Fabric Grocery Bag (for Kids!) Tutorial

Friday, May 30, 2014
Have you ever looked in on your kids when they are playing 'pretend?' It's hilarious. They say the funniest things and really get into character. My kids like having pretend dance recitals, picnics, and camping trips.

I mentioned a while back that my sister and I were talking about how much her girls love playing pretend store. That led to the idea of  actually making a kid-sized grocery bag. It had to be durable, washable, and a lot like an actual bag you might see in a grocery store. And so, the fabric 'Thank You' Grocery Bag was made.

I've put together a tutorial, with lots of photos, to show just how to put this bag together. It's a fairly quick sew, less than an hour for sure. The bag is designed just like the plastic bags you get at the grocery store.

You'll Need:
1/2 yard fabric for outside of bag
1/2 yard fabric for lining
Heat Transfer Vinyl (also called iron-on vinyl)

First, draft your pattern following the pic below. Tape two blank pieces of white paper together to get the paper tall enough. It's probably easiest to cut the paper into a 7.25 inch by 16 inch rectangle and then cut out the curved parts.

Pre-wash your fabrics so there will be no surprises later on. I know, pre-washing takes more time and is seriously annoying when you finally have a free hour to sew and realize you haven't pre-washed yet! But, do it anyway. :) I try to remember to wash my fabrics right after I purchase them so they will be ready when the need to sew arises.

Iron your fabrics before cutting so your pieces don't have any weird wrinkles. Yet another annoying step, but really, it will only take 5 minutes and makes your project so much better!

Now, you are ready to cut. Lay your pattern on the fold and cut two from each fabric. I used a quilter's cotton for the inside, and a plain natural ticking fabric on the outside. I love how soft the ticking is and it makes the bag just the right thickness. You really could use any fabric for this bag, from a thin cotton, to a lightweight canvas.

Cut two from each fabric, as shown.

With right sides together, sew one piece of ticking to one piece cotton fabric on the middle 'U' shape. I use a .25 inch seam allowance.  Repeat for the other two pieces. Next, sew the outside 'J' shapes, starting at the curve, and sewing upward. Stop sewing about 2 inches from the top of the handle. Repeat on the other 3 outside 'J' curves, as shown.

Clip the fabric inside the curves. This will allow the fabric to lay neatly when turned right side out.

Turn both pieces of the bag right side out and press the seams.

To connect the two pieces of the bag, you will sew the top edge of each handle, matching up the cotton fabric pieces together and the ticking fabrics together, right sides together.

Pin together across the raw edge and sew. Repeat on the other handle.

When you flatten those handles out, they will look neat and tidy. Press, and prepare to topstitch.

We'll get to the topstitching in just a minute!

But we get to sew the body of the bag together first. With right sides together, line up the cotton fabric with itself, and the ticking with itself, so it looks like a big rectangle.

Stitch along the sides, using a .25 inch seam allowance. Don't forget to line up the center seam, and keep the handles (inside the 'bag sandwich') tucked out of the way.

Turn right sides out, and press.

Topstitch around the handles and opening. Take your time around the curves.

I love the red 'Thank You's on the bag and think it makes it so much fun! I added it using red heat-transfer vinyl. I really love this stuff because it is easy to use and I can personalize my projects with it. I buy mine through a local business here.

Follow the instructions that come with your heat transfer vinyl. I cut my lettering using my Cricut machine, paired with the SCAL software. If you have a Silhouette machine, that would work great, too! However you cut it, remember that you'll need to flip the text before cutting. I have more details about heat transfer vinyl here.

 Make sure the vinyl lettering is ironed on well since this bag will be well loved. :)  (Remember to never place your iron directly on the vinyl. Use a press cloth or even a piece of paper between your iron and the vinyl.)

 Fold the handles in half, just like a real plastic bag. This is how you'll create the gusset in the bag that allows it to fold neatly and open up to hold so much.

 After both handles are folded in, you are ready to sew the bag together.

Sew a .5 inch seam along the bottom then trim close to the edge.

Turn the bag inside out, pushing the bottom corners out as much as possible.

Sew a seam along the bottom, about 3/8 of an inch from the edge.  

Turn right side out and you are done!

Gather up all your fake food and let your kids have a blast with their new shopping bag that is just their size.

You can even take it with you to the real grocery store and let them help you bag up your purchases. They'll absolutely love it!

 Go ahead and make a bag for all the little kiddos in your life...their little imaginations will surely thank you!


Make Your Own Piano Runner (or Table Runner, or Nightstand Runner...)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
When I first got married, I somehow managed to talk my husband into buying me a piano. Okay, honestly, I don't remember having to plead my case or anything and I don't even remember asking for a piano. Pretty nice when you get something you don't even ask for, right!?

Well, I do play the piano and have had many opportunities throughout my life that have made practicing essential. (Please don't ask anyone that may have heard my pathetic rendition of 'Ring Out, Wild Bells' in the winter of 1999 about my practicing skills. Yeah,..that was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day that I'd really like to forget.)

Anyway, I have a piano that I love, and for years, I've been needing to protect the top of the piano. I FINALLY found some fabric that I like well enough to see it everyday, so I whipped up this super easy fabric piano runner.

It's a really simple project that has added a nice touch in the room. I found the fabric at JoAnn's and really like how it is a bold pattern without being too 'loud.'


First, collect your material. You'll need enough fabric to cover the length of your piano (or table, or whatever you are covering). I chose to make the runner the same fabric on both sides just in case I ever need to flip it over, so I also needed double the width of the top of the piano. The top of my piano measures 10.75 wide inches by 56.75 inches long. I wanted my runner to be slightly smaller than the top of the piano, so I went ahead and cut two rectangles to the exact measurement of the top of the piano.

With right sides of the fabric together, I sewed the two rectangles together using a .5 inch seam allowance, leaving a 5 inch opening for turning. I clipped the corners before turning, then turned the runner right side out. Press well so the runner edges are crisp.

I chose not to topstitch because I like the way it looks without any stitching on the top. To close the remaining hole, you could handstitch, using fusible webbing, or a few dots of fabric glue. But there's a pretty good chance that I was so excited to put my runner on the piano that I didn't sew mine closed at all.

Shh, don't tell. :)

I'm really happy with the way the runner turned out. The great thing is that it was super easy, so when I get tired of this fabric, I can make another one really quick! And if you don't have a piano that needs a runner, make one for your kitchen table, end tables, hall tables, well, you get the idea!

I hope you'll give it a try!
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