Archive for February, 2010

Guest Post: How to Make a Reusable Market Bag by Mama Mouse

Posted on February 7th, 2010 by Tonia 7 Comments

I am so excited to share this great tutorial with you all! When Mama Mouse gave us one of these market bags for Christmas, I immediately got excited and asked her to share the pattern with us for the blog. She did a fantastic job explaining the steps. So, without further ado, here’s Mama Mouse with her Reusable Market Bag tutorial!:


Everyone on my list got a reusable market bag this past Christmas. I enjoyed making them, and the recipients seemed genuinely happy. I hope all the bags will be put to good use!

I began the project intending to repurpose nylon shower curtains into market bags, but couldn’t find any at our local thrift store that were lightweight enough so that the bag can be rolled very small, yet strong enough to withstand years of use. I instead opted for rip-stop nylon. It’s thin, durable, resists rips and is washable.

Here’s how to make your own reusable market bag. The pattern is a combination of several bags that I’ve used. Please read all the way through the instructions before starting.

Make a pattern: Using the diagram below, draw and cut out the 3 pattern pieces: main bag, upper bag lining, and tie. I used kraft paper that we have on hand but freezer paper, wrapping paper, newspaper, or even outdated fabric from your stash will work for this purpose.


Lay out pattern and cut fabric: You will need 1 yard of 60” wide, rip-stop nylon ( or 1 ¼ yard of 44/45” wide fabric).

Here’s the scoop on layout: If one adheres to accepted sewing methods, the pattern pieces should be laid on the fabric so that the vertical alignment of the bag is in line with the grain of the fabric (in other words, parallel to the lengthwise fold of fabric). I don’t follow ASM for this project when using rip-stop nylon because I don’t think it’s that critical, and I prefer that the bottom edge of the main bag be placed on the fold. (You’ll see why, later.) In order to keep the bottom edge on a fold while following accepted sewing methods, I will need to fold the fabric crosswise, requiring an extra 2/3-yard. I think that is wasteful and unnecessary.

Choose whatever layout suits your fancy, but be sure that in either case you fold the fabric right sides together.


2 – 2” x 10” strips for ties

2 – upper lining pieces

1 – main bag piece, on fold (Note that you will cut 2 main bag pieces if you’re using the ASM layout, and will be sewing them together at a later time. Add 1/2″ to the bottom edge to allow for seam.)

Photo 2 illustrates the pattern layout for ASM. Remember to add ½” to the bottom of the main bag pattern piece as explained above.

Photo 3 shows the alternate layout, henceforth known as “My Way.” 😉 Be sure to place the bottom edge of the main bag piece on the fold of the fabric.


Sewing the bag (All seams are ½”)

Finish the bottom edge of lining. Do this by folding the raw edge under ¼”, then folding under again. Stitch close to folded edge. Repeat with other lining piece.

Sew lining to main bag piece. Lay lining on top of main bag, right sides of fabric facing each other, and sew along curved edges. Do NOT sew the sides of bag, or the top edge of handles. Repeat with other lining piece.


Clip curved edges, trim seam, and turn right side out. Clip fabric along curved edges just to seam line, being very careful not to snip thread. Do this about every ¼” or so. Trim seams to ¼”. Turn right side out. Repeat.


Prepare ties. Fold up about ¼” on one end of a 2” x 10” strip.  Now, fold strip in half, lengthwise, and crease the folded edge with your finger.  Open it up and fold both of the long edges to the crease, then fold one side over the other.

You will now have a piece that measures ½” x 9 ¾”.  Stitch close to edge along all three folded sides. The remaining end will be a raw edge – that’s fine because it will be sewn into the side seam of your bag during the next step. Repeat with other strip.


Sew side seams. Fold the main bag (now with lining attached) along the bottom edge, right sides together. You’ll already have a nice crease if you cut it out My Way. The lining should be on the outside, facing you.

(NOTE: If you used the ASM layout, you will have two main bag pieces instead of one. Sew the 2 pieces together at the bottom edge now, using a ½” seam.)

Pin along side seams. Lay the ties on top of each other, and slip them in between the fabric pieces, approximately 5 ½” down from the bag opening, aligning raw edges to raw edge of bag.  The ties will be perpendicular to the side edge.  Pin ties in place to secure.  Stitch both sides of bag, catching the ties on one side as you sew.


Reinforce stitching, and finish side seams. Sew both side seams again, just outside the previous seam line, and then finish the edge with a zig-zag stitch or something similar. (I use an overcast stitch, which finishes the raw edge and reinforces the seam at the same time.) It’s important to finish the seam in some fashion because rip-stop nylon frays very easily. Trim seam to edge of finishing stitch.

Hint: For a neater appearance, turn the top corners of the seam under before finishing.


Make “box bottom.”: If you’ve never made a box bottom before, this may seem a little daunting, but it’s really not difficult at all.

