Lately I’ve been realizing (and enjoying) just how many facets of my life lend themselves as catalysts for creative projects. Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, new babies, holidays, and so on; all opportunities to put a tad more thought and effort into a handmade creation for your loved ones (and homies in general).
A recent gift I made (and will be making for myself, and every grocery-shopping-farmers-market-enthusiast I know) was a reusable grocery bag. I LOVE Trader Joe’s reusable shopping bags; the tall ones that are close to Mary Poppins packing magic, and I’ve gladly paid the $8 for the 8 or so we have, but when you come across beautiful floral oilcloth…and your trying-to-downsize-but-loves-beautiful-practical-things friend’s bday is coming up..well, why not? So I drafted up my own pattern for the bag and sewed it up. I’m offering this pattern for free for download, so no reason to not make 15 for yourself 🙂
I got my oilcloth from fabric.com, but I’ve eyed some amazing prints at oilclothbytheyard.com, too. The print in these pictures is also offered with a bold yellow background, so we’ll see how long I resist buying that. A simple Google search will get you where you need. Most of the ones I saw were 55-60″ width, so one yard is great (and cost effective).
The backside of the oilcloth has a rougher texture to it, making it easier to mark on and cut with (since the ruler won’t slip as easily). It doesn’t stretch or fray, so it’s very easy to work with.
If there are wrinkles in your oilcloth when you get it, have no fear. Using a cool/warm, dry iron and a press cloth and working from the back of the fabric will easily release those bad boys.
The nice thing about this project is there really isn’t too much of a learning curve for working with the material. If you’re sewing from the right side of the fabric, you may notice you presser-foot sticking a bit, causing your stitches to be inconsistent. If this is the case you can put a piece of scotch tape or tissue paper between the oilcloth and your presser-foot, tearing away when you’re done sewing. However, the hem is the only part of this project that you sew from the right side of the fabric, and I didn’t notice any issues with my stitching.
The Trader Joe’s grocery bags I love so much have a permanent crease in the sides, making them easy to fold up. I mimicked this by sewing a seam into each side piece.
The inside seams remain unfinished. Since modern oilcloth is more like a vinyl, any stitches become perforations in the material. To keep that to a minimum, one line of strong stitches is all it takes to assemble her.
Any little thing that can make grocery shopping more enjoyable for me is very much welcomed, and these sturdy floral beauties fit the bill. And just as hoped, they fold up so nicely.
And since mine was a gift, I had to wrap it in beautiful flowers too 😉
Don’t forget to download the free pdf pattern for this DIY reusable grocery bag; prettier grocery trips are just around the corner!
Hooray for a ByDylanM first; pattern number one in the books