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Monday(!) Makes: Handy fold-up shopping bag

Better late than never, that’s what I always say. I do have my reasons… on Monday, my lovely boyfriend surprised me with a lovely meal in a lovely restaurant, as it was our third anniversary (happy face), on Tuesday I had a migraine all day (sad face), and yesterday – well, yesterday I lay down for a post-work nap and woke up at 10pm (sleepy face). So although the Make was made for Monday, I’m only getting the actual post up now!On to this week’s crafting, at last! I received this lovely book, The Perfect Handmade Bag by Clare Youngs as a present a couple of years ago and have never got round to trying any of the projects – until now.

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I really love the ethos of this book – each tutorial is based around recycling or repurposing materials – transforming beanie hats into little bags, for example.

I spotted a great tutorial for a fold up shopping bag made from muslin, with a border made from a patterned teatowel.

It folds and buttons up to purse-size, so you can keep it in your bag or pocket, which is handy for someone like me who usually gets to the supermarket till before remembering I haven’t brought any bags with me!

Here’s how it turned out.

Not having any muslin, or any particularly decorative teatowels for that matter, I improvised, using some light cream-coloured cotton I had spare, instead of muslin. However, having now made the bag, I really recommend you use muslin, or something equally as fine and light. Although I was just using a light cotton material, it proved a little too thick to achieve a good finish with the multiple folding required to create the side seams.

For the border, I finally got to use one of the pieces from this lovely fabric bundle I won in a crafting magazine giveaway a few months ago.

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You will need:

  1. 2 pieces of muslin 20″ x 17″ (50cm x 43cm)

  2. 2 pieces of muslin 2 3/4″ x 15″ (7cm x 39cm) for the straps

  3. 1 piece of muslin 1 3/8″ x 2 3/4″ (3.5cm x 7cm) for the button loop

  4. 2 pieces of border fabric 16 1/4″ x 5″ (41cm x 13cm)

  5. Sewing machine and thread

  6. Pins

  7. Button


1. Place the two pieces of muslin wrong-sides together, turn under and press a double 3/8″ (1cm) hem along the bottom and both side edges. (ie holding the two pieces together, fold under a hem with both pieces of fabric together once, press, then again and press. Pin and sew, as close to the hem edge as possible. Turn a 5/8″ (1.5cm) hem over to the right side at the top edge, press. (this is difficult if you have used a thicker material, but I persevered!)

2. To make the handles: Press a 1/8″ (5mm) hem on each of the long sides of each piece of fabric. Fold the handle in half lengthwise (wrong sides together), press, pin and sew close to the hem edge. Pin the ends of one handle approx 3″ (9cm) from each side to the turned-over edge at the top of the bag. Repeat for the other side. Pin and baste/tack-stitch in place.

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3. To make the button loop: Fold the two long edges in to the centre and press. Fold in half lengthways and press, pin and sew close to the hem edge. Fold it in half to form the loop shape, pin it (loop pointing out) to one of the side hems, about 2 inches (5cm) from the top, lining up the ends with the row of stitches in the side seam. After you check it fits around your button, baste/tack in place.

4. Turn under and press 3/8″ (1cm) on each edge of your border fabric. Pin one piece, right side up, to the front right-side at the top of the bag and the same for the back. Sew along each long edge of each border.

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5. Next, sew down the short edges, lining your stitches up with the existing line of stitches at the side. Then, sew a line parallel to this, close to the edge of the bag and continue sewing down the bag and along the bottom and up the other side again – so you have a double row of stitching.

6. Remove any tacking stitches, sew the button on roughly in the centre of the border, making sure it lines up with your button loop. To fold it up, tuck the handles inside and then fold up the muslin part until you can only see the border. Fold it up widthways until you can connect the button and loop.

Done! I’m pretty pleased with how mine turned out, even if my chosen material wasn’t ideal for this particular tutorial. It’s a sturdy little shopper and I do use it.

Shopping bag...
....and all folded up, handbag-ready!

Let me know if you have a go at this one – share your pics and comments.

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