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  • Writer's pictureSarah Matthews

Doing our bit to look after the environment.

There’s a lot of talk, and rightly so, about how much plastic and in particular plastic bags are harming our environment.

Various groups and the media originally highlighted the damaging effects our plastic carrier bags are having and now, generally, we’ve gotten used to taking our own canvas shopping bags to the supermarket with us.

These groups have now moved on to highlight other plastic items and this has made me think about what more I can do to help reduce my own plastic waste. Sticking with the supermarket theme, as there are still more plastic bags we bring home from there in the form of the fruit and veg bags, I decided to target these bags.

Being able to select our own pieces of fruit and veg is great but for each collection we need a plastic bag to put them in to get them weighed. These bags are a real waste as they just end up in the bin once home, so I thought, what about using calico (a lighter weight canvas) to make a small drawstring bag that could be re-used!

I set to work, laying out the fabric double thickness with the folded edge to be the bottom of the bag, so there are no seams to fail with use over time. I didn’t want to be the person who picked up my bag and have the contents then randomly scatter all over the shop floor. I then cut the fabric to the required width for my bag. Turning the cut piece of fabric so that the right sides were together I then used my over locker to stitch the sides. You could, of course, use a traditional sewing machine for this but I chose to use the over locker for extra strength. To make the channel for the drawstring I folded over the top edge twice to make it neat and top stitched this down.

Next to inset the drawstring. I attached the cord to a safety pin, made a small hole in the side at the seam and pushed it round, removing the pin and tying the ends together when back round to the start.

Now for some decoration to make them personal - what better than to stamp a camel onto the bag? I made a rustic camel from lino and used fabric paints applied to the stamp with a sponge to print a camel onto the front. It was heat set with the iron and voilà my bag was complete.

These bags may add a few pence to my shopping each week but I think that’s a small price to pay to help reduce the amount of plastic in our environment.

Next month – wooden block printing.

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