Project 4: Make Your Own Reusable Produce Bags (Tutorial)

Well, as we discussed last time, today we are making our own reusable produce bags, to help keep vegetables and fruit fresh.

The delightful thing about this project is it can be as easy and cheap, or difficult and expensive, as you want. As a totally novice machine sewer, I chose to do this the easy way, and make the bags from a cut up shirt and some purchased sewing tape on my mother-in-law’s sewing machine. If I didn’t have that, this would have been very easy to make by hand as well. Here’s a great tutorial on a simple whip stitch that you could use to do all the steps listed below. If you want this to be fancier, and perhaps slightly better for the longevity of the produce, you can buy muslin or cotton mesh.  Don’t limit your usage to just produce, either!  These are great for lingerie, dirty gym clothes – whatever you’d like to be arable.

I had a pretty cotton shirt, that was very light weight and pretty, but was a bit see-through and stained. Instead of donating it, I decided to turn it into two cotton bags!

cotton shirt for bags

Reusable Bags For Produce, Lingerie, or Whatever

Makes approx 2 bags


  • 1 old light cotton shirt, or about a yard of cotton or muslin, (makes between 5 and 10 bags, depending on size.)
  • A round of cotton tape, about 5 meters (you won’t use it all, so feel free to use ribbon or whatever you have lying around.
  • Thread
  • Needle (or sewing machine)
  • Scissors
  • Measuring Tape
  • Pins
  • Safety pins
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Patience


  1. As my mother-in-law says, sewing is easy. Measuring and cutting is what is hard. I’m not great at either. So, all I did was take the bodice off the top of the shirt (as you can see above), tear out the itsy bits of elastic in the bodice, and fold the cloth approximately into half, to make two bags. cloth folded in half
  2. Then, I ironed the cloth, particularly on the half-way point, to make it easy to cut into two.
  3. Cut the fabric along the inner line, making two similarly sized pieces of fabric.
  4. Turn the fabric back to front, (in this case, so the embroidery is on the inside) and pin closed the bottom and open side. pinned bag
  5. Using a straight stitch, whip stitch or a zigzag stitch and a straight stitch, sew together the bottom and side.
  6. Fold over the top about half-an-inch to an inch (you can measure if you’re fancy).  Sew along the base of the fold, making sure not to sew the entire fold, but instead to leave a 1 inch gap to leave room to thread your tape through.
  7. Attach safety pins to tape, and thread it through the gap at the bottom of the seam, until it comes out of the same hole. Leave at least 2-3″ of extra tape, type the ends together. The bag should now gather.
  8. Re-turn to the correct side out, and enjoy!

IMG 5797

Hope this made some sense, and is useful!

Question: Do you use reusable bags? What do you do with your old shirts?


  1. I love this!! It’s great that you’ve re-purposed a lightweight fabric item. I’ll be sharing this link on my next week’s Tuesday’s “Three”. 🙂

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