Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Added Pattern: SewUseful San Fransisco Shopper

The SewUseful San Fransisco Shopper is based on standard grocery-store plastic bags and reuses pillowcases as the source fabric. The pattern was inspired by San Francisco's ban on plastic bags.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

New Pattern: Monterey Cotton Crocheted Bag

Just added a new link to the "Patterns to Crochet" sidebar section. The link has color pictures and detailed instructions. This looks more like a beach bag or general tote vs a standard grocery bag, but you might find it useful anyway.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Australian artist Helle Jorgensen crochets plastic bags into amazing sea creatures. Just in case you were looking for another project for your old plastic bags.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Our First Macrame Pattern!

If you thought I was kidding with the macrame reference in the header, well, I was. A little. But a search for macrame bag patterns found this page, which gives some very good general guidelines for sizing, method, etc. So if you're into macrame, check it out!

So now we have a macrame section in the sidebar.

If you have an online or downloadable pattern for a reusable shopping bag in any craft method, please send it to makeabag at yahoo dot com (that's an email address, folks) and we'll add it to the site. Thanks!

Event - Somerville, MA 8/18/07

Magpie and the Somerville Arts Council is hosting REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE...RECRAFT! this coming Saturday in Somerville, MA. Besides 25 vendors selling eco-friendly goods, local
environmental non-profits, free activities and live music, they will have a table to decorate your own reusable canvas tote. Click the link for details.

Muslin Tote Swap

If you like to sew, here's a swap for you to follow along: A Muslin Tote Swap. Sign-ups are closed, but take a look and get some inspiration!

I'll link this in the sidebar's sewing section.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


I'll be out of town for a few days. Yes, I am bringing my knitted bag project with me. Hopefully, when I get back, my USB port will cooperate and I can show you some photos!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Project Feature: Easiest DIY Reusable Bag EVER!

Beth at Fake Plastic Fish came up with this excellent project, an easy and quite viable alternative to new reusable bags. She writes:

"Plastic bags are easy to fold up and keep in your purse or backpack. They're just not as cute as hip nylon bags and they don't scream "Environmentalist" when you carry your groceries down the street. So you want people to know you reuse your bags? Turn them inside out and write "Reusable Bag" on the outside. You could even make a tally of the number of times the bag has been used just to prove it."

Beth was being a bit tongue-in-cheek to make a point. But I think it's a good point and worth sharing here. The last thing I want is a bunch of people rushing out to buy acrylic yarn and bringing it home in plastic bags in order to knit/crochet reusable bags.

So, if you already have a collection of plastic bags lurking under your cabinet, try this out.

Turn your bag inside out.*

If desired, add a design.


After some experimentation, Beth and I decided that ball-point pens work best for adding designs to the bags. A certain popular brand of permanent marker works great, but is a bit fume-y. Bold-tip washable markers designed for kids are a bit light, but also work, if you let them dry thoroughly before using.

I totally love the tally marks.

The best part: Once your "Easiest DIY Reusable Bag EVER!" gets a hole in the bottom or the handles rip, you can cut it down into plastic "yarn" and make it into another bag like this one.

*Apologies to Target. Your bags are very reusable, thanks.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Finer Line

A big THANK YOU to Beth from Fake Plastic Fish for the plug and link! I had been fretting about how to get word out about this blog, and here she came to my rescue. (I didn't even have to ask!)

Beth just posted a great article about thinking before you purchase a new reusable bag. Here's a great quote from her post: "It's not so easy to see past the advertising to the reality that the best way to step lightly on the earth is to stick to the 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, in that order. Nowhere in that list is Buy More Crap." Awesome.

Then she goes on to mention this little blog as a resource for options to buying a new bag. I can't thank her enough.

Minor Change
I have decided to make a minor change in how the blog is structured. I was going to have it be open, where anyone who was making a bag could post. But, even though we might all be concerned about polar bears, sea turtles and that big blue ball called Earth, everyone has their own opinion as to what is an acceptable balance between using resources and abusing them.

This theme seems to be popping up everywhere in green-focused blogs that I read. Sew Green linked to a recent post by potter Laura Zindel (hosted by One Black Bird) about whether ceramics are environmentally-friendly. I tend to think they are, if your alternative is plastic. (And note the quote from potter John Hull.) Laura's own opinion is that they are not, and describes her recent efforts to convince a green-minded gallery owner NOT to sell her pieces! (Laura's work is beautiful, by the way. If you're looking to replace some of your plastic with ceramics, go check it out.)

Personal conservation efforts run the gamut from angry chicken's efforts to replace her children's plastic ware with earth-friendlier (and healthier) alternatives, to Beth at Fake Plastic Fish weighing her plastic usage every week, to No Impact Man's exhaustive lifestyle overhaul.

Some of us refuse to use electricity. Some of us knit (sew, crochet) grocery bags. We all gotta start somewhere. The important thing is to do something. Even if you can't do it perfectly.

So back to the blog structure. In order to avoid public debates on whether someone is evil if they can't afford organically-grown cotton to knit their bags and use acrylic from Freecycle instead, I won't be opening the blog up to the general public. (Oh btw, please don't buy new acrylic yarn to knit/crochet bags. More on this later.)

But if you would like to contribute an article, pattern, photo, or other content, please contact me at makeabag at yahoo dot com. I'll review and see if it's right for the blog (mostly looking at tone and family-friendliness here). Of course, anyone submitting content will receive full credit. Even if you just want to share a photo of a bag you made, go ahead and send it.

And one more change: I'll be posting more essays, ideas, project features, and resources. I'm hoping to make this blog a clearinghouse for everything you need to Make A Bag.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

In the meantime...

While you're still working on your not-plastic grocery bags, ask your local store if they give credits for reused plastic bags or using cloth bags. The two major-chain grocery stores I shop at both give a .05 credit (US) for every bag you reuse. These are regular stores, not stores with a significant focus on organics or whole foods or anything special. So ask.

Even if your local store doesn't give credit for reused bags, reuse them anyway until you get your non-plastic stash up to speed.

BTW, IKEA has started charging shoppers for plastic bags.