Wallet-Sized Fold-Up Re-Usable Shopping Bag

by Admin on 01/09/2007

in Green Crafting, Whip Up Tutorials

About the maker: Karla is a Montessori teacher who lives in Sausalito, California with her husband. In her free time she enjoys shopping at thrift stores and transforming her finds into new creations. You can find photos of her work at flickr.

I love the idea of a re-usable fabric shopping bag, but you need to remember to bring them with you whenever you go shopping. Inspired by a fold-up bag I received as a gift, I wanted to create one that would be simpler to make (the one I received requires a zipper sewn into a curved shape) and just as convenient to use. You can stash this wallet sized bag in your purse and have it ready whenever you go to the store.


Notes: Please read the comments for some helpful notes to this pattern.

– Main bag fabric – 33″ x 19″
– 2 strips for the handles – 20″ x 4″
– Contrasting fabric for the pocket – 10 1/2″ x 7″
– Fusible interfacing for the pocket – 10 1/2″ x 7″
– Double fold bias tape
– Small piece of sew-on velcro – about 1″ x 1″

The fabric for the main bag should be fairly lightweight so it will fold up easily, but sturdy enough to carry some heavy groceries. The pocket can be made from a heavier weight fabric, in which case you can skip the fusible interfacing.

I used fabric from an old curtain I found at Goodwill. Check your local thrift stores for fabric, curtains, sheets, or pillowcases.

First cut the fabric to the sizes as listed above.

Make the pocket:
– Press fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the pocket.
– Fold the pocket in half lengthwise, right sides together.
– Measure 3″ from the top along the outside edge and mark.
– Draw a curve between this mark and the top center fold.
– Cut along the line through both layers of fabric.
– Pin and stitch the bias tape to the outside edge of the pocket.

– Sew one side of the Velcro to the right side center of the short, straight edge, just under the bias tape. Then sew the other piece of Velcro to the wrong side center of the curved edge, 1/2″ from the bias tape.

To attach the pocket to the bag:
– With the curved edge toward the bottom, place the wrong side of the pocket onto the right side of the main bag. Place it so the right edge of the pocket is 5″ from the right edge of the main fabric and so the top edge of the pocket is 3 1/2″ from the top of the main fabric. Pin in place.
– Measure 3″ up from the bottom of the curved edge of the pocket. Mark this measurement with pins along the width of the pocket.
– Stitch the pocket onto the main fabric along the two side edges and 3″ up from the bottom curved edge of the pocket (marked by pins), leaving the curved part unattached from the bag.

To make the main bag:
– Fold the top edge of the bag over 1/4″ toward the wrong side and press.
– Fold another 1/4″ and press. Pin in place.
– Top stitch 1/8″ from the edge of the fold.

– Fold the bag in half with right sides together so the short edges meet. Pin along the side and bottom edges.
– Stitch with 1/2″ seam along the side and bottom edges. Trim the corners.
– Finish the seam allowances: Press the seams open. Press each seam allowance in half so the raw edge meets in the center along the sewn seam.
– Pin the two folded side seam allowances together and stitch near the folded edges.
– Repeat for the bottom seam allowances.

– Fold the bottom corner of the bag so that the bottom and side seams line up.
– Use your ruler to find where the corner measures 3 1/2″ across.
– Pin along the line and stitch in place.

– Repeat for the other corner. This time you don’t have a side seam to match up. Instead, press a crease along the bottom side of the bag and use the crease as a guide.
– Trim the excess fabric to 5/8″ from the stitching line and finish the seam allowances in the same way as the side and bottoms seam allowances.

To make the handles:
– Fold and press the 4″ x 20″ fabric in half lengthwise with wrong sides together.
– Open and press one long raw edge toward the center to meet the crease you just created.
– Repeat for the other raw edge.
– Press each of the short raw edges in 1/2″.

– Fold along the first center crease, pin in place, and topstitch all around the strap.
– Repeat for the other strap.

Then attach the handles:

– Overlap the first handle and the top of the bag by 1″ directly over the side edges of the pocket. Pin in place.
– Sew in a square pattern around the edges of the handle. Sew an “X” through the center of the square.
– Repeat for the second handle, using the front handle

Fold it up:

And there you go. Now you can put your re-usable shopping bag in your purse and have it ready whenever you need it!