First, note that the bag is still inside out. Pull the 2 layers apart at a lower corner, and match the side seam stitching line to the bottom crease. (I poke a straight pin through the stitching line to see if it aligns with the crease.) Secure layers with a few pins. Measure 2” up from the bottom point, fold finished seam to left side, and stitch across (perpendicular to seam line).  Your stitch line will measure 4” across.  Reinforce and finish raw edges just as you did for the side seams. Repeat with other corner. Turn bag right side out.

Hint: Mark stitching line with a pen to assure a nice, straight seam line.


Top stitch 1/8″ from edge, all along top edges of bag, except for the unfinished handle ends. When stitching over seam lines, take care to fold the inside seam the same direction as it is at the bottom.


Sew handles together. First, be mindful to use the correct pair of handles – that is, those on the same side of bag, not one on each side of the side seam. Fold one handle end up about 1/4″ and the other under about 1/4″, creating 2 v-shaped “hooks” that will lock into each other. Pin, and sew through the layers as close to the edges as possible. Sew again to reinforce.


Now is a good time to sign your creation. Be proud of your sewing accomplishment, and the part you’ve played in reducing consumption of single-use bags!

To fold the bag into a compact, easy-to-take-along size, first tuck in the boxed bottom, which is easy because of the nice crease created by laying out the fabric on the fold. (a.k.a. My Way!) Fold the handles against the body of the bag. Fold the top quarter of the bag down to the center. Fold the bottom quarter up to meet the center. Now fold the bottom over the top, smoothing out air pockets. Fold this piece nearly in half, and then roll from the folded edge toward the ties.

Once completely rolled up, wrap the straps around the roll and tie with a bow.


Final Step: Use and enjoy your handmade market bag!

Getting Married the Green Way

Posted on February 5th, 2010 by Tonia 14 Comments

The greatest science in the world; in heaven and on earth; is love.” -Mother Teresa

Mike and I got engaged (yay!) in August and we’re planning our wedding for September 2010.  Yep, we’re pretty excited!  We’re knee-deep in the planning process right now & it has been a lot of fun so far.


{Photo courtesy of the talented Sydnee Bickett -college friend of mine- who took this of us a couple months after Mike popped the question.}

Naturally we’re concerned about making the event as low-impact on the environment as possible.  We’re also concerned about other things, like: our budget, having fun, and making sure our guests have fun.

There’s one problem…our families are huge, so our guest list is close to 300 people.  It’s not easy to throw a ‘green’ + ‘budget-friendly’ + ‘off-the-hook-awesome’ party for 300 people!  I’m a little jealous of the couples who get to have small, intimate weddings…BUT I also feel amazingly blessed to know 300 amazing people!  I can’t think anything better than having all the people I love most in the world all together in one place for a whole weekend.

So…The Future Mr. & Mrs. Itty Bitty Impact have their work cut out for them.  After all, we have an image to uphold!  What would all our readers think if they found out we let the bar serve bottled water?  Or what if we served our rehearsal-dinner on paper plates! Or let our guests use paper napkins and drink from plastic cups!  AAAAAAAGH!  The horror!  This isn’t the Speidi wedding!!

{Photo courtesy of Feather Love Photography – You’d think celebrities would be able to afford glassware…}

Anyway, we’re going to do our best to pull off a ‘green’ wedding, and here are some of the measures we’re taking:

1.  We’re emailing our Save the Date announcement instead of sending paper cards

2.  We’re providing the bar with mason jars {no plastic cups will be used} and we’re giving our guests a way to mark their jar so they use the same one all night

3.  Cloth napkins, not paper

4.  Real cutlery, not plastic

4.  Ceremony + reception + accommodations at the same location= less driving around

5.  All decorations will be made by us, plus some helpful friends and family.  Most supplies {table runners, centerpieces, lighting} are being purchased at second-hand stores and reused

6.  As wedding favors, we’re going to make donations to a couple charity organizations

7.  We’re trying to find a caterer that purchases their ingredients from local farmers

Those are all the ideas so far, but we’re constantly coming up with new ways to reduce waste.  It makes the whole planning process a little more challenging, but also more rewarding.  I am happy that we’re going to be able to look back at the wedding and feel good about the way we did everything.

If you’re in the same boat as us, we’d love to hear your story!  Let us know what you’re doing {or did} to reduce waste at your wedding in the comment section.  Sharing ideas and experiences is part of what this blog is all about!

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas for ‘greening’ your wedding, take a look at the following blogs.  I have found them extremely helpful:

Green Wed – Inspiration and practical advice for ‘green brides’

Once Wed – Used wedding dresses for sale, DIY projects, inspiration

Recycled Bride – Buy used wedding dresses, decor, ceremony items, jewelry, etc.

Eco Chic Weddings – Inspiration and tips for keeping your wedding as low-impact as possible

I can’t wait to share stories and pictures of the big day with you all!  We’re really excited to get married and begin the next chapter of our lives together.