make your own reusable produce bags

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Life is good...now.  Tomorrow is the last day of swimming lessons, I recently got my car back since not having it for 6 days, and stuff like that.  Yesterday I did things that I just needed to do to feel like a happy mom: take the kids to swim, tidy, and run.

This morning I am very happy to share my homemade reusable produce bags with you.  I've been careful to take detailed photos of the process for those of you new to sewing.  This is a great newbie project that I would strongly encourage you to try if you have a sewing machine.

Come take a look...

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A couple things I love about these bags is the personal touch in the homemade label (this particular bag has Caroline's print), the splash of color in the drawstring,

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and that the bags cinch!   It makes the whole process of bagging produce at the grocery store, farmer's market, or in your own backyard so much easier.

The idea of reusable produce bags came to me after fumbling around with all of those hundreds of little plastic baggies after my shopping trips.  "There must be a better way" led me to looking for the perfect mesh to create my own produce bag.  I found a common mesh that is durable and comes in a few colors, right at my local fabric store.  You could use tuile, but I loved the round holes in this mesh.  It is the mesh that many people use to make homemade scrubbies for their kitchen.

And then the perfect ribbon, or in my case, seam binding I discovered at my local fabric outlet.  You want something lightweight so it doesn't add up price wise when you're paying by the pound for your produce.  You could use grosgrain or any other simple ribbon or cord.

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Making your own reusable produce bags:

  • a piece of mesh measuring 32 inches x 14 inches
  • ribbon or seam binding, 2 yards cut in half
  • homemade labels (optional)
  • coordinating thread
  • safety pin
  • pinking shears

 

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Begin at one of the short ends and fold under 1/2 an inch and use your fingers to firmly press it down.  Then fold over another inch and press it with your fingers again.  Sew the folded edge beginning and ending with a backs stitch to enforce the ends.  This is where the ribbon will be threaded through to create the cinching top.

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Repeat on the other short end of mesh.  It should look like this above.

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Fold your long mesh piece on itself, right sides together.  If you're sewing in a label, slide it in between the unsewn side where you would like it.  Remember that the label should be flush with the mesh bag's side since the bag is technically inside out.

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Stitch 5/8 inch seam allowance on both sides of the bag, starting and ending with a back stitch.  Only sew up to the perpendicular stitch at the top of the bag.  The top of the bag's openings need to stay open for threading the ribbon.

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Trim the side seams a bit, especially the label.

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Pin a large safety pin to one end of your ribbon.

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Thread it through one of the openings at the top of the bag.

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Thread it all the way through until it comes out of the other end.

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Take the pin out and and pin it in the other piece of ribbon.

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Thread the ribbon through the opposite end of where you threaded the last piece of ribbon.  This may looking confusing at first, but this is how you will achieve a cinching bag.  Simply thread the second ribbon right around the first ribbon.

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Now you should have equal ribbon ends on each side of your bag.

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Trim about one inch off of each side and then, with pinking shears, trim the ends and tie a knot.

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Turn your bag right side out.  You're finished!

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I've used my produce bags a few time with much success.  A few times around my garden and my neighbors'.  Instead of heading out the door with a bulky bowl, I could keep the produce bag in my back pocket until I needed it.  I filled it with tomatoes, cinched, and walked away.  You can keep your not-quite-ripe produce on the windowsill in the bag or just use it for the transporting inside.  I made one for my mom to easily bring her lettuce in from the garden right into the fridge.

I used them again at the grocery store.  I kept all of my produce bags folded up in my purse until I needed them.  I filled, paid, loaded up, and took most of them right into my refrigerator once home, and the other ones, I simply emptied for the non-refrigerated produce.

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These can easily be cleaned with water and soap and a little scrubbing.  I let them air dry (which takes like 10 seconds) and then fold up and store until then next use.

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Because they are so easy to whip up, about 15 minutes or less per bag, this would be a great Christmas gift give as a set.  The coordinating of ribbon and label really makes them pretty bags.

Are you going to try your hand at some produce bags?  I'd love to hear!