With Earth Day this past month and an effort to be more eco-friendly, I knew a miniature reusable shopping bag was in order!
This dollhouse miniature no-sew shopping bags tutorial couldn’t be easier, and you can make them in any color or style you choose! So, let’s say farewell to plastic grocery bags and get started!
What You Need to Make Miniature No-Sew Shopping Bags
I don’t know about you, but I love no-sew projects, and this one is SO easy that it’s perfect for beginners. It’s also very inexpensive to make! Here’s a little more about the materials I used:
Lightweight Cotton Fabric
Since these bags don’t require sewing, I actually like a lighter weight fabric for this project. I used a light linen color, but you can use any color or pattern you like! Just stick with thinner, natural materials – I haven’t tried synthetics and don’t know how well the glue would hold for those.
As I’ve mentioned before, this Quick Dry Tacky Glue by Aleene’s is my favorite and it dries pretty quickly with the fabric in this project. Also, fun fact: you can bond your fabric with glue almost instantly with a quick pass of the iron. And I do mean quick! Just don’t let it get too hot or you’ll have a singed, sticky mess.
For the bag handles, I used 2.6mm suede cord that comes from the jewelry and beading section at the craft store. I love the way it looks, but you could substitute ribbon or other cording if you prefer. However, I’d stick to something that’s flat rather than rounded.
I used little unfinished wood rectangles that came in an assortment from the craft store. They’re very thin and a little rough out of the bag, so give them a quick sand before you get started. The piece I used measures 1-1/2″ long by 3/4″ tall. However, this project affords a lot of flexibility in terms of size, so you can use a different sized base if you like. I’ll give you tips for calculating the measurements below.
This isn’t required – you can use fabric scissors, but I like the rotary with a steel-edged ruler to get clean, straight cuts on the fabric.
Fabric Transfer Paper
If you want your bag to have a logo or graphic, you’ll want to use fabric transfer paper that you print on your inkjet printer. I like the Avery Printable Heat Transfer Paper for Light Fabrics and use it for a wide variety of projects.
Tips for Making No-Sew Shopping Bags for Your Dollhouse
You’ll need an iron to press the hems on the fabric and to iron on the transfer (if you’re using one). Any average household iron will do, but if you like making miniatures, I highly recommend the Clover Mini Iron. This makes working with small pieces SO much easier. And fewer burned digits. Trust me.
Check the instructions on the transfer paper for what iron setting you should use. Generally speaking, though, you should use a dry setting (no steam) and don’t let it get too hot – this can cause the fabric and the transfer to discolor.
Mirror Your Graphics
If you decide you want to include a graphic on your bag, make sure you remember to reverse/mirror the image before printing it. That way, when you iron it on, it’ll be facing the right way.
For this project, I’m giving specific measurements for the wood, fabric and suede cord; however, you can definitely resize your bag as desired by measuring your wood base to calculate the size of the fabric you’ll need:
Length of fabric = (2 x Length of wood base) + (2 x Width of wood base) + 1/2″
Width of fabric = Desired height of finished bag + 1/4″
So, for example: If your wood base measures 1″ long by 1/2″ tall, your fabric will need to be (2 x 1″) + (2 x 1/2″) + 1/2″ = 3-1/2″ in length. And if you want the bag to stand at 1-1/2″ tall, you’ll need the fabric to be 1-3/4″ tall.
This formula doesn’t give you a lot of extra fabric to work with, so if you’re feeling unsure, add another 1/2″ in length and you can trim it down when you’re ready to assemble the bag. Better to have a little extra than not enough!
Centering the Iron-On Transfer
Getting the placement of the graphic just right is a little tricky. I just eyeballed it, but the best way to test the placement is to pick up your rectangle of fabric and hold the unhemmed short end near the center of the long edge of the base. Then wrap it around the base fairly tightly. The hemmed short end should overlap the unhemmed short end just slightly. You can take a pencil and make a very light mark near the center of the front panel to help you when you place your transfer.
- Lightweight cotton fabric
- Tacky glue
- Craft wood - 1-1/2" by 3/4"
- 2-3 mm suede cord
- Optional: Fabric heat transfer paper
- Self-healing mat
- Rotary fabric cutter
- Optional: Inkjet printer
- Take your wood base and glue it onto a piece of the fabric. Allow to dry for a few minutes and then trim around the edges with scissors. Repeat for the other side of the wood base.
- Lay your fabric out on a self-healing mat and cut a rectangle with your ruler and rotary cutter measuring 5" long and 1-1/2" tall. If you're resizing this project, please refer to my tips above for calculating the dimensions.
- Heat up your iron and move to a heat-safe surface. Fold the fabric of one short side over about 1/8" and press with the iron. Also fold and press 1/8" on both long sides. Once these are firmly pressed, run a small bead of tacky glue under each fold and hold in place until the glue begins to set.
To reduce the bulk a little when assembling the bag, I leave one of the short ends unhemmed. You really won't see this when you have items in the bag, but you can hem all edges if you'd prefer.
- If you're not using an iron-on transfer, skip to Step 6.
Print your graphic (make sure it's mirrored) on your inkjet on the heat transfer paper. Use the best quality settings you can. The graphic I printed for this project is about 1" wide and 5/8" tall. Cut it down to size, leaving a small border around the graphic. You don't have to get very close when cutting it because it will be transparent when you iron it on.
- With the hemmed edges facing down and the unhemmed edge on your right, iron on the transfer in the center of the rectangle (see tip above for placing the graphic correctly). Apply even pressure and make sure to go over it several times. Go over the edges carefully, too. Allow this to cool a few minutes, then carefully peel away the paper backing. If the backing isn't coming away clean and the transfer isn't sticking, you need to put it back and iron some more!
- Apply tacky glue to the side of your fabric-covered wood base. Start at the center of one of the long edges and apply a thin bead all the way to one of the short edges. Start with the unhemmed short edge and carefully align the bottom of your long hemmed edge with the bottom of the base and wrap it around the side. Wipe away any excess glue as you go.
- Continue to apply tacky glue along the front and opposite side of the base and press firmly to adhere. When the fabric is wrapped around three sides, add glue to the back of the base and along the hemmed short edge.
- Carefully press the hemmed edge in place over top of the unhemmed edge, making sure the top and bottom are aligned neatly. You can clamp this in place while it dries. You now have a clean, finished seam at the back of the bag.
- Cut two 4" lengths of suede cord. You can make these longer or shorter if you'd like, but I think 4" creates a nice handle length. Before applying glue, see where you want to place the handles. I adhered mine just on either side of my Farmers Market graphic. Apply a very thin bead of glue on the length of cord that will touch the bag and clamp in place to dry.
Once dry, curve the cord into a U-shape and glue the other end down in place. Clamp to dry, then repeat on the back side of the bag.
- Once all the glue has dried, you have a fun little reusable shopping bag you can load up with mini groceries! To make mine look extra full, I placed a little bit of polyfill at the bottom of the bag and then added the groceries on top of it.
© 2021 Erika Pitera, The Petite Provisions Co.
This tutorial is for personal use only. Please do not repost it without permission. Sharing a link with attribution is fine!
Please feel free to tag me on Facebook or Instagram @petiteprovisionsco with your version of these miniature shopping bags, and let me know if you have any questions!