13 Ways to Make Cool Reusable Shopping Bags for Free

By Jaymi Heimbuch

Sure, there are a million places to shop for reusable grocery bags these days. But your home likely holds countless resources to help you create one-of-a-kind bags for free!
Raw materials for cool one-of-a-kind shopping bags are laying around your house right now. Make fun, unique, and thrifty reusable shopping bags that are either quick fixes or that will bring out the craftster in you.

Basic: These require no sewing, or only minimal sewing, and are super easy to throw together.
Pillow Cases are about as basic as you can get. You can go no-sew, and simply cut out two holes to make handles. Or you can go a little fancier by cutting the hem off the opening side and sewing it back on as handles. The no-sew version will create a sturdier bag, but the sewn-on handles will create more room for slinging it over your shoulder.

Pant Legs , especially wide-leg trousers, make super easy, one-seam bags. Cut the leg off at the crotch. Sew the cuff so that one end of the pant leg is sealed off--that's the bottom of the bag. To create handles, just cut two holes from the upper end of the pants. You can make your bag as deep or shallow as you'd like, with handles as short, long, wide or skinny as you want, all in about 10 minutes--or even make a drawstring bag from pants.

Feed Bags or Flour Sacks make great bags as well. You're not as likely to have these laying around, though bird seed bags, some dog foods, and bulk flour usually offer great packaging for making reusable bags. Follow similar instructions as with the pillow case, or get creative by mixing in other fabrics and materials.

Towels , along side pillow cases, are super basic. Fold a towel in half, sew up the sides, slice holes for handles and count yourself done. Or, get creative. Try using strips from a separate towel for the handles, and sew them all the way around the bottom of the bag for extra reinforcement. Or get fancy with it and mix and match towels to create colorful, textured designs.

Plastic Packaging from Bedding is absolutely no-sew. Blankets, sheet sets, and comforters come in sturdy zippered plastic bags. Next time you buy bedding (organic of course.) save these and use them for your grocery shopping. You can make them even more convenient by taking two strips of fabric, hot-gluing them into two loops, and hot gluing the loops around the bottom of the bag, up and over the top to create sturdy handles.

Quick But Crafty: These require some basic sewing skills, but are still doable for beginning sewers.

Tarps are a super sturdy and easy-clean material for reusable bags. If you have a tarp with a rip in it, don't just toss it. Turn it into a handy bag. Get creative with your bag template, and use upholstery thread or thin fishing line to sew up the seams. In just a few minutes, a ruined tarp can get a new life.

Bedding , from sheets to blankets, provide excellent material for cool shopping bags, and allow your creativity to go wild. Use old bedding to make reusable bags that range from simple to elaborate quilted bags, depending on your mood and sewing skills.

Shower Curtains , like tarps, are sturdy, easy-clean bags that have build-in flair based on their pattern. Get several cool new M shopping bags each time you switch out your shower curtains.
Window Treatments can make for excellent shopping bag material. Heavy drapery or summer sheers are less convenient, but lightweight, strong materials are perfect. Plus, while a print may be outdated for window treatments, it might be perfect for a cute shopping bag.

T-shirts and Tank Tops are great for low-sew conversion, however, they might take a little more planning for how you want to cut them in to shape. The easiest way to refashion them is to sew up the bottom hem, cut off the sleeves (if there are any) and use the armholes as handles. However, you can do a lot to make them fashionable and extra sturdy if you're willing to add in some extra time at the sewing machine.

For the Serious Craftster: These are for folks who like a bit of a challenge. They utilize different materials and construction methods that take more than a few minutes to complete.
Dry cleaning covers can be a bit tricky depending on what they're made of. However, if they're made of a sturdy enough material, they can be easily converted into oversize bags for bigger loads. Plus, they already have a great domed shape so creating handles is simple.

Plastic Bags Turned Knitted Grocery Sack has become a popular craft. There are a lot of tutorials online about turning plastic bags into yarn that you can knit or crochet into cool, very sturdy shopping bags. Also free online are a wide range of knitting an crochet patterns, or you can invent as you go along!

Food Wrappers is for the weekend warrior-style craftster who takes their shopping bags seriously. But, food wrappers can create a seriously cool effect. This is extra inspiring--if you can create a bag out of folding food wrappers, what could be left in your house that wouldn't make a great shopping bag if repurposed?

Still don't feel like pulling bags together yourself? No worries. There are lots of places to shop for reusable bags.

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