Saturday, May 19, 2012

Reusable Shopping Tote from a King Sham

Did you know that grocery stores will deduct money from your total if you bring in your own grocery bags?  In addition to that great feeling you get when you do something green, you can also get paid.  Yeah!

Reusable grocery bags are generally quite ugly.  They're also thin and flimsy.  But not these!
These are part of my amazing garage sale weekend finds.  I found a nice tote that would work great as a grocery bag for fifty cents.  Inside were matching king sized pillow shams.  I wanted the tote but didn't need the shams. . . so I made bags out of the pillow shams!

Two different shams and two different styles of grocery totes.  Here's how:

The bags are made the same way with the exception of the handles.  I'll show you that when we come to it.

Lay out your shams.  Quilted ones are great!

Flip them over and either sew up the space you put your pillow or use an iron on seam.

I went iron on.  Cut to length and iron on the bottom layer.

 Remove paper backing and iron on the top.

Look close. . . hard to tell it's there!
Fold your sham in half, right sides together.  Pin if you want but make sure to start sewing up both sides from the top down.  This helps eliminate that moment when you realize nothing is lined up correctly.

Keep the wrong side out.  Locate the bottom corners and fold them flat.  Sew across.  This will make your gusset.

(The grey and black are the two sides you sewed together.)
Do both sides.  Your bag should look like this:
Flip it right side out!

Yes, the bag is even.  No, I didn't finish pushing it all the way out before taking the photo.

You need to add your handles right now.  I did it two different ways.

First way makes this bag:

You will need fabric for the handles.  I chose to use some duck fabric because I had it handy and I thought the thickness would provide some additional support.  I won't do it again. . . duck fabric is a pain to work with.

The easiest/smartest way to do this would be to sew a tube, flip it and sew both sides.  Duck fabric is impossible to do this with because I have no patience so here's an alternative:

 Fold and iron one side in about a quarter inch.
 Do it with the other side.
 Fold the entire piece in half, stacking those quarter inch pieces on top of each other.  Sew down the two sides.

Decide where to attach it to your bag.  Note that the closer together the handles are, the less support it is to your bag BUT the wider you can pull your bag apart with the handles (if that makes sense?!!?!)

I chose to put mine close to the ends. 

Trim the bottom corners off the handle.

Fold the bottom under and pin in place.

Sew in place.   I used a zig zag stitch and sewed a square.  Here's the back:

And the front.

It holds a lot and is kind of fancy looking!

Here's the other bag with the other handles:

The bag shape is actually the same but the fabric just naturally folds in if there's nothing in the bag holding its shape.

Lots of room!

These handles are different because they're 1) narrower  2) closer together  3) attached a little differently.

1) Narrower:  Fold one long end of your fabric to the middle.  Do the same with the other side.

Fold the entire thing in half and use a large zig zag stitch down the middle.

2) Closer together.

Decide where you want your handles.  Closer together will make the bag easier to get into if you are someone who keeps one strap on your shoulder and pulls the other strap away to get into the bag.  This will be my Farmer's Market bag because that's what I do when I'm there!

3)  Attached different.

Lay your straps down where you want them to sit.  Put them upside down.

Pin them and sew across the strap.

Fold them up and sew them down!  Because the straps are so close, the sides tend to flop in.

If I do it again:

Future bags will have narrow straps with wide placement - a combo of the first and second bag I made.  It will make a nice "all around" grocery bag.

Check out this blog!  


  1. Your bag looks gorgeous and thanks for the sharing the how to! You could link this up at The Something Old Something New Linky party page at Quilty Creations blog. :o)

  2. Very thrifty....very thrifty indeed!! Loving the design, pattern and colour of your totes. Great 'how to'.....just visiting from the bottom of the world.

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