Sep 4, 2011

Tutorial: Fat Quarter Reusable Grocery Bag with free pattern

Fat Quarters were on sale at Jo Ann's this week so I grabbed a few and decided to make something for me today.  After bit of thought, I decided on a reusable grocery bag.  I wanted to make a bag that is sturdy and can hold a lot of stuff.  I like to play superwoman and try to bring all my bags in from the car in one trip! Here is what I came up with...

It is not fully lined so it is lightweight.  French seams make it super sturdy, it will even hold 2 gallons of milk! I added a small piece of elastic at the bottom so it can be easily rolled up and tucked away in my diaper bag.  

It is perfect for trips to the store, bringing packages to the post office, carrying books home from the library... I love this bag!

Here is how I did it:

Skill Level: Beginner

3 fat quarters (2 for the outside and one for the lining)
6 inches of elastic
sewing machine
serger (optional)
pattern you can download and print here 

**you can also use 1/2 yard of outer fabric and 1/4 yard of lining fabric to make the bag**

Start by downloading and printing my pattern found in the link above.  Cut out the pattern pieces and tape them together by following the directions on the pattern.  You can overlap them a bit.

Stack your fabric for the outside of the bag and fold it in half longways (this way you only have to cut once). Iron along the fold.  Fold your lining fabric into quarters and iron your folds.  Line your pattern up on the fold, trace it and cut it out.

See those two small lines on the bottom of the pattern, copy those onto your fabric, you only need them on one side.

Finish the bottom edge of the lining.  If you have a serger, across the edge.  If you don't fold the edge up 1/4" on the wrong side of the fabric and iron, fold it up another 1/4" iron and then sew along the hem.

Lay one lining piece on top of one bag piece with the right sides together. Pin along the curved parts and sew with 1/4" seam allowance.  **DO NOT sew along the straight part at the top or on the sides, just along the curved parts**  Repeat this with the other 2 pieces   

Cut little slits in the seam allowance along the curves, be careful not to snip your stitches.

Turn one side of the bag right side out and iron the seams.  Place it on top of the other side with the lining side up on both.

Feed the top of the right side out one into the top of the inside out one.  Line up the top of the handles and pin in place.  Sew across the top of both handles, I like to go back and forth a few times so it is pretty strong.  

Now flip the other side right side out, your bags should be attached!  Top stitch across the top of the handles, around the big circle in the middle and the curves on the outsides.   

Line up the sides of your bag, you want the wrong sides together because you are going to make french seams.  Pin the sides and sew them together with a 1/4" seam allowance.  Do not sew the cut outs in the corners yet!

Find those marks you made on the bottom.  Fold your elastic in half and sew it down between the lines.  Trim the loose ends close to the seam

Trim your seam allowance on the bottom and sides to about 1/8". Be careful not to cut off the elastic you just sewed on!

Flip your bag inside out and iron it

Sew along the sides again with 1/4" seam allowance.  When you finish, your raw edges should be encased in the seam.

Almost done! Now we will finish the corners...  Flip the bag right side out again.  Pinch at tho top corner of the corner cut out on both sides and pull the sides apart.  It should go straight across now.  

Line up you side seams and pin in place.  Sew across the corner and trim your seam allowance to 1/8".

Flip your bag inside out, iron the corner seam and then sew over it with 1/4" seam allowance.

Flip your bag right side out and you are done!

To roll up your bag: lay it flat, tuck the sides in and pull the bottom out, fold it in half and then in half again, start rolling from the handles, stretch the elastic around the rolled bag to keep it in place. 


  1. I keep saying I'm going to make a bag! This one is so cute and i love your fabric! In love with the size and the use of the elastic too! Thanks for the pattern!

  2. I can't wait to make it! Thanks for the tutorial. :)

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Great little market bag! I made one this summer with friends and now am making 2 more for my granddaughters to carry their books to & from the library! Thanks for the tutorial!

  5. I am sending this link out to the ladies in my modern quilt guild. We are making reusable grocery bags for a donation effort, and so far this is the best tutorial I have found. Thanks for putting this together! Great bag.

  6. This bag was fast to make and turned out really well. I love the French seams--they look so professional! I'm planning to make several more to give as a Christmas gift to my mother-in-law, who lives in an area where plastic bags have recently been banned. Thanks so much for the detailed and easy to follow tutorial!

  7. Thank you for this tutorial. I have just sewn three bags for my children's teachers as Christmas presents.

  8. You can make it fully lined just by using the outside bag template for the lining fabric. I followed the same instructions too and it worked great!

  9. Hi crystal...i just finished making this shopping bag and i love it! It was easy and quick and turned out awesome with no exposed seams. I didnt print off the pattern...i just drew it up from your pics. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial!

  10. Great pictures and directions! Thank you!!

  11. Super easy and practical!! This is a pattern I will be using over and over again! I modified it to become a fully lined bag as I was aiming for a sturdier library bag, and added a pocket on the outside for keys. Thank you so much for this amazing tutorial! God bless!

  12. Thank you , just made my first on .look great

  13. I made one yesterday, then taught my girls at church how to make them last night. Such a cute bag and quite easy. Thank you!!!

  14. I cannot wait to try this pattern! Thank you so much for sharing! <3

  15. I cannot wait to try this pattern! Thank you so much for sharing! <3

  16. Nice tutorial. I like it, Thanks for sharing.

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  19. Does anyone know the finished size of this tote?

  20. Just made mine. Thanks for the tutorial.

  21. Awesome post!!! I am very interested in your blog. I am planning to start doing this one. Thanks for sharing.
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  22. I am new to downloading patterns and using them. I made some burp cloths with a downloaded pattern (successfully) but the pattern did have a one inch block on it to make sure the printout was to scale. I downloaded your pattern, printed it, taped it together and cut it out. Unfortunately, the bag is very small--there was a lot of fabric around the pattern. I see that yours goes nearly to the edge of what I assume is a fat quarter. How do I adjust this pattern to try again? I sure would appreciate if anyone could help me with that. I do like the pattern and thanks for posting it.

    1. that's what I want to know. mine came out very small too. barely big enough for a half gallon

  23. Awesome post!!! best for healthy life style also. I am very interested in your blog.
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  24. I made one today and now I want to make several more out of different fabrics. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial!

  25. I made these as Xmas gifts everyone loved them! My brother wants a larger one. Any I ideas on making this pattern bigger.

  26. Thinking of used jeans for this with seams exposed, hippy style.cut out the Pocket and sew to the bag.

  27. I have been making these recently and I love them. They're a great size and super strong! I'm going to try making a mini version now, we'll see how it goes. Thank you for the fabulous pattern and tutorial!!!

  28. Did you pre-wash your fat quarters? Do I need to be worried about shrinkage if I don't pre-wash and end up having to wash the bag later?

  29. mine was really small and I followed the instructions and printed the template

  30. small and I followed the instructions and

  31. I cannot find the link for the template...Please help!!!



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