Kathryn’s Easy insulated Grocery Tote Bag:

Posted by Alexandria Attree on

Over the past few years, Reusable shopping bags are becoming more and more popular.  Kathryn has created a very easy, yet comfortable shopping bag, that is much sturdier and has some great hidden features.  Below is everything you need, written and created for our Royal Quilters by our Dear Friend Kathryn.

Kathryn’s Easy insulated Grocery Tote Bag: 

 Finished bag measures 20” X 18.5” wide.

Advantages of this tote:

  1. Large size for groceries, but not too large that you cannot carry it.
  2. Easy and Quick Construction
  3. Insulated for Frozen foods to make it home in summer.
  4. Easy wash and wear. Throw it in with regular laundry.
  5. Handles secure and won’t rip off. (can put a baguette thru them)
  6. Envy of other shoppers (pretty, pretty bags) compared with their commercial bags (ugly), are often hard to wash, and fall apart over multiple washings. 
  7. Can adjust handles for your height. Shorten straps if you are less than 5’5” tall. Or can put it over your shoulder as they are long enough.

Fabrics needed:

1 half metre pretty fabric for outside of bag (I had some saved fruit fabric that I hadn’t found a use for yet, can even use two FQ’s).

1 half metre, coordinating fabric for handles.

2.5” strip coordinated/contrasting fabric for binding on the top of the bag.

1 half metre of batting (or insul-bright) by 44” for body.

2 – 66” strips of 2.5” batting for handles. Easy to use precut.

1 half metre of inside lining fabric such as muslin.


Cutting main bag:

  1.  Cut two rectangles 20.5” X 19.5” of main fabric.
  2. Cut two rectangles same size of muslin.
  3. Cut two rectangles same size of batting.

Cutting Handles:

  1. Cut three 5.5” wide strips (contrasting fabric) for handles (alternately sew two leftover 2.5” binding strips together).
  2. Cut two 2.5” batting strips measuring 66” long (one for each handle-can piece them with leftovers from quilting).


  1. Layer bag pieces and quilt as desired to hold layers together. Suggest a combination of straight lines (I did mine using a walking foot), or practice your free motion styles, but does not have to be dense quilting. (Remember it is only a grocery bag so make it easy on yourself).
  2. Sew the 5.5” strips two and one half together (press seam open) to make them 66” long. Then iron edges in a quarter inch, while folding it in two. Insert the batting strip completely inside and sew down the open edge. Finish with sewing the opposite edge and one line in the middle to stabilize the batting.

Sewing Handles to each side of the bag:

Lay out flat (not twisted) place one end of the handle 4” from the bottom of the left side, curving up and around, and down to the other side, 4’ away from that side.

Fasten with stitching across each end of the handle at the bottom of each side panel. Repeat for other strap on the other panel. I also secured each handle part way up twice, so I could secure say a baguette on the outside between the handles and then at the top.

Next sew the bag sides together, leaving the bottom seam open. You can either do a French seam or just zig zag the inside seams to finish the edges. Then sew the bottom together catching inside the two handles on either side so all raw seams are inside, and then zigzag to finish the seam.  Be careful to push the rest of the handles out of the way while sewing, back up in the bag. Do two rows on the bottom to make it quite secure.

With the bag still inside out, take the bottom corners of the bag, flatten out making a triangle shape and sew 3: from the point across. These corners then just fold inside the bottom of the bag and sit there. This gives the bag a more squared shape at the bottom.

Last, add a strip of binding along the top of the bag, the same way you would bind a quilt, joining the ends in your preferred way.

Top Closure Options:  

  1. Velcro strips or snaps across the top.
  2. Button and sew a strip of fabric, say 1’ X 6” folded to go over the button on the other side.
  3. Zipper across (for those skilled at this technique-would need some extra fabric at the top likely to do a zipper).
  4. Can leave open for regular groceries, but close for frozen ones.