Eco Friendly Produce Bags - an upcycle tutorial

I've been using a set of bags like these for the past couple of years every week at the local market when we buy our fruit and vegetables. Over time, as our kids have grown and our eating habits have changed, the amount of fruit and vegetables we buy has increased, and at the same time some of my lovely little bags have disappeared. So it was time to make some more bags and I thought I'd post a little tutorial to show how easily you can make your own produce bags and never have to use plastic bags at the market - or supermarket again!

All you need is:
an old net curtain and some cord.

Here's how to make a simple drawstring produce bag.

1. Fold over the edge of the curtain to the width you'd like your bag. 
Mine are around 28 cm (11")

2.Cut where you have folded to, and also to the length of the bags you want. 
Again, mine are around 33 cm (13").

You can use the top of the curtain - or also the hem at the base as the casing for your drawstring. 

3.So now just pin 2 edges of your bag - the side opposite the fold, and what will be the base:

4. Stitch where you have pinned - but remember to leave the casing open at the top.
Don't stitch across that or you'll have nowhere to push your drawstring through!

5. Now turn your bag right sides out, and cut some cord double the width of your bag:

6. Using a large safety pin, thread your cord all the way through the casing at the top of your bag. 

7. Tie the two ends of the cord together..

And there you have one finished drawstring produce bag!

Now if your net curtain is large and you cut pieces that don't have a ready made casing in the form of the top or hem of the curtain, all you have to do to make your own is fold over the top edge of your piece of curtain like this:
Pin then stitch before folding your fabric and finishing your bag.

Note: I've been using bags like this for 2 years now and the seams have never frayed. I did not overlock (serge) or finish off the seams in any way - the net curtain fabric just doesn't seem to fray at all!

My single (short) net curtain that cost me a couple of dollars from the charity shop, made me 14 bags!  So I shouldn't run out again any time soon.

Strong, durable and eco-friendly! What could be better!

Do you use plastic bags for your fruit and vegetables?  
Why not make some of these and keep them in your car for next time you shop!

For more of my upcycling tutorials, take a look here.

Or I even have a whole e-book of sewing tutorials to make eco-friendly shopping bags - including a stylish handbag to carry them all in so you never forget them when you're shopping!

Happy upcycling!

T-shirt sleeves to pouches - an upcycle tutorial

I'm currently working on upcycling the old-style uniforms from my daughter's swim club.
First I made a few tote bags using the main backs of the t-shirts which had our club name on. You can see some pictures of those here.
Now I've made some small zipped pouches with the sleeves, lined with waterproof rip-stop nylon so they are ideal for carrying swim caps and goggles for our star swimmers. You could line these pouches with any kind of material you choose and use them as anything from a pencil case to a money pouch!

Here's how to make a small zipped pouch from a t-shirt sleeve:

First cut the sleeve from your t-shirt and trim off the seams and hem.

Then cut 2 rectangles from the fabric you have. I cut mine as large as I could from each size, so the pouches were varied sizes depending on the shirt size!
You also need to cut 2 more rectangles of fabric the same size for the lining. I used my scrap fabric stash for this - but you could always use the other sleeve from the t-shirt!. Then you need a zip which is approximately the size of the longer side of your fabric rectangle and a few scraps of each fabric you're using:

Adjust the zip length
First you need to make the zip the same length as the long side of your fabric rectangle.  To do this you need to use fabric scraps that are a little wider than the zip.
Place the scraps on either end of the zip with the right sides of the fabric facing in towards the zip. The outer fabric facing the outside of the zip, the inner fabric facing the inside of the zip. 
Pin these in place where you want the finished ends of the zip to be:

Before you stitch, pull back the fabric scraps to check you've got them pinned the right way - the fabric should form the new zip ends like this:

Stitch the scraps into place at either end of the zip. Be careful if you're stitching over the teeth of the zip. Go slowly and lift the foot a little if you need to to avoid snapping your needle!

Trim the fabric scraps so that they are in line with the zip edges:

Then you can pull the fabric back on both sides of the zip and it's ready to attach to the main pouch parts!

Attach the zip to the main pouch parts
Lay down one of your outer fabric rectangles with the right side of the fabric facing upwards.  Lay your zip on top of this with the right side facing downwards.  Then place one of the inner fabric pieces, face down on top of the zip:

Pin then stitch in place using the zipper foot attachment on your machine.

Then flip both fabrics back and top stitch close to the zip. This should prevent the fabric from catching in the zip when you open and close it.

Now repeat all of this with the other 2 fabric rectangles. So again place the outer fabric face up; then next the zip face down (so now both pieces of outer fabric should be right-sides together); then finally your last inner fabric piece face down on top:

Pin, then stitch, and once again flip the fabrics back and top-stitch close to the zip on the top of the fabric:

Here's what it looks like on the underneath:

Joining the outer and inner pieces together
Then put both outer fabric pieces on one side of the zip, and both inner pieces on the other side - with right sides of the fabric together in both cases!

Pin around all four edges, leaving a gap of a few inches to allow you to turn the pouch right sides out at the end.

Stitch where you have pinned, then trim the corners.

Now turn the pouch right sides out through the gap:

Pin and slip-stitch the opening closed. This seam will be on the inside of the pouch so you could just machine stitch it as it won't be seen!

That's it! You're done!

Fill it up and start to use your new upcycled zipped pouch!

For the free downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

For more ideas on ways to upcycle old t-shirts you can go here or follow my Upcycling T-shirts Pinterest Board.

Or for over 600 ideas for upcycling all kinds of old clothes, check out the long term linky here!

Have you upcycled any clothes lately?