Last time my great aunt was visiting from France, she (overly) vocalized her shock over the fact that grocers and retailers provide customers with bags here in the States. Even worse that, often, those bags are plastic. She shared that in Europe, people are required to BYOB (bring your own bag!) if they want something to lug their purchases home in. Revolutionary, isn’t it?

I’ll admit, I occasionally find myself drinking out of a plastic water bottle and carrying my groceries home in a plastic bag, but like I mentioned in my last post – this is the year of green for my family. I’ve been dedicated to being more conscious of my consumption and let me tell you, it feels great.

In a way to stand by my commitment of going green, and to appease my great aunt, I have forced myself into the habit of keeping reusable grocery bags in my car. We live in a very rural area, so grocery store trips are few and far between. This requires me to be prepared and organized – both of which do not come naturally to me. My new habit has come in handy on days when I’m unprepared or unorganized, and the only thing in the fridge is a lime.

What is life, though, if you can’t commit to being green stylishly? I love my insulated Trader Joe’s cooler bags, but a pleather “paper” grocery bag was calling my name. I saw one on Pinterest and thought, “I can make that,” (the same thought that usually keeps me from getting any actual real work done). So make it I did, and it was worth the effort!

Below are the steps for you to make your own!

Reusable Grocery Tote DIY

Step 1: Take apart (unfold) a paper grocery bag, careful not to tear any pieces.

step one

Step 2: Measure out each section of the paper bag, making sure to note the distance between the folds. Remove one of the handles from the paper bag, and cut out two pieces of fabric equally as long, but three times as wide.

Step 3: Cut out a piece of pleather to match the size of the bag. Then, using chalk, mark each fold line on the fabric. Take your time during this step, as this is the most important part. Make sure each measurement is very precise.

step 3

Step 4: Using your unfolded paper bag as a model, replicate the folds in the fabric. Use a hot iron and a piece of cloth to create creases. I also used a scoring blade to really seal the deal.

step 4

Step 5: Spend some time figuring out how to fold the bottom part together. I would explain this step in detail, but the easiest way to master this step is to refold your paper bag a few times, then mimic the same folds with your fabric.

Step 6: Once your folds have been creased, and you’ve figured out how to fold the bottom part together. Pin half of the bottom together and sew.

step 6

Step 7: Pin the rest of the bottom of the bag together, and finish sewing the bottom of the bag. Take your time while stitching this part together!

step 7

Step 8: Pin the middle seam of the bag together, and stitch closed. At this point your bag is finished, it’s time to make the handles.

Step 9: Fold and pin each strip of fabric into thirds. Sew along the pin line.

step 9

Step 10: I used the paper bag handle to mimic the fold of the fabric, and stitched each handle to match.

How to Make Your Own Grocery Tote | DARLING

Step 11: Once your handles have been stitched, it’s time to add them to the bag. Pin the handles into place, and stitch onto the paper bag so that the placement matches what it would on a paper bag.

I hope you enjoy creating this project, a very chic way to carry reusable grocery bags. Come visit me over in my neck of the woods at Boxwood Avenue, where I share more sewing tips and wholesome recipes!

Images via Rachel L’Antigua


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