Designer Grocery Bags - Who'd have thought!

For some time at our house we have been somewhat involved in recycling stuff.  A while back I actually got into the habit of bringing my reusable bags shopping.  But these totes that I have collected over the years (mostly at quilt and sewing shows) are almost all made of light tan canvas.  Although they were great for fat quarters, embroidery CDs and thread they don’t hold much when it comes to groceries and household supplies (come to think of it they were never big enough for the loads of fabric I bought at those shows either).   And these bags are now, after just a couple of months, stained, frayed and ugly.  I thought I heard the clerk actually groan the other day and I still needed 3 plastic bags in addition to what I brought. That was it – if I am “Going Green” I am going to do so in style.


Here is my first effort at a Designer Green Bag.



I’ve gotten lots of comments and everyone in my family wants them.  And they don’t want just one.  No, they want four or five or six – what have I gotten myself into?


 And to be sure I am not alone. A friend made some great green bags and has found that everyone we know wants them.  So, she has decided to use up her rather extensive stash of fabrics and scraps, collected over the years, for a good cause.  She makes the bags and sells them at a great price giving all the money to the Peanut Allergy Research Foundation.  It is amazing how many children suffer from this life-threatening allergy.  These little ones have to learn at a very, very young age to say “no” to ANY snack offered, eat somewhere away from their friends, and be wary of every new place to stay out of danger. And the diligent mothers are reading every label – just “made in the same factory in which nuts are processed” means it can’t be consumed at their house.  Communication is currently the only key to keeping these children safe.


She has saved the day and has made bags for me already.  Since I do not have enough time to make all the bags requested of me I have ordered more bags from my friend in support of her cause.


You can use any large tote pattern you really like.  To download instructions for mine click here.


 To make a designer bag all you need is:



rotary cutter

24” quilter’s ruler

sewing thread,

embroidery thread

tear-away stabilizer

A great embroidery design (I used a rooster from the Amazing Designs Rooster Jumbo Collection)

Or Alphabet Xpress or your Favorite Ann’s Alphabet


Here is a link to the free pattern my friend, Marilyn, uses.


If you like it better just add the designer embroidery pocket from my instructions.


I think I'll monogram the next ones for my girls using Alphabet Xpress.


 Making and using Designer Green bags helps the environment, recycles fabric we may not otherwise use and gets the attention of others.  Making them for a charitable purpose helps us help others as well.  Hmm, who’d have thought!


 Take care,



Note 1:  If you make one (but I bet ya can’t make just one) share it with us by posting it to our gallery.  We would love to see what you do.


 Note 2:  To learn more about peanut allergy research visit this site:


    PS: Here are a few more "Green" projects you might want to try:

Reusable Snack bags

Reusable Mop pads

Recycled water Bottle Totes

Comments (22) -

A quick note to everyone who downloaded the Green Bag PDF on September 5th before 10 am EST:

The gusset cutting instructions should read 39"X9" instead of 38"X9".  This has been changed and all downloads after 10am include the revised instructions.  Please download the instructions again.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.  


travelbug1237 9/5/2008 11:54:02 AM

Oh, HOW precious!!! What a TOTAL cutie!!!,

Thanks for sharing this wonderful project!!!


jalcumbrack 9/5/2008 2:32:18 PM

Love the Green Bags!! They look nicer than the ones you "buy" at the groceries around here. I have been using ny own for some time, every time I go to the store I need to add one or two. I'm not sure that's a good thing?? Love the Rooster,and thanks for the Patterns! Great blog, Great baby! Do you lend her out? All of mine are grown up now,I so miss having the little ones around! She is a cutie pie!


I came upon an idea for "green bags" to take to the grocery store.  You know those t-shirts you never wear?  Well, I made about a dozen of them by  sewing the bottoms shut - then making the- neckline larger and cutting the short sleeves off - which makes the handles and viola!  you have a bag - I keep the supply in the trunk of my car and am always prepared for grocery shopping!  Fairy  from Devils Lake, ND

What a great idea. I revamp the ones from the grocery stores. I make an applique out of any dense design and then sew it on the bag, that way the bag does not have to handle all the stitches and I am not advertising one store or another. I am advertising ....MEing.

