designing bags red work
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Kicking out Plastic – Tutorial Signature Shopping Bag

embroidery hack
Design penned onto calico shopping bag

I really hate using plastic bags and avoid them at all costs. As supermarkets here are phasing out single use plastic bags, there is even more need for consumers to have their own environmentally friendly and sustainable shopping bags.

And it is not just reusable bags for groceries. Even when buying a new outfit, I will carry a clean cotton bag for my purchases inside my regular handbag, rather than use a plastic variety that is not only bad for the planet, but also advertises companies who make absolutely no effort to take care of the future of the environment and wildlife. Why would I want to promote them?

In less than ten minutes, you can create an individual environmentally friendly solution. A solution, so easy, that even the children can get involved and create their own reusable, plastic free shopping bag.

Back in 2012, I began making a variety of D.I.Y, “plastic free” bags: in Redwork embroidery, painted Norwegian Telemark and floral designs, and also with a pen and painting technique.

Here are a few samples from my existing bag stash.

But I needed more bags to have on hand, and as plain calico is rather plain, and ‘Redwork’ embroidery makes such a pretty and easy adornment. My initial plan was to embroider some designs on the new calico bags, in redwork technique, with a needle and thread. However, I am not the world’s neatest hand sewer ( far from it, really), and embroidery takes me for-EVER to complete, as I have an aversion to sewing, itself!

Solution: Enter the Evanscraft craft and cross stitch pen…. a permanent, acid free pen in a Barn red colour, that can simulate cross stitch or other types of embroidery. Wonderful! With this technique, you can create a pretty cottage garden or folk art design on fabric, (or even wood), and the result is something unique, and useful, created in a matter of minutes.

More time for plastic free shopping!!

It just might inspire others to take up plastic free shopping as well.

flower pattern

You will need:

  • A Calico or Cotton bag in a light colour from your local haberdashery store, ironed flat.
  • A pattern such as the one above, which you can trace over in thick black pen. NB. If you aren’t feeling particularly inspired to draw your own design, you can find plenty of free ‘Redwork’ or other embroidery patterns, (there are some here on Pinterest); in colouring books or even on google image search, itself.
  • A permanent pen, preferably in barn red or a dark red colour, but any colour will do, as long as it doesn’t bleed or run when you wash the bag. I used an Evanscraft Craft and Cross Stitch pen but please patch test the pen of your choosing, on a hidden corner, to check its colour fastness and suitability.

Instructions:

  1. Tape the design on a glass window to create an impromptu light box and trace your selected pattern in thick black pen.
  2. Tape the traced design on top of a piece of cardboard and slip both inside the bag, centering horizontally. The calico is fairly thin so it is easy to see the traced design through the bag. Mounting the design on the cardboard prevents any bleeding of the penned design, through to the rear side of the bag.
  3. Then it is just a matter of re-tracing over the pattern with the chosen pen, and adding a few embellishments of your own, within and around the design.
  4. A final press of the bag, with the iron seals the design and you are ready to shop!

Tip: A ruler may be used to keep long lines straight, or you may prefer to keep them loose and rustic, as I did in the border design. Use the ruler turned upside down to prevent smudging on to the bag.

A major complaint of those who continue to use plastic bags, is that they forget to bring the re-usable bags, along with them, when they shop.

I purchased the plain cotton shopping bags from Lincraft for a dollar each. Not only are they strong, bu they can be scrunched up to a really small size, for carrying inside my handbag, (see in photo to the right above).

In this way they are always on hand, for my use just when I need them.

No more forgetting the bags!!

What design would you choose?

Something environmentally friendly and creative to ponder About.