Burlap Shopping Bag Pattern – Avoiding Plastic And Shopping With Style

burlap shopping bagThis is the first part of a tutorial using the burlap shopping bag pattern.  You'll be able to make the complete bag in the first part, but in the second part, I will show you how to create the print for this type of fabric.

On my recent trip to Tanzania, I fell in love with the country.  I will share a post about that trip and the fabrics I brought back with me.  One thing I noticed is the lack of plastic bags on the roads, in fact, I was amazed to see a relatively clean country.  The reason: the government has completely prohibited the importation and use of plastic bags in the country.  Which means people are reusing the ones that are available and are shopping with reusable shopping bags.  In fact, fabric shopping bags are everywhere.

So in the spirit of recycling, I wanted to share a  bag made out of one of my favorite materials: burlap also know as hessian.  I love the texture and mixing it with soft materials is my favorite thing in the world as you can see on my table runner.

How to Make a Fringed Table Runner in Under an Hour


  • 3/4 yard of burlap hessian on natural color is best
  • Thread to match
  • Pair of easy handbag handles  (see our tutorial on how to make easy bag handles HERE)
  • 1  1/2 yards of 1″ wide cotton tape or bias cotton tape


  • Scissors
  • Jeans or size 16 needle
  • Sewing machine
  • Walking foot (optional)

Fabric suggestions from Fabric.com

Pattern download

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Download the Free Pattern

You can download the pattern for this Burlap Shopping Bag from our account at Payhip.

For help downloading and printing PDF patterns, please CLICK HERE.

How To Print Your Burlap Shopping Bag Pattern

The only program you will need to print the pattern is Adobe Reader.  Use Actual Size and Landscape Mode.

Pattern LayoutBurlap shopping tote bag pattern

How To Sew The Burlap Shopping Bag

Sew the sides of the bag at 3/8″.  The pattern is drafted to take a seam allowance of 3/8″ but if your burlap has raveled you may have to adjust that amount so that the corners match when it's time to box the corners.burlap shopping bagburlap shopping bag

I would suggest sewing twice to reinforce the bag.burlap shopping bagSew cotton or bias tape to the side seams to hide the edges.

Box the corners. Sew at 1/2″ using a straight stitch.burlap shopping bag

Zigzag with a medium stitch.

Trim the edge right up to the zigzag.

Zigzag again.

burlap shopping bag

Apply cotton or bias tape.  I like to join two strips of tape together the length needed plus the seam allowance.burlap shopping bag

Sew three sides of the tape at about 1/8″.

burlap shopping bag

burlap shopping bagburlap shopping bagFor the next step, you will need a pair of bag handles. You can buy them or make your own as I showed you in my last post.

Pin the handles to the top edge.  The handles should hang down with the seams facing you.  Allow 5″ of space in between the handles.burlap shopping bag

Sew the facing pieces together at 3/8″.  Then iron or finger press the seams open. Zigzag the edges to avoid the burlap from raveling.burlap shopping bagZigzag one of the edges. burlap shopping bagburlap shopping bagTurn the zigzag side and make a hem at 1/2″ and stitch.  This side will become the hem of the facing.

Pin the facing right side down to the edge of the burlap tote shopping bag.  Sew at 1/2″.burlap shopping bag

Turn the facing inside and topstitch the edge at 1/4″.burlap shopping bag

burlap shopping bagburlap shopping bagOptional Step:

You can add velcro or a magnetic snap on the facing to close the bag.

If you want the bag to look like the one on the picture, wait for next Tuesday and I will be sharing with you a way to make a print for this bag. But if you can guess what it is please let me know in the comments below.  The first one to guess will win a pattern from our Etsy shop.

Need another shopping bag? Try this folded one that packs neatly inside your bag and makes a very good present:

Folded Shopping Bag FREE Pattern. Never without a bag when you need one!

Until next time! Happy sewing and recycling!

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84 Responses to Burlap Shopping Bag Pattern – Avoiding Plastic And Shopping With Style

  1. Pingback: Burlap Shopping Bag – Free Sewing Pattern – Sewing - Carelyst

  2. Denise Hosner says:

    Modpodge! I can’t find the tutorial, tho ..
    Mayra, the download link is not active. Could you provide your measurements used for the bag?

  3. Laura Sammons says:

    Did you use a potato?

  4. Karol says:

    Looks like it could be a stencil and paint or ink.

  5. Annabel says:

    I have read your tutorial on making bag handles but how do you make the little semi circle at the end of each handle. Thanks

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Hi Annabel, it is not a semi-circle it just looks that way in the picture. When you sew the strap to close it the ends buckles a bit and it looks like is rounded but it is not.

  6. Sandra Young says:

    Screen printing? 🙂

  7. Marilyn Larkin says:

    Thank-you for your patterns, they are so environment friendly. I have no idea other than using a stencil and fabric paint. Whatever you did it is great. We in Australia have banned single use plastic bags for over 2 or more years ago now, indeed may even be longer, so….. lots of fabric bags, some are lined with heat resistant batting to keep cold produce cool, and others are not lined at all. Easy to wash during COVID and no danger to the environment. So glad other countries are on board My mother first saw single use plastic bags in South Africa nigh on 50 years ago and thought they were marvelous, how everything changes.

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Hi Marilyn, Indeed Australia has been at the front line with recycling, reusing and avoiding waste. Just now many countries have caught up with the trend. I used mod podge and a napkin to glue it outside.

  8. Sharlene Ferrin says:

    Fabric paint and napkins

  9. Becky Payne says:

    I think the print is made with stamping!

  10. Joyce Wirch says:

    Mod podging a paper napkin?

  11. Amey says:

    Thank you for sharing your background story about the burlap and your trip to Tanzania. You gave me a great idea of what to do with burlap I bought a few years ago to make shopping bags. I recently discovered some appliques that I had made for another project that would be great for the bags!

  12. themidnightcookiekitchen says:

    Iron on print transfer made on printer

  13. Peggy Melfi says:

    I think you’re going to use paper napkins to make the print~

  14. Ruth Hampson says:

    Did you use a paper transfer?

  15. Ruth Hampson says:

    Possibly a Bock Print was used on your market tote.

  16. Ruth Hampson says:

    I think a stencil was used.

  17. Elizabeth Abbott says:

    I expect you will be printing the latter with either a stamp or a stencil, the patterns are lovely

  18. Candice Robin Ritchey says:

    I love the bags!!!! Stamps and fabric paint!

  19. Molly says:

    So my guess is. Mod podge

  20. Jennie says:

    Is it painted and stenciled?

  21. Jocelyn says:

    Are you using a laser printer and freezer paper to print on the burlap?

  22. Alberta Grebe says:

    vegetable stamping

  23. Melody says:

    Did you hand carve stamps for the print? They’re beautiful!

  24. I believe you are going to use Indonesian batik dying technique.

  25. Anne Girard says:

    In order to give your bag a unique look, I think you used napkins with modpodge. There is a technique to use.

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