Re-useable shopping bags are everywhere these days. Every business wants to sell you one. My local grocery store rewards you with 2¢ for each cloth bag you use. Lululemon sends you home with one every time you buy something there, and they aren’t the only store that does that. My family has been using cloth bags for my entire life, but our collection of re-useable bags has quadrupled since they became fashionable.

But… most of them are terrible. They are incredibly cheap things, made from recycled diapers or something. And they’re ugly and covered in advertising. And all the same size. So if you have a lot of things to carry (especially awkwardly shaped and/or heavy things), you’re kind of out of luck. That stupid thing will split/tear/destroy the circulation in your fingers.

The dimensions are up to you (consider how deep/long/wide you need it to be and go from there), but here's how piece of fabric turns into a bag so you can determine length and width of the denim.

This bag is better. It’s super sturdy. It’s made from denim, and if that’s good enough to sit on and drag across the sidewalk as part of your pants, it’ll do here. The straps are heavy duty nylon, and they’re re-enforced with leather patches where they’re attached to the bag to make sure they won’t tear a hole out of your bag when it’s loaded with 4L of milk and a few sandbags.

My friend Meredith had a bag like this one. I liked it, so I took a look at it and stole the pattern. It’s super simple. One piece of fabric, two straps, and four little squares of leather. You start by folding it in half and sewing up the short sides. That should leave you with a super basic bag. Now here’s the tricky part… you need to fold the seams down so they’re running along the crease at the bottom of the ‘bag’. Here’s a photo, hopefully that will help you figure out what on earth I’m talking about.

Now, you pin the corners down. How far along you pin the bag will determine the width of the base. Your seam will run perpendicular to the side seam, and the length of the new seam will be the width of the base. Of course, this measurement will also impact the depth of the bag, so pin it, prop it up, and see what you think.

Once you stitch the corner down, trim it off and turn the bag back to the right side out. Double top-stitch the side seams, and hem the top edge.

Now for the straps. These are very personal. Test different lengths by pinning them to the bag. I like to make them short enough that I can carry the bag without it dragging on the floor, but long enough that I can carry it over my shoulder. Choose where on the bag you want to attach the straps, make the locations even and equal, and stitch down four little leather patches. Then stitch the straps down onto the leather patches. Be sure to sew over all the seams several times. My thread broke a lot, and yours might, too. Just keep at it. You want these straps to be sturdy. That’s the whole point.

And tada! A handy, super-sturdy bag that’s up for all of your epic grocery/rock hauls.

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