Today I want to share a project I finished about a year ago. I got to thinking about how even though most people use cloth bags for their groceries, they still put their fruit and veg into those crappy, flimsy plastic bags the produce department provides. And the bags are so cheap that they don’t usually last long enough to be re-used. If you knot them, you’re pretty much forced to tear them open to get at your tasty fruit, and that’s that for that sad little bag.

Enter Harvest Totes, a set of reusable, reversible, and rather pretty (if I do say so myself) cloth bags for buying your produce in. Each bag is for a specific fruit or vegetable, and one side is French and the other side is English. There’s nutritional information, a basic recipe, and a typographic knock-out of the name in the fruit. The bottom has the name of the fruit in the 6 most common languages in Canada besides English and French. The reverse side is a bunch of different fruits and vegetables. Each bag uses just one colour of ink.

The bags close with a drawstring that runs through a lid of sheer fabric, so you can see what’s in the bag without opening it. Each side has a handle, one running lengthwise and the other running crosswise. The bags hold approximately 2kg of fruit, and the tare weight of the bag is noted on the handles for the cashier to see.

The first time I made these bags I tried silk screening. It was an abject failure. That was, in part, because I used school equipment that had been lavishly abused. Also, I had never silk screened anything before. So I tried iron-on transfers. That sort of worked. Sort of.

Later, when I had more time, I was able to get them professionally printed by the company that did all the fabric printing for the 2010 Olympics; a company based in Mississauga, Ontario. Those results were much, much better.

I’ll go into how to make bags like these in part 2. They’re very easy to make and handy to have around, and you can make them in any size you want.

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