Sewing Green

comments: 60


I finally had a chance the other night to really sit down with my friend Betz's new book, Sewing Green: 25 Projects Made with Repurposed and Organic Materials. It's such a wonderful book, filled with so much great information and fresh, bright, beautiful Betz-ish projects. I loved her idea for making reusable fabric produce bags to replace the plastic ones offered by the grocery store (and even the farmer's market) for lettuces, apples, onions, and such — all the fresh vegetables and herbs you purchase, and even nuts and other dry goods.

For my bags I used osnaburg, a loosely woven cotton fabric, and followed Betz's pattern pretty closely (though she had cool printed leaves on her bags, and I just wound up stitching on some of the scraps from all the Jane Market Bags I'm making up for you — I have eleven done so far and am going for twenty, so stay tuned). These are classic, unlined drawstring bags, with very easy-to-follow directions if you've never made one before. I made twelve yesterday.

Please be impressed that I am optimistic enough to think that either Andy Paulson or I might ever come home with twelve bags of produce in one shopping trip.


The check-out person will have to open each bag to see what's inside, and the bag will weigh slightly more than one of the lightweight plastic bags, but I think it will be okay. These can be tossed in the laundry when they get icky, but they're small and shouldn't use up too much energy to wash, I wouldn't think.


I've been working on getting my little kitchen really organized. I went through the cabinets and cleaned them out (which always feels good) and I redid all of my spices — some of them were so old I am sure they'd been there for all nine years we've lived here. It's amazing how much room is wasted with things you don't use unless you really stay on top of it, you know? Slowly but surely I am reorganizing things to be more efficient, simpler, and less overwhelming. This almost always translates to a psychological de-cluttering that I find intensely (not to mention immensely) satisfying.


Hey I posted a *sowing-sewing* bit today... your bags and my produce would look so good together!

What a totally fabulous idea! I need some of these...I'm trying to reduce and eventually eliminate the plastic that is used at my house, particularly in the kitchen where it comes in contact with my food, and I love this! Thanks for sharing!

You have such wonderful ideas and projects. Because of your blog, I have been trying to be more productive with my days. Thanks for being such a wonderful piece of inspiration.

CUTE! Mad checkout ladies don't bother me that much.

If you make these (or similar bags, I didn't use this pattern) out of tulle, you (and any cashier) can see right through to read the numbers. And they won't weight much at all if you buy something pricey. Still washable, and if you serge them or do french seams they will hold up just fine. Well, maybe not to something really spiky!

every little bit helps!

I just reread my post, and when I say the tulle bags won't weigh much if you buy something $$, I meant like...fiddleheads @ $6/lb. Not expensive tulle! I just used some cheap tulle that was leftover from some kid project.

I really want that book, it is safely in my virtual shopping basket waiting patiently for pay day!

I hope this isn't a stupid question: How do you store your produce once you get it home? Can you keep them in the bags?

I made very similar bags out of linen, and they work great! I leave the bags open until my food has been rung up so the cashier can see what's inside, and the linen lets the veggies breathe once we get home. Check out a picture of mine on my blog!

Francis Berryhill says: May 13, 2009 at 10:06 AM

I must know more about the fabric in todays first picture. I have old 1940s? fabric belonging to my mother that looks the same.

alicia, these are just too cute for words! my teensy weensy suggestion would be to embroider the name of a specific veggie on each bag, so that when you go rummaging through your fridge, you'll be able to know what's in each one without having to open it!

while these are adorable, i would fear for my produce in these bags. i have a hard enough time using up what's in the produce bin when i can see said produce, let alone when it's in non-see-thru bags!

Thank you sweetheart! :)

Dear Alicia!
I have been following your blog such a long time now and I have never said "Hello" before...Thank´s for so much inspiration, beautiful photos and nicely written words.
I would be honored if you would like to visit my world of
"Vintage Fairy Tales". I´m a photographer interested in vintage toys and dolls.Welcome!

I bought some ready made bags that I use weekly. I never store produce in the bags once home. I wash and store in the drawers in frig. or on the counter. I'm going to sew a few bags and include them with the market bag that I made from your pattern and give to the bride to be at her shower. Love that you share your talent, it is such a gift!

Oh, yes, there's something so holy about organizing and decluttering. Enjoy! Oh, and your bags are gorgeous!

I love you patches on your bags! Thank you for sharing your friend's book...another to add to my wish list :)

Great idea - I have some old home made skirts that I'm thinking of ripping up and making something new. This might be the perfect project! What can be easier than a drawstring?

Love these bags - I might have to make some! And the fresh produce peeking out of them is even lovelier.

I agree with you about decluttering. It always feels so cleansing in all sorts of ways.

awesome! i'm doin' it! :)

So funny you posted this. Just last week I realized that I use too much plastic with produce bags and set out to make some. I don't have this book though so I made my own pattern. I'm still working on embroidering the tare on the outside so cashiers know how much the bag weighs. I keep my produce in them in the fridge because my crisper drawers are broken. I think the only downside is you can't see what is inside when you open the fridge but its better that then using plastic! Thanks for the post!

I had the pleasure of taking a little workshop with Betz a few weeks ago when she was in NY. I bought the book and it's awesome. I like it just as much as her first book, which is saying a lot! :)

Here's how OCD I can be - IF I sewed, which I don't but wish I did, I'd stitch the names of the most common veggies I purchase onto my bags - and I'd add the SKU, since my grocery store has scales with printers so you can print your own price tags for produce. For example - Organic Carrots, 94094. With a cute picture of carrots. :)

heather says: May 13, 2009 at 01:47 PM

lovely! i've been meaning to whip up some knit mesh bags for the same purpose but i haven't managed to get there yet. i might need to just take your lead and go with a fabric version - so much faster to sew up a bunch than knit them all.

Hi Alicia;

Just catching up on your blog and when you mentioned that you had never been to NYC I was so thrilled to learn that there is someone else out there besides me who has never been to New York! I am 51 yrs. old and have never yet made it there...but I want to...and I will! And so will you Alicia...we'll have pizza together.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.