When you want to avoid plastic bags and paper bags from supermarkets and are also not fond of the folding woven synthetic bags that you now see for sale in many places, how can you make your own?

  • Are we talking about shopping bags or the produce bags?
    – Stephie
    Dec 21, 2022 at 22:01
  • Shopping bags but self made produce bags will not be that different.
    – Willeke
    Dec 22, 2022 at 13:50

5 Answers 5


When was a kid, pretty much everyone had a net / mesh bag. Back in the day, usually from garishly bright nylon strings, but these days I see them more and more in cotton. They are super light, expaaaaaaand like crazy and will fit in every pocket - as opposed to a shopping basket that will always use up the same space, whether full or empty.

There are lots of instructions available on the Internet (I like this example because it has an extra sturdy bottom) if you are a crafter, but you should also be able to buy them.

The ultimate recycling hack would be to crochet them out of old t-shirts, that can be upcycled into a kind of yarn.

  • Old curtains can go a long too!
    – Ken Graham
    Dec 22, 2022 at 14:38
  • I make my own nettes bags, by using the craft fishermen have used for a long time. But crochet is a good alternative.
    – Willeke
    Dec 22, 2022 at 15:19
  • @Willeke fancy! That could also be an answer for your question.
    – Stephie
    Dec 22, 2022 at 19:12

How to make a reusable replacement for plastic or paper bags from the supermarket?

I have done sewing projects for years now and have made many shopping black bags of relatively thin cotton for grocery shopping 🛍!

I have made a small lunch bag with handles for work. It has been in use for years now and even gets washed periodically. After all it contains my lunch. In a pinch I have even used in for shopping when I only have to pickup a few small items.

I have even made breathable collapsible black bags for my hiking trips and I am foraging. They are synthetic however.

Needless to say, that around here (British Columbia) many stores sell reusable bags. Some are of natural materials, while others are synthetic. To be honest I find them poorly put together and I do not like spending $5.00 a pop for them. Besides I can make them for pennies and I can use up scraps!

  • That’s the way to go - and you can easily recycle fabric that you already have around. So give the old sheet / blanket / shirt / … a second life instead of tossing them out or turning them directly into rags. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of the pattern you linked to, but that’s just preference.
    – Stephie
    Dec 22, 2022 at 13:55
  • @Stephie Thanks you for your comment. I like being thrifty.
    – Ken Graham
    Dec 22, 2022 at 14:02
  • 2
    I have once used an old dress shirt in a similar project (sewing the part with the buttons and button holes shut) and it looked super fancy.
    – Stephie
    Dec 22, 2022 at 14:08

The bags do not have to be synthetic. Before the era of supermarkets and self-servicing, everyone used natural-fiber bags. And then the potatoes went there together with the apples and with the carrots. Of course, it was a bad idea to mix strawberries there too, but for that you had another natural-fiber bag.

But with the capitalistic world of today, that kind of setup is no longer really possible - unless you buy all your produce from the people of some village somewhere.

However, in order to minimize waste, I have a few strong bags made of some synthetic stuff, and I carry them with me every time when I go shopping. Some of these bags were in use for more than five years, and still going strong.


I make my own netted bags, and have been doing it for quite a few years now. Most are made out of netting cotton, as sold to fishermen and the knots, methods and tools used are also those of fishermen using small mesh net.

Being a member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers, I have had a display of nets (and lanyards) I made over the years in Fareham, near Portsmouth (and that is in the UK) in May 2016. Some of the nets are made by other methods and other knots, mostly to show people it is possible to do it, not because I liked the method. Nets and lanyards displayed on a wall

Nets and lanyards displayed on a wall

One thing that does not show up on the photos is that most of the bags made by traditional netting have inner pockets. Which can be small bags on a bit of string or it can be part of the 'wall' being doubled, attached to the bottom and sides and with a string though the top and the outside of the net next to it. You can always store the full net in that small pocket.

The Solent Branch of the IGKT has basic netting instructions. For those who would like some video instructions, Sally Pointer makes a Roman style net bag,and Knotting Knots has a different set of round net instructions.

I am sure there are many more sets of instructions on internet as well as in books. So search on if you want to know more but these links do not work for you.


In the UK, in the 1950s and 60s, wicker shopping baskets were very common:

Wicker shopping basket

(Image "free to share and use" courtesy of https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/85747/placing-an-image-inside-a-basket-in-photoshop)

They are still available on a number of Etsy sites and there are Youtube videos that can show you how to make them.

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