The Foldable Grocery Bag Tutorial

How to make a lightweight foldable grocery bag is what you'll learn in this fun and easy sewing tutorial. Step by step I'll walk you through the process of making a lightweight grocery bag and adding some plastic snaps to fold the bag

I try to avoid using single use plastic or paper bags whenever I do my shopping. Often times though, I forget my bags at home! With this simple project, you can always have a grocery bag on hand. It is a DIY reusable, lightweight, and foldable grocery bag. It folds and snaps closed into the size of a small wallet, so you can throw it in your purse, the glove compartment of your car, or even your back pocket for easy access anytime! It is also a fun diy gift for a friend!



Lately I have been using these plastic snaps on various sewing projects. They are a great alternative to buttons and velcro and so easy to attach! Having a box at hand with 24 different colors opens up a lot of possibilities. I love using them for baby items like bibs, clothing, reusable diapers because they have a strong hold but are easy to open and close. They were great for this foldable grocery bag project! I also think they would be quite striking if used with home items like a duvet cover.

Our detailed instruction manual on how to attach MadamSew's Plastic Snap Buttons will guide you through this and many other projects!

A Free Pattern and Tutorial for a Reusable Lightweight Foldable Grocery Bag

This is a neat little project.

Who doesn’t need reusable bags these days?

The canvas totes I get for free from shops or brands are great, but they take up a lot of space and I forget them at home half the time. I often pop in a store for some groceries on my way home from work and having a foldable bag ready to go in my purse is so convenient! Grab it, unsnap it, and pack it with all the fresh produce you need! The little snap buttons keeps the bag compact when not in use.  

Making practical everyday things makes me happy especially when they