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Julie September 2, 2007 at 12:32 am

Wow! This is cool! I’m gonna have to whip one up this weekend!


2 Tami September 2, 2007 at 2:24 am

This is too cool! I think I have a project to do when I have scraps. Thank you for sharing.


3 macati September 2, 2007 at 4:17 am

this tutorial is great. thanks!


4 dulcet September 2, 2007 at 7:30 am

I’d love to make some reusable grocery bags, but I was wondering how many bags people usually carry around with them. I only go shopping about once a week, and I end up with 8-10 plastic bags full of stuff. Do I need 10 fabric bags each time I go shopping? That’s a bit more cumbersome than just one folded away in a purse. Has anyone else run into this connundrum?


5 Miss Paula September 2, 2007 at 7:35 am

I love this idea. Target has these now but it would be cuter to have homemade ones!


6 Terry Thorson September 2, 2007 at 7:39 am

I would rather instructions for projects be linked to a tutorial, as opposed to causing me to scroll to get past something that does not interest me.


7 michelle September 2, 2007 at 7:49 pm

This is fantastic – thank you! I bought a commercially produced fold up bag a couple of months ago, but it is starting to deteriorate already (bad stitching!). I was considering pullling it apart and using it as pattern for a bag I could sew myself, but you have done all the work for me. Well done!


8 Ann Marie September 5, 2007 at 12:37 am

Thank you Karla! Everyone will get one of these in their holiday stocking.

To Dulcet: I do my grocery shopping once a week as well. Remember, your cloth bags will hold more than the typical plastic bags. I have a fold-up bag that I carry with me at all times (it’s great – it’s made of parachute silk and I have been using it for 10 years and it still looks like new!), but that is not what I use for grocery shopping. I made what I call an uber-bag. It is a very, very heavy duty bag that can handle the heavy items like milk. The straps go all the way around the bottom for reinforcement and it is made out of very heavy canvas. On the outside I have four large pleated pockets that hold three additional canvas bags (regular ones not overly heavy duty) and six mesh bags for produce. All this handles my weekly shopping and I keep it by the front door. Don’t even try to carry around in your purse all the bags you’ll need for weekly grocery shopping. Good luck – it took me longer than I ever thought possible to get into the habit of bringing my own bags to the store, but I am so happy that the habit has been established!


9 Ellen September 5, 2007 at 3:54 am

I love this idea!
And dulcet, you are right, this is a problem. However a fabric bag will hold more stuff, than a flimsy plastic bag, so you might need only 4 bags. I also love to use a wicker basket, where I put in all my vegetables. Then there are crocheted or knitted bag patterns out there, that will expand when filled, so you need even fewer bags.
http://www.crochetme.com/reduction-tote-bag http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEsummer07/PATTeverlasting.html


10 wayfarer December 2, 2007 at 2:05 am

love this tutorial! Thanks so much!


11 Mary December 31, 2007 at 11:03 am

Thanks so much for publishing this great tutorial. I discovered it on 12/24 and decided to make a few for last minute Christmas gifts. I’ve made 5 so far and everyone loves this!! It’s so clever and simple to make.


12 cc December 24, 2008 at 7:01 pm

found this pattern last year and then forgot about it but now I’m back-

I can make ten bag bodies from a twin flat sheet. I use pillowcases for the handles so everything matches and makes a pretty little presentation. Crafters in my world are getting these this year for project bags since they’re so light, roomy, and easy to store when not filled with a WIP


13 Mary February 3, 2009 at 11:58 am

Make a small loop, about 2″ long and 1/4″ wide and attach it to the corner of the pocket. Put a small caribeanner (spelling?–one of those clips used for mountain climbing, key rings, etc) through the loop. Now you can attach your wallet sized shopping bag to your purse.

At the lower and medium priced grocery stores, their plastic bags are so cheap that they have holes in the bottom by the time I get home.


14 Mary February 3, 2009 at 12:42 pm

If your fabric isn’t as heavy as you’d like, line the bag. If you don’t like to things, put two pieces of fabric together and treat them as one piece.

Thanks for the great pattern and clear instructions.


