4 Best Reusable Shopping Bags to Make

The 4 Best Reusable Shopping Bags to Sew

Reusable shopping bags are the way to go for sustainable living and convenience.

Sewing your own reusable shopping bags is economical and eco-friendly. These are 4 are great reusable shopping bags to make for grocery shopping, famers markets, and even shopping at your favorite clothing store.

Why choose reusable shopping bags?

So many communities are now charging customers for single use plastic or paper bags these days.

Right now, all stores in Colorado charge you 10 cents for using one of their paper or plastic bags. With a full grocery trip for a family that can really hurt the budget.

Having a stash of reusable shopping bags in the car, the closet and your purse can save you money as well as the environment.

How many reusable shopping bags do you need?

Short answer…

A lot.

I find that having a mix of different reusable shopping bags works best. I use different bags for different purposes.

What reusable shopping bag is the best?

The answer is “it depends.” The best bag depends on how you will use it.

I find that you need a good mix of large and small, sturdy and lightweight, and some really packable bags to meet all your shopping bag needs.

Reusable Bags for Grocery Shopping and Farmers Markets:

canvas grocery bag

I use these Canvas Shopping Bags for grocery shopping.

They are roomy with a large, boxed bottom so you can fit a ton of boxes and cans. They work great for larger bags of fruit, onions, potatoes, and the like.

The sewing pattern includes 2 sizes, modelled after the grocery store canvas shopping bags we bought years ago.

We have 6-8 in each car for grocery shopping and to use as the farmer’s market.

reusable grocery bag box

We always have at least one of the very sturdy Shopping Box Bags in the car. They house all the canvas bags so it’s really easy to tote everything to the store.

The best part of these Shopping Box Boags is just how much they hold. With a flat bottom and rigid sides, you can load all of the heavy cans and larger cereal boxes with room to stack smaller things on top.

Made with easy to replace rigid side and bottom supports, these box bags are 100% washable and you can easily replace smooshed sides, should the dog sit on the box bag…

mesh produce bags

We use these Mesh Produce Bags for grocery shopping every week.

The sewing pattern has 3 assorted sizes and since they’re made from mesh fabric, they weigh next to nothing.

A way better option than using the flimsy plastic produce bags that may or may not be available in the produce section. They keep well with veggies or fruit in the fridge too.

We keep 5-7 of these Mesh Produce Bags in the car with the stash of grocery bags.


Reusable Bags for Everyday Shopping:

roll up shopping bag

I keep two of these Roll Up Shopping Bags in my purse.

They roll up small and compact and are easy to unroll with one hand.

I use them weekly for everyday shopping trips or quick trips to the liquor or grocery store.

foldable shopping bag

These Foldable Shopping Bags are super cute. They stuff into their own stuff sack and look like a strawberry when stuffed.

Easy to open with one hand and very quick to re-stuff into their corner pouch, just pull the drawstring and you’re done.

I keep one in my car and one my purse for everyday purchases as well.


What is the best material for reusable shopping bags?

The best fabric really depends on the type of bag.

Using heavy weight canvas to store parsley in the fridge is going to result in soggy parsley and a moldy bag. Whereas using a lightweight mesh isn’t going to cut it for carrying cans of beans home from the grocery store.

Additionally, any reusable shopping bag must be washable. Especially if used for food, your reusable shopping bags absolutely MUST be washable and washed regularly.

It really is a good idea to pre-wash your fabric before you start sewing any of these bags to prevent shrinking your perfectly sized bag when you pop it in the washing machine.

Having purchased canvas grocery bags from our main grocery store years ago, I found out the hard way that these totally shrink in the wash. We ended up with a little ball of crunched up canvas, not ideal.


Make your own reusable shopping bags.

Being able to make my own reusable shopping bags in different fabrics and sizes has really been a life changer. In my quest to make the perfect reusable shopping bag, I ended up making not one, but several different reusable bag sewing patterns.

1) The canvas grocery bags are sewn with pre-washed cotton canvas.

canvas grocery bag

They have a large capacity and flat bottom so they’re easy to load at the self-checkout lane in the grocery store.

The long handles fit over your shoulder to haul heavy loads. You can use store bought or upcycled canvas fabrics.

I have used cotton canvas fabric and repurposed curtains for my grocery bags. Made with webbing handle straps, these are a quick sew for anyone and the sewing pattern is beginner friendly.

2) The mesh produce bags are a lightweight drawstring bag that hold up well with wet or dry produce and work great in the fridge or on the counter.

mesh produce bag

These bags come in 3 different sizes for smaller items like garlic or lemons. The medium sized bags can hold produce like peaches or parsley. The largest size produce bag is great for broccoli or leeks or large leafy greens.

They can be washed on delicate and hung to dry. They can be color coded by size (that’s how I use them) to make grabbing the right size bag easy in a crowded grocery store or busy farmers market stall.

Using either cotton or poly mesh fabric is a little trickier to sew with than your standard cotton fabrics, so this is a good sewing pattern for the advanced beginner. You can find the mesh fabric and other materials online or at larger craft stores.

3) The Shopping Box Bag is the sturdiest of all bags, made with canvas on the outside and lined with cotton fabrics, this bag gains its structure and support from removeable cardboard inserts.

Shopping Box Bag

With easy to remove rigid side and bottom inserts, this bag is very heavy duty and completely washable. You can replace the rigid inserts any time you need and these bags can go in the wash just like any other fabric bag.

This sewing pattern is designed for the advanced beginner or intermediate sewist in mind and can be made using only a standard sewing machine. Using heavier weight fabrics like canvas or denim will make a long lasting bag that is fully lined with cotton. No interfacing is used in this project and the side/bottom inserts can be made using recycled cardboard from boxes or plastic mesh canvas.

4) The Roll Up Shopping Bags can be made using lightweight quilting cottons or even poly fabrics like ripstop or nylon.

roll up shopping bag

The Roll Up Shopping Bag is foldable using a small piece of elastic to hold the roll in place. This bag is made with French Seams for a very sturdy bag that doesn’t need a serger to get professional quality finished seams.

This is a very easy sewing project for the confident beginner.

The Fold Up Shopping Bag uses lightweight cotton or poly fabrics and features a drawstring channel on the bottom corner so this shopping bag is foldable and stuffs right up into a compact pouch.

fold up shopping bag

This tote bag also uses French Seams for an easy to make and very sturdy bag. You can make the handles from the same or coordinating fabric or even use webbing, the possibilities here are endless.

These bags are smaller than the Canvas Grocery Bags and fold up to a nice packable purse size. I use these for shopping at clothing stores and farmers markets, as well as the quick run to the grocery store.

With endless color options these make great gifts and are a quick sew for advanced beginner sewists.

Your next sewing project.

You can find some more great bag sewing patterns at Sage Sewing Patterns.

Happy Sewing!


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