sewing 101: image transfer produce bags

With farmers’ market season upon us, it’s always a good idea to have lots of reusable produce bags on hand. But the problem with regular cloth bags is that they’re not see-through, making it easy to lose track of what’s in the fridge and resulting in tragic forgotten-vegetable casualties. To help keep track of what you’ve got, whip up some of these image transfer bags. Simply snap some shots of the veggies you buy most, print them out on photo transfer paper and iron the images onto these easy-to-sew muslin bags. Never lose your Swiss chard again. — Brett Bara

Read the full how-to after the jump . . .


  • cotton muslin fabric
  • iron-on transfer sheets
  • photos of your favorite produce
  • twine or ribbon
  • sewing machine, iron and basic sewing supplies


1. Cut the fabric.

To begin, cut a piece of muslin fabric that is twice the size you’d like your finished bags to be, plus a couple extra inches for the drawstring casing. I cut my fabric to about 19″ x 26″; folded in half, it makes a rectangle that’s 13″ x 19″, with a fold along one side (which will be one side edge of the bag). This is comparable to an average-sized produce bag from a grocery store, but feel free to customize the size to accommodate whatever you plan to put in it.

2. Sew the bottom and side.

Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew across the bottom of the bag and up the side (the other side will not need to be sewn because it’s the folded edge).

3. Make the drawstring casing.

On the remaining raw edge of the bag (which is the opening at the top), fold under the edge 1/2″ and press, then fold it under another 1/2″ and press. Sew the fold down all the way around.

Next, fold the edge down another 1″ and press. Sew this in place, but leave an opening of about 3″ in the seam (remember to back stitch at the beginning and end of this seam so the stitches don’t unravel).

Here’s how the opening will look in the casing.

Turn the piece right-side out, iron all the seams and you’ve got yourself a bag!

4. Insert the drawstring.

Tie the end of the twine to a medium-sized safety pin.

Feed the twine all the way through the casing.

Trim the ends of the twine and tie them together at their ends.

5. Transfer the image.

Image transfer time! Following the instructions on your transfer sheets, print your produce images onto the transfer paper.

Cut out the images, leaving a small border.

Iron away, again following the instructions for your particular transfer paper.

Peel away the backing and admire your new produce bags!


Laura @ Found Beauty Studio

Love this idea! I use old kitchen towels to make produce bags. They’re really strong, the edges are already bound, and they hold up to frequent washing. But I do have the problem of the lonely, lost veggies that I’ve forgotten about in the fridge. I’ll have to try this.


i love these! i did something similar almost 5 years ago & have not used plastic bags in the grocery store since. great beginner sewing project!


How cute! Such a great gift idea too. Can the bags be washed?

Elisabeth Ryan

wow. that’s a great idea! that totally solves the problem of not being able to see through the bags. where can one find image transfer paper? a good source for the muslin?


What a great idea – they look so elegant too. I need a potato bag so must try soon.


I am a complete sewing newbie… can anyone recommend any online tutorials for how to start to learn? This bag looks fun but I’m already hung up on step #1 – “sew the bottoms and sides” – eek! How? Won’t the edges fray? Gah! Help!


How is the safety pin used to pull the twine through? Thanks for elaborating a little on that step!

Amy Azzarito

Hi Julia –
It’s just like if the drawstring came out of your pants, just a little trick. You clasp the safety pin on the end of the twine, and that gives you something to work through the bag. Good luck! Amy


LOVE It. Looking forward to using some ‘abstract’ images to represent what’s in the bag. Thank you.