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Making a reusable produce bag using a serger

It was super exciting to make a complete quilt top with the serger in yesterday’s post. I can’t wait to make another one. For those of us with a lot of jelly rolls (or strips you’ve cut from your stash), this is a quick and easy quilt to make – a fast gift!

Today, I’m using the Husqvarna Viking HUSKYLOCK s25 serger to make a non-quilting item. But that’s okay because quilters don’t just make quilts.

We’ve all become more environmentally aware and I’ve been wanting to make some reusable produce bags for a while. So that’s what I’m making today.

 

Husqvarna Viking HUSKYLOCK s25 serger

 

materials

I pondered what type of material to use for the produce bags. I wanted something see-through so it would be easy at the checkout to read the product code. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.

I happened to be in a window covering shop a while back and thought of the sheer material used for window coverings. I scouted around and found exactly what I was looking for. It’s sheer and it’s sturdy.

I bought one yard of the fabric which was very wide – somewhere in the neighborhood of 120″ wide. It was less than $10. I should be able to get a lot of produce bags from this piece.

 

A sheer fabric used for window coverings

 

I also needed some cording for the top. I found packages of 3/16” white cord at the local craft shop.

 

White cording 3/16″ in diameter

 

Cutting

I cut 10 pieces measuring 17″ (length) x 20″ (width). There was a bit of sheer fabric leftover and I was able to cut 4 more pieces measuring 13″ (length) x 20″ (width). Each piece will make one produce bag.

 

The pieces of sheer have been cut down to size

 

Finishing the top edge

I decided to leave the HUSKYLOCK s25 serger set up the same as it was for the jelly roll quilt. I used a 4-thread overlock stitch and I left the cutter in place. I know quilters like to keep things simple so even though there might have been a different stitch I could have used, the 4-thread overlock stitch worked just fine.

 

Serge along the top edge

 

This fabric doesn’t fray so it probably wasn’t necessary to serge the top edge, but hey – the serger is sitting right there and it’s an easy seam. I serged the top edge.

I’m cutting those thread ends off with the rotary cutter so I chain serged the top edges of all the pieces.

 

Chain serging the top edges of the produce bags

 

This edge will be turned to the inside so I didn’t bother securing the thread ends of the serged seam. I simply cut them off with the rotary cutter.

 

Trim away the thread ends

 

The side seam

I folded back the seam allowance (a long narrow fold) on both sides at the top of the bag. You can pin these back if you want. Alternatively, you can put a pin in as a marker about 3″ below the top of the bag. Starting at the bottom, serge until you get to the 3″ mark. Then serge off the side of the bag, leaving the top 3″ on both sides open.

You can also eyeball the mark – just don’t forget and serge right to the top!

 

Pin the seam allowance out of the way

 

In the photo below, you can see I’m arriving at the portion that has been turned back.

 

Arriving at the 3″ mark from the top

 

To serge off and leave those two edges free, simply move the fabric to the left of the needles and keep serging. Make sure to chain off at the end with about 6″ of thread so you can finish off the end of the seam.

 

Push the fabric to the left to serge off the side seam

 

This is what it looks like when I’ve finished serging the seam. Note: The top 3″ of the seam has been left open. This will get folded down and stitched in place to make the channel for the cording.

 

The top 3″ of the seam has been left open

 

I use a skinny bodkin to feed the serger thread back into the loops on the serged seam.

 

Bodkin for inserting the serger thread back into itself

 

 

Feeding the thread end back into the loops of the seam

 

It’s not necessary to thread the entire loose end back into the seam. I usually aim for the length of the bodkin needle. Any excess can be trimmed away.

 

Excess thread after feeding the end into the seam can be trimmed away

 

It’s hard to see in the photo below, but the thread ends have been fed back into the loops of the serged seam.

 

The thread ends are tucked back into the seam

 

I folded both of the seam allowances back and sewed them in place using the sewing machine. Make sure to secure the threads using the fix function at the beginning and end of both seams.

 

The seam allowances at the top of the side seam have been secured

 

Finishing the top

I folded the top edge down about 1″ to create a channel for the cord to go through.

I also sewed this in place using the sewing machine. Make sure to secure the beginning and end of the seam with the fix function. I used the sewing machine in the free arm position to make it easier to sew around the seam.

 

Fold the top edge down about 1″ and secure with a line of stitching

 

The bottom

Starting at the side with the seam, serge the bottom of the bag leaving a thread tail at both ends so the seam ends can be finished.

 

The last seam – the bottom

 

If you decide to chain serge this seam, make sure to leave a long thread tail at the ends so you can finish the end off properly.

 

Leave a thread tail at both ends so they can be threaded back through the seam

 

Once I’ve used the bodkin to thread the tails back into the loops of the seam, I secured it by adding a dab of Fray Block.

 

Use Fray Block to prevent thread from working loose

 

Thread the cord

Cut a length of cord about 27″ long. You want it to be as long as 2 x the width of your bag (my bags are about 10″ wide) and a little extra (about 7″)  so you can tie a knot.

Using a bodkin, thread the cord through the channel at the top of the bag.

 

Use a large bodkin to thread the cord

 

Turn the bag right side out (the seams will be on the inside). There’s the finished reusable produce bag. It was fast and inexpensive to make these bags.

 

The finished produce bag

 

They look awesome! You could almost leave your produce sitting on the kitchen counter in these bags! Much more attractive than plastic.

 

The produce bag looks very attractive on the counter

 

This was such an easy project, I went ahead and finished all the bags.

I’m keeping mine with my reusable grocery bags so I won’t forget them. Wait, I just showed them to my husband who also does some of the grocery shopping. He took them all!

 

My completed stack of reusable produce bags

 

I just received an e-mail from one of my local fabric shops. Oh no – look what I found. Mesh in amazing colors. Now I have visions of laundry bags, clothing bags for the gym, bags for travel, and a whole lot more. All I have to do is change the size of each bag for its intended purpose.

 

Mesh in bright bold colors

 

There you have it! A super week of serging! While I’m a quilter, I’ve had access to a serger for many years. I wouldn’t be without it. It’s so fast to finish off the edges of projects – could be a bag, could be a garment, could be anything.

I haven’t thought much about using it for quilting. But after my experience with the jelly roll quilt, I might just be using my serger for quilting way more often.

That brings to a close this week with the Husqvarna Viking HUSKYLOCK s25 serger. It was great fun to play with it and it wasn’t complicated at all. The important thing to remember with a serger is the order of threading! I’ve barely scratched the surface of all this amazing serger can do.

I had a blast and I hope you picked up a couple of tips.

Have a great day!

Ciao!

 

This is part 5 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 4: Finishing the serged jelly roll quilt off with a border

Elaine Theriault is a teacher, writer and pattern designer who is completely obsessed with quilting. Elaine’s Tech Tips column (originally published in A Needle Pulling Thread magazine) is now available online in e-book format at QUILTsocial.com. When not quilting, she enjoys spending time with her two dogs, Lexi and Murphy, or can be found cycling across the country. Her blog is crazyquilteronabike.blogspot.com.

1 Comment

  1. Delaine

    This is an amazing idea with so many possibilities. Thanks!

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