Stop using plastic baggies: replace them with this homemade reusable fabric alternative

Guest post by Kristina

Like a good enviro-conscious Seattleite, I've been trying to reduce my usage of plastics and non-compostables. I realized the majority of plastic baggies we use are to hold dry snacks, and it seems like an awful waste to keep buying them, using them, and throwing them away. My friend stumbled upon some fabric reusable pouches on the internet, and per usual, I decided to try my hand at making a few!

These bags are lined with rip-stop nylon, which is washable and food-safe. I eye-balled the size, and you can easily adjust to make these bags bigger or smaller.

Be sure to pre-wash, dry, and iron your fabrics before getting started.

To clean these bags, you can turn them inside-out and wipe them with a clean cloth…or, you can throw them in the washing machine with your next load of laundry.

Materials Needed:

  • 14″ x 6″ rectangle rip-stop nylon fabric (inner liner)
  • 14″ x 6″ rectangle cotton fabric (main pattern)
  • 4″ x 6″ rectangle cotton fabric (accent color)
  • Two 1.5″ sets of Velcro (soft, sewable Velcro works best. Do not use adhesive-backed “no-sew” Velcro)

If you look at the finished pouch, you'll see the placement of the Velcro straps.  One set will be on the patterned cotton, while the other will be mirrored on the nylon.  Sew Velcro in place, allowing a 1 inch border from the edges of the Velcro straps and the fabric edge.  Repeat for the nylon block.

Take the accent color block, and press a 1/4 inch seam along the longer side.

 With the "right side" of both the pattern and accent blocks facing up, place the accent block on the opposite side from the Velcro straps.  Match the unfinished edges of the two blocks, with the pressed seam at the arrow below.  Sew the block in place, 1/8 inch from the edge.

Place the nylon block above the cotton blocks with the Velcro sides facing up on both, like below:

 Bring the nylon block on top of the cotton blocks, as if turning the pages of a book.  The velcro should be sandwiched inside the two blocks (a bit difficult to see in the following picture), so the "right" side of both blocks are touching.  Sew along the perimeter with a 1/4 inch allowance from the edge, leaving a 2 inch gap in the center of the accent block (dotted line below).

From the 2 inch gap, turn the pouch inside out.

 You should have something that looks like this:

 Press the edges, including the gap on the accent block.  Be sure to tuck in the fabric like this:

Lay the fabric such that the nylon side is facing upwards.  Fold the patterned side and match it with the accent block (red arrow below) and sew along the dotted line twice: once with a 1/4 inch allowance, and again with a 1/8 inch allowance from the edge.

Here’s a close-up so you can see the 1/4 inch and 1/8 inch seams.  Your reusable back is now complete!

 Ready to hold some snacks!

 A comparison with a plastic sandwich-sized bag.  If you make it a bit bigger, these pouches could hold your sandwiches, too!

 My dog Digby hopes the snacks are for him.

Happy crafting!

Comments on Stop using plastic baggies: replace them with this homemade reusable fabric alternative

  1. Ahh! Digby is so cute! I’d give him so many snacks 🙂
    I love this idea. I suppose you could use a vinyl fabric or something non-absorbent to make baggies for sandwiches or other things with less dry ingredients. Wish I had a sewing machine! Husband wants to get some baggies for his lunches, but I keep pushing him to use the tupperware. Must. Resist. More. Plastic!

  2. I’m all for reducing waste, but these aren’t air tight, which is pretty much the only reason I use plastic baggies. Therefore I mostly use tupperware (yes, it’s plastic, but I’ll use it for many years before disposing and the glass tupperware is way too heavy to carry around all day as I’m a college student without an office or anything).

    • If packed and eaten the same day, airtightness shouldn’t be an issue for most foods really. Unless you’re living somewhere extremely muggy. Another solution would be to use a zippered closure rather than velcro to keep it more airtight.

      • That’s a good idea. I was thinking of using a rainwear fabric to line the baggies for use here in Nebraska. If you didn’t know, instead of getting stale out here, a bag of opened chips gets… mushy. Soggy, if you would. I think the combo of zipper + non-latex rainwear lining would be a winner!

    • Yes! I love the idea of a zipper pouch. I was a little overwhelmed with the liner options proposed by the internet, and didn’t have much personal motivation to find something airtight…but let me know how that combo works, it would be great to know for future projects!

  3. We have some very smiilar baggies we bought online. I think the brand is called Itzy Ritzy, and we love them! If I had a sewing machine (or the patience for hand-stitching), I’d make more for us to use!

  4. I kept saying that I was going to make some baggies like this, but time seems to keep slipping away from me so I broke down and bought some online to hold me over they should be here any day now! My only advice to those making bags is to make sure that your inside lining is food safe with no PVC, Phthalate or BPA.

  5. Love this! What a great idea. I’ve been trying to reuse my plastic baggies but this is even better. Thanks for showing us how to make these!

    Btw, Digby is the cutest ever. These baggies would be great for taking pups on walks – you could put treats in them for leash training! The flap makes for quick, easy access rather than a ziploc baggie.

    • I was thinking I have no use for these bags, since I don’t use plastic baggies since I squish everything (Tupperware for LIFE).

      BUT for dog treats, I am LOVING this idea. I have having them loose in my pocket, and the flap will be so much better than fumbling with a ziplock. You could even sew a loop on the side opposite of the flap to attach to your belt or purse strap!

  6. I keep mulling over buying some of these, but the pattern is so simple that I just couldn’t bring myself to spend $20+ on two rectangles of fabric sewed together. I never thought about rip-stop nylon, so I’ll have to pick that up when I head out to my local Foam and Fabric next.

  7. I have these, but mine are flat squares with the velcro on the diagonal so they fold in. Does that make sense? Let me find a quick pic.
    Like so…

    Really easy to wipe down, throw in the wash, quick to dry. Admittedly I got my mum to make them for me, but I have a ton for the kids to make their school lunches, sandwich size and snack size. They always struggled with plastic wrap, but I didn’t like the expense of buying bags all the time, so we made these. Awesome! The four year old can make her own lunch in a heartbeat.

    We use small tupperware containers for ‘wet’ snacks or cut fruit that needs to be airtight.

  8. I have wrapped sandwiches in fabric napkins to pack in a lunch, but these would be great for so many things! the rip-stop nylon is a great idea and I am definitely making some. thanks for the great post!

Join the Conversation