My farmer's market is not one of those that are trying to go plastic-free. After a couple years of only using cloth bags and letting my produce go naked at the grocery store, I was pretty peeved the first time I visited the farmer's market and brought home a bundle of plastic bags. I tried getting around it, but the farmers didn't like juggling all the produce I handed to them to be weighed, and more often than not, they slipped my items into plastic bags anyway. Those farmers are just so darn nice - how could I reprimand them for their plastic bag addiction?
For the past year, my solution has been to reuse plastic grocery bags at the farmer's market. I used the same bags over and over again, trying not to bring any new bags home. This method worked fine, but plastic bags tear and get dirty, and I'm sure I went through more plastic bags over the past year than I would like to admit.
A few months ago on my personal blog, I wrote about how I was starting to use the bulk bins at Whole Foods, but I needed to get some cloth bags for them. A reader commented that she had made her own bags out of an old shower curtain. Brilliant! It just so happened that I had an old shower curtain lying around.
So the next time I visited my mom (who is a sewer extraordinaire and also happens to own a sewing machine, which I do not), I whipped up some cloth produce bags. The finished product is sheer, lightweight, completely free, and oh so adorable.
Here's how I did it (but please pardon my sewing skills, which are not great).
Produce Bags in Ten Easy Steps
- shower curtain
- sewing machine (not necessary but definitely faster)
- drawstrings (old shoelaces work great)
STEP 1: Obtain an old shower curtain. If you don't already have one lying around, you can find one for very cheap at a thrift store. If possible, go for a sheer curtain to help the farmers and cashiers tell what's inside.
STEP 2: Using a ruler, mark rectangles measuring 17" X 26" onto your shower curtain. (Remember that with the hems and slot for the drawstring, you'll lose several inches. The final bags end up being about 13" tall by 12" wide.) I got six bags out of my shower curtain.
STEP 3: Cut out a rectangle.
STEP 4: Using a straight stitch, double hem all sides of the rectangle. (Because you're using a shower curtain, some of the sides of the rectangle might already be hemmed. Don't bother to re-hem these!)
STEP 5: Fold down one of the longer sides of the rectangle 2". Pin in place and sew using a straight seam. This will form the channel for the drawstring.
STEP 6: With wrong sides facing out, fold the rectangle in half and pin in place. The fold becomes one side of the bag. Sew around the other two sides of the bag, leaving a slot at the top to push the drawstring through. Obviously, don't sew the bag closed at the top.
STEP 7: Push a string through the channel you made on the top of the bag. A shoestring works great for this because the plastic knob on the end makes it easy to push through. But any kind of string will work.
STEP 8: Flip the bag inside out.
STEP 9: Repeat with each rectangle.
STEP 10: Take to the farmer's market or use at the grocery store for produce or bulk goods.
When I used these bags at the farmer's market last week, several farmers commented on how pretty they are. I was pretty pleased to tell them that they used to be my shower curtain. Somehow, making something yourself makes it all the more fun to use.