Re-purpose canvas bags with this tutorial from Karen Eckmeier by transforming the outside with waves of fresh fruit and vegetable fabrics for grocery shopping and keep the printed logo on the inside of the bag as a memento. Follow along with Karen’s Market Bag Tutorial to make some of your own.
Do you have a collection of canvas bags from special events? These finished bags are blank canvases waiting for your creativity! My parents take several cruises each year, and wondered what they should do with their pile of keepsake bags. I had a solution! That year everyone received a recycled market bag for Christmas! This is a great introduction to my Layered Waves topstitching technique. Learn to go with the flow by cutting gentle curves to create a unique fabric to customize your market bag. Curves are so easy when they are topstitched!
- 100% Cotton Canvas Bag with handles and sides with a single seam (avoid bags made with a plastic type material, it melts when ironed and rips easily. Not fun to work with!)
- Seam Ripper
- Fruit and Vegetable Theme Fabrics—¼ yard each of six fabrics
- Black and White Fabric with food related text (optional)—¼ yard
- Multi-Color Variegated Thread
- Sewing Machine (I use a BERNINA 770 QE) with Reverse pattern foot #1/#1C/#1D foot
- Rotary Cutter, mat and ruler
- Optional—Double Sided Fusible Heavyweight for the inside base of the bag as extra support—¼ yard: size will vary according to the size of the bag
Instructions for making a Recycled Market Bag:
Open up the sides of the bag with a seam ripper.
Use an iron to press the bag open and flat.
Measure the shortest frayed edge. This is the approximate width of the bag.
Select one the fabrics which will be at the top of the bag. In the photo I chose the food themed fabric with text. Cut the fabric to the width of the bag (plus an extra inch or two). Use a rotary cutter to cut a gentle curve to create a strip that is approximately 3-4″ in length. I like to let the design on the fabric determine where and how I will cut the curve.
This strip will have a top straight edge and a curved edge.
Use an iron to press the curved edge approximate ¼” toward the back side of the fabric.
Place this fabric with the pressed curved edge on top of the second fabric. Rights sides facing up.
Cut a curve in the second fabric about 3 – 4″ from the pressed edge of the first fabric. Let the design in the fabric help you determine this width.
Pin in place.
Topstitch 1/8″ from the pressed edge. Align the inside toe of the Reverse pattern foot #1 with the outside pressed edge as an easy guide.
Turn the topstitched unit over and trim the excess fabric ¼” from the topstitched line of trimming. Be careful not to cut through to the front fabric.
Now we begin to repeat the above process…. Press the curved edge of the second fabric.
Place on a third fabric and cut a curve on that one.
Pin in place, then topstitch, trim the excess fabric in back. HINT: I save these strips to make more Layered Waves fabric. Use yours to make an optional pocket.
Keep repeating these steps until you have a Layered Waves fabric large enough to cover the opened canvas bag. The length should be ½” – 1″ longer at both ends.
Coloring option—if you were lucky enough to find a black and white text fabric, add some extra color with fabric markers. Just like being in Kindergarten again!
Fold the top edge under approximately ½” and align with the top of the bag. Pin in place. Pin the entire Layered Waves fabric to the bag. End by folding the last edge under ½” to align with the opposite top edge of the bag.
Begin stitching 1/8″ edge from the edge of the top of the bag (which is also aligned with the folded edge of the Layered Waves fabric). Add an additional line of stitching 1/8″ from the line of stitching for a secure edge.
Continue stitching “in the ditch”—next to the pressed edges of each of the curved strips.
After the Layered Waves fabric has been stitched to the canvas bag, trim the side edges to the shortest frayed edge of the canvas bag.
Secure the edges with a zig zag stitch or use a serger.
Fold the bag in half so that right sides are together (right sides are now the ones with our Layered Waves food fabrics) and pin in place. Sew with a ¼” seam allowance.
Keep the bag inside out and flatten the bottom of the bag as shown in the photo. At this point you need to decide how wide you want the bottom of your bag to be. This will be determined by the width of the triangle you stitch. The bottom center of the bag runs to the end of each of the triangular points. In this example, I have marked a line 5″ long on each side. I will sew along those lines and this will create a flat bottom that is 5″ wide. Turn the bag inside out, so the right sides are now on the outside.
To reinforce the bottom of the market bag create a sturdy base. Measure the bottom of the bag and cut a piece of double sided fusible to that size. Iron a fabric of your choice on one side, and another fabric on the reverse (cucumbers in photo).
Zig Zag stitch the edges to secure and place on the bottom inside of the bag.
Now you are ready to go food shopping in style!