Sep 13

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DIY Grocery cart bag

front final

More photos after the “Read More” tag!

In Zurich, there is very little need to own a car because the public transportation system is excellent. We take the train, bus, or tram everywhere, and it also helps keep us healthy when we walk down to the main street to do our grocery shopping. Not having a car means that one needs to have a way of carrying stuff home, especially the heavy items like milk and canned goods. Thus, we join the Zurichers in pulling around a little grocery cart with us, perhaps looking a little bit like grannies, but I’d rather rock the granny look than dislocate a shoulder :D


I originally bought the cart frame online after doing a lot of research to find the sturdiest one that wasn’t priced in the hundreds of dollars, and though the frame itself has held up after two years of use, the bag itself gouged open on the frame on the first day. The other day at the store, I’d finally had enough of the unsightly, cheap-looking bag and vowed to make my own.


I had made a previous attempt two years ago and failed miserably, because I was trying to use scraps of oilcloth and Ikea bags… and safety pins. It was a Frankenstein bag that threatened to fall apart at any second. This time, I was armed with ample amounts of banner canvas (the rubberized stuff that Freitag bags are made of), donated by a friend who has access to printing shop remnants and used canvas pieces. Though most of the material was hot pink, I decided to give it a try anyway.



Diagrams are not to scale.

I first drew a bunch of sketches (above left) to determine what kind of shape and pockets the bag should have. I wanted to make all straight edges to prevent any complications and to speed up the process. Then, I took the sketch I chose and expanded it into the individual pieces I would need for it to fit on the metal frame (above right). I also find it very helpful to write myself a short instruction set to check off as I go because there’s nothing more frustrating then realizing that you forgot to attach something five steps back.


Materials used in this project:

-banner canvas material

-existing cart frame





Time spent on project: 1.5 days (including unstitching, making corrections, sitting there staring dazedly, etc.)


First, I measured and cut out the pieces, and left tons of seam allowance to allow for any potential mistakes– I like to err on the side of extreme caution, since my sewing skills aren’t all that super.

laying out

The nine pieces, some of which I already sewed together and/or hemmed. I followed my instruction set from my diagram, and it prevented some major mistakes along the way!

Next, I tried to figure out all the finicky little details, like the cloud pattern on the front (which also has to be attached first), the curves on the lid, etc. The clasp at the front was attached with straps cut from the remnants of the material. I wanted to put some detailing on the clasp straps, so I ran a stitch along both sides, just to give it a little bit of a finished look.


Straps threaded through a clasp

ribbons 01

A stitch running down both sides to give the straps some visual detail


Below is a shot of me testing things out, late at night. At this point, it’s becoming clear that the lid part was way too long, so a length was removed from the back bottom to shorten the front.


The white tag is a number tag that I stick on each piece so I don’t get confused about which piece is which. The numbers correspond to the numbers on the diagram. Plus, it helps me see which side is the right/wrong side.


Afterwards, all the pieces are clipped together (I used Clover Wonder Clips. You *could* technically pin them, but I don’t recommend it for this kind of material, as it is super tough, and pins will leaves holes on the fabric and probably in your fingers) to do a fit check of the final product. I had to snip off tons of the extra seam allowance I had added, but that was planned anyway.


The hardest part came next– sewing the sides and bottom together when everything is turned inside-out. I had to unstitch and restitch once (a new record low for me) which isn’t really great for this kind of fabric because the holes stay visible when you take out stitches. Then I had to enlist the help of a larger person than me in order to flip the bag right-side-out again. It took ten minutes since the material is so stiff.

Here’s the final product:

front finalside finalback final

I’ll be testing the cart after the weekend. If it works out, I might also upgrade the wheels to something a bit more rugged. I’m not too sure if the thread I used will hold up to heavy use, but I suppose I can always patch it. Adds character, anyhow!


PS: Feel free to use my diagram/pattern for this project for your own use, and I’d appreciate if you credit it back to this post. Be warned that the diagram really isn’t accurate, though! I had to make a ton of adjustments along the way.

Permanent link to this article: http://project-aika.com/2014/09/diy-grocery-cart-bag/

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