Cute baby.. one of my "local" grandaughters is at that same stage.... "what should I do? walk, crawl.... nope scootching backwards and rolling works best". the othe "local" one does not even sit up yet, she is barely one month old... the other grandkids live farfar far away....(big sigh)...

I have been making all my family & friends 1 or 2 of these bags out Of the pillow design squares that are beautiful prints . everyone loves them. these are my Christmas in june to sept gifts. It was our 50th wedding anniversary an we went on a 11 day trip back  east to visit.  Patsy Miller Lakeside Calif.

Happy Anniversary Patsy.... hope it was fun back east.

For the past couple of  years I've been giving new brides a big canvas bag with their new initials embroidered  because my new daughter in law is a "modified tree hugger" .  Save the planet if at all possible.  Too bad that I forget to take a bag myself.

Phyllis in Georgia

Love the idea of using an old t shirt for a bag. Have just started reading these blogs and have had a few laughs. I live in New Zealand so am not able to get all the bits that are needed in some of the projects but can improvise.

I love the bag!   I love the pictures of the baby!

You put me in the mood to use up my stash instead of selling it on ebay.

rosie in Ohio

Im from England and can remember the time when ONLY  cloth bags were used years before plastic bags were invented-going to market always meant taking own bags and they served for many years and did not have to be  thrown out after each trip   Brit in TX  

Howdy there from Dallas, TX! I have two children I homeschool and so instead of having the time to make my own totoebags, my lateset project has been decorating bought re-usuable bags from my favorite frequent visiting retail establishments.

I take and fuse scrap fabric (USE PRESSING CLOTH or they will melt!) onto it to make it look like those designer one of a kind purses and totes, then ME on it with Monograms, and cute coordinating designs. I also sew on vinyl pockets to add pictures or advertise my embroidery, favorite bible verse, or advertise where I teach my cake decorating classes. (A walking, personalized Billboard!) I hope you like my idea and try it for yourself!


Dawn P.

What great ideas!  I have a couple of friends who will love the bags - yeah!  More Christmas gifts decided upon!

Totes are a hot topic right now! Your friend is working for a very good cause, too. Peanut allergies  seem to have skyrocketted! Or are we just now starting to pay attention?

The Designs in ME magazine also has good tote designs this month, including instructions on making a tote from an old sweatshirt! That bag could carry a LOT of groceries!!

Keep up the good work!


countrymom29651 9/8/2008 11:26:23 AM

Darling bag, Thanks for sharing.

I'm gonna make some out of my stored up stash for family and our Church Bazaar coming up, designs about recycling and Going Green would be cute too.

Thanks for inspiration !

grandmothercarolyn 9/8/2008 8:41:53 PM

Green Grocery Bags are WONDERFUL!  Some time ago, a friend gave me a PILE of upholstery fabric samples which have sat, uninspired, on a shelf....then, two or three months ago, I saw Michelle of B.Original on the DIY network whip up "green bags" from re-cycled materials (similar to my upholstery fabrics) and she used men's neckties to fashion the handles!  How clever is that?!?  Since my husband is retired and seldom needs a necktie, I scarffed as many as I could and began matching them up to the varied designs/colors of the upholstery pieces.   Those sample pieces are approx 18-24" sq., so a good size for an ample bag.   Fabric is strong, washable - ideal!  Since reading your information about Greenies, I can see that I will need to add appropriate embroidery designs to my bags!  Just thought I would share......enjoy!

How lucky you are grandmothrecarolyn. To have all that great fabric given to you. We all know that our stash will eventually talk to us and tell us what it wants to be. Grocery totes from upholstery fabric is wonderful.


Great Job, I make bags like this all the time. I use a donated stash of Plastic Canvas for the lining of the bags and bottoms for stiffening.  Works great without every having to pick up a needle and wool to create a design on it.. LOL

I cut the plastic the same size as the sides and gusset, whip stitch the edges together, place it inside the bag, Add the lining and top stitch lining and Bag fabric together.  Good Luck on going green everyone


I love the grocery bag idea, and that is one cute baby


Mary W.

I Love the bags. Good work

Lots of good ideas here, sharing is good.  I bought a pattern, years ago, that had a 'barn' shaped bag and several stuffed animals.  I adjusted the bag pattern and made several different styles of bags, also used a plastic bag as a pattern for a cloth bag.  So many possibilities.

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