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DIY Reusable Grocery Bag (Free PDF Pattern!)

August 5, 2016

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 thatย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

free pattern for diy reusable grocery bag

I got my oilcloth from, but I’ve eyed some amazing prints at, 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).

cutting oil cloth for diy reusable shopping bags

no fraying, no stretching; easy easy

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.

pattern pieces for diy reusable grocery bag

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.

ironing oilcloth

wrinkled oilcloth

smooth oil cloth

smooth oilcloth

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.

pretty stitches

pretty stitches

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.

creased sides of reusable grocery bag

creased sides for easy folding

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.

inside seams

inside seams

free pattern diy reusable shopping bag

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.

diy reusable grocery bag is easy to fold and store

Easy to fold and store

And since mine was a gift, I had to wrap it in beautiful flowers too ๐Ÿ˜‰


Don’t forget to download the free pdf pattern for this DIY reusable grocery bag; prettier grocery trips are just around the corner!

signoffHooray for a ByDylanM first; pattern number one in the books
Love, Dylan

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  1. […] DIY Reusable Grocery Bag (Free PDF Pattern!), by By Dylan M. […]

  2. Anne says:

    That’s a pretty tote! I love that oilcloth! I’ve featured your shopping tote pattern on Craft Gossip here: –Anne

  3. This is such a beautiful bag. I love the free pattern. I also love the further instruction on how to work with oilcloth. I did not know you could press it. I also liked the gift giving idea. I have pinned this to my DIY Grocery Bags Pinterest board:

    • Dylan says:

      Ana, Thank you for your kind words and for pinning. I’m happy you found the oilcloth tips helpful; it really isn’t as intimidating as it may seem. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. […] Reusable Grocery Bag from By Dylan M […]

  5. Terri says:

    I hope you won’t be offended that I’m going to try and make your bag out of my black oil sunflower seed bag with a gorgeous bird panel on the side of it. So very very kind of you to share this PDF . Working full-time is tough and trying to do some sewing but yours is my first project in a while . I’ll send you a picture when I get it completed. I hope you have a great week . I can’t wait to check out the rest of your designs.

    • Dylan says:

      Of course I’m not offended! I’m so excited this will be a sewing project you can fit in. It comes together pretty quickly and is so satisfying since you can actually get practical use out of it. Can’t wait to see your bag!
      Thanks for stopping by โค๏ธ’

  6. Xuan says:

    The floral patrern here is gorgeous, Dylan!!

  7. […] Shoes from Canary Jane     Floral Zipper Pouch from Lana Red Studio  Reusable Grocery Bag from By Dylan […]

  8. Dianne Barton says:

    Hi, Dylan.

    I downloaded your free grocery bag pattern earlier in the week and have cut out the pieces as per the instructions. Thanks so much for your generosity. I have a few of the Trader Joe’s bags that my sister in Pittsburgh has given me and I really love them..

    However, I have been having a dreadful time getting the bottom piece to fit. The sides (12 3/4″) fit perfectly, but when I pivot and turn to stitch the ends ( 7 1/4″) it will not fit in for me. I’m wondering if it should be wider. I am not a beginning sewer but this has me truly baffled.

    • Dylan says:

      Hey Dianne!
      The only thing I can think of is to make sure you’re pleating/creasing the sides of the bag down the center before assembling – this will bring the width of the side pieces down to fit the width of the bottom piece! If for some reason it keeps not working, just cut a piece that you think will fit – I would usually assume that there’s a mistake on my end and not yours, I trust your sewing skills – but since no one else has mentioned this issue, I’m going to trust the instructions and pieces fit fine. That’s no reason to hit your head against the wall though, so like I said, cut whatever size is going to fit for you, and happy sewing! And sorry for the frustration <3

  9. Louise Oppedahl says:

    I bought 4 yards of beautiful oilcloth! I will make 4 bags, for shopping in style. Thanks!