just groceries, as I try to never bring home a plastic shopping bag.

Making six of these bags was a bigger investment of money and time than I had expected, even though I shopped the clearance table for the fabrics. I went through a LOT of olive khaki-coloured thread (approximately 700 metres or 766 yards, as well as quite a bit of ivory thread. However, this set of bags should last at least ten years, if not longer.