15 Joanne March 29, 2009 at 3:53 pm

I just made two of these bags with a heavy cotton twill. They worked out great, the pattern is nice and clear. I have more fabric and next time I will make the pocket a little longer to compensate for the heavier fabric. I also used a button and buttonhole instead of velcro, which worked out well.
Thank-you for the great pattern.


16 Taryn April 2, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Wow- I love this. The pocket is genius!


17 Anne August 23, 2009 at 12:49 am

I bought one of these at the local dollar store, and have loved it ever since. Thanks for putting up the pattern. I could have made my own but it is nice to see yours.
The outer pocket is perfect for coupons.


18 Jacque August 30, 2009 at 9:23 pm

I love the idea of this bag, however, I think I am missing something in the tutorial.
Am I cutting 1 piece at 33″x19″? And if so, why does it say to pin along the bottom edges and sew? Wouldn’t I just fold it? Also, making the corners is confusing. Is it just me, or what?


19 Sophie May 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I agree not the clearest tutorial! It isn’e explained which side will he the long side so I have to figure out first from the pocket placement measurement just so I know which way around to cut my fabric. S in answer to your question I guess the poster is too busy to reply at the moment – youve maybe got you fabric the wrong way the long side folds to make the a seam on one side and then a seam on the bottom – don’t know why because I’m a noobie, but I have followed other bag tutorials and this is quite normal. So I THINK as I’m, still just starting to make it… 19inch will be the height and 16 1/2 (33in folded) will be the width of the unsewn folded bag, so pocket must be placed ‘tall ways’ (curve down I think it says), on the 16 1/2 for there to be 5inch each side of it.. (but I guess youve figured this out by now – but I hope its not to late if you fabric was directional) This really should be explained on the cutting part for us noobies! Poster please add so that no else wastes their fabric!!


20 Sophie May 28, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Thanks Karla! Its great you’ve taken the time to post this! I hope any feedback will help to make it better – I apologise if anything sounded rude in the previous post! I thought I’d have a chance to edit before it went up (sorry for the typos too!)


21 kath_red May 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm

thanks Sophie – I have added a note to the pattern to check the comments for additional advice.


22 mery October 14, 2009 at 6:49 am

i love this tutoral!!
thanks so much! ;)


23 Brenda October 14, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Wow, this is just what I was looking for. I need to make a gift basket for a social group and adding these is perfect. I have tons of fabric in the stash to work with. Thank you so much.


24 Perrine October 22, 2009 at 1:44 am

I really like your how to. I was wondering if I could translate it in French and add it to my list of how to as explained in my french post (http://www.petitcitron.com/index.php/form_howto.html)
Of course, your website would be quoted and there would be a link!
Thank you,


25 kath_red October 22, 2009 at 6:04 am

please email me whipup[at]gmail.com


26 syma November 13, 2009 at 12:32 pm

süper olmuş


27 M&M February 21, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Very nice design, but one thing is puzzling: Why is the wallet part, and therefore the handles, attached off-center (5 inches from the right side leaves 7 inches on the left side)?


28 Debbee April 4, 2010 at 7:57 pm

I love it. I am embroidering my pockets with KISS, my brother’s favorite band. i am making him a half a dozen bags for his grocery shopping. i am going to surprise them by making them something he will actually like!

Thanks for the pattern.


29 Satina November 3, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I love the wallet type pocket! Makes this different and IMO better than the rest. Thanks for sharing!


30 Dora January 21, 2011 at 5:47 am

Wallet-bag and………..I have place in my car!!!!!!Thanks for the idea!!!!!!


31 Linus November 30, 2011 at 5:14 pm

This is SO good, finished one this afternoon, started another this evening. What an excellent pattern. Thanks!!!!


32 Sophie May 27, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I’m looking forward to making these as Christmas gifts! Thanks so much for posting the tutorial! Please can you let me know what the dimensions of the finished bag are?



33 Sophie May 28, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Also which measurements will be the the top and which will be the side? I cant figure out which way around the fabric pocket will go and which way to cut my material according to it’s slight stretch and print pattern! Help!


34 kath_red May 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm

a commenter above has tested the pattern says:
19inch will be the height and 16 1/2 (33in folded) will be the width of the unsewn folded bag,



35 Jan December 6, 2014 at 7:43 am

Just made a fold-up reusable bag, omg I LOVE THIS, was so easy. Going to make a bunch for Christmas!!!!!! Thank you so much


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