One of my favorite projects is making cloth grocery bags. I came up with the design. They turn out quite strong and easily hold heavy items such as two six pack sodas.
I like to use thicker fabric, often upholstery, for the outside and thin fabric for the liner. If you're going to try this make sure you use a heavy needle on your machine.
I tried to have as little folds as possible because the outer fabric is thick enough as it is.
The body of the shell and liner are both 18"x36". The bottom piece is 6"x13" each
Shell and liner are made seperately. Attach ends of large rectangle to form tube. Sew tube to bottom piece.
Make two handles that are 6"x15". Sew longwise inside out then pull thru right side out.
The handles will be in this shape when you sew them to the bag.
Put shell and liner together. Liner is on the outside and shell is on the inside with right sides touching. They are sewn inside out for an invisible seam and to minimize folds. The handles are sewn in at the same time.
Note: At this point it is easy to make a mistake with the handles. I put them in wrong while making this bag. On the up side I have a picture of my mistake to warn you.
Since the bag is sewn inside out the handles are tucked between the right sides of the shell and liner. Here's how I messed up:
Here's the correct way:
I sewed two rows of straight stitch to join the bag. The extra row is mostly to secure the handles in place. My fingers are showing the open space that I use to turn the bag right side out. After righting the bag handsew hole closed.
The finished bag:
A peek of the lining (which used to be a pillowcase, by the way):
I also make patchwork versions out of upholstery samples.