Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Going Underground Shopping Bag

Vintage tea towels are the perfect fabric for these simple, useful shopping bags. Search through your airing cupboard for ones that have lost their absorbency or are fraying and make a handful of no-cost cotton bags. Alternatively, you could use old sheets or pillowcases.

1. You will need two rectangles of approximately 44cm by 42cm. You may be able to simply fold your tea towel double, or you may need to use two different tea towels, especially if there are stains you want to avoid. Being awfully British, I used a tea towel which features a map of the London Underground.

2. Pin and stitch the pieces or halves right sides together at sides seams and base. Seam allowance is 1cm. Neaten the seam allowances together with a zig zag stitch.

3. It's time to get your iron out. Press under 1cm around the top edge. If your tea towel already has a hem along the top, you may not need to do this. But you still need your iron for step four. Why not put the kettle on while you're at it?

4. Now press under 4cm around the top edge and stitch.

5. Use matching material or remaining tea towel material to make two handles. You will need to cut two strips of fabric about 4cm wide and 75cm long. You could use cotton webbing instead. 

6. When making the handles, fold each strip along the long edge in half, right sides together and sew, with a 0.5cm seam allowance. I don't have a turning loop so I turned mine inside out very laboriously by hand, using a piece of string and a safety pin. At this point, you will probably feel like giving up but the end is in sight!

7. Press under 1cm at each end of the two handles. Pin and stitch the handles to the top of the bag about 4cm below the top edge and 18cm apart.

8. Still with right sides together, fold the bottom corners of the bag so that the side seam and base seam lie on top of one another. Stitch across for 4cm on each corner. Trim excess fabric and neaten seam allowances as before. 

9. Turn right side out and there you have it. A Make Do and Mend alternative to the plastic carrier bag which costs next to nothing.



  1. I love reusable shopping bags, and this one is so much fun! Your tutorial is very helpful- my sewing skills are only average, but I think I could tackle this one with your clear instructions!

    Visiting from Creative Home and Garden Blog Hop,

    Love, Joy @ Yesterfood

    1. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions, Joy. Good luck with this project and hope you enjoy it.

  2. I love it! The pattern is so much fun. Hope you have a great day!

    Heidi’s Wanderings

  3. A fabulous bag and a great way to use a tea towel. I've featured your bag today...

    1. Thank you, Pam, what a lovely surprise to be featured! I'm honoured!

  4. I love your bag! And the fabric is gorgeus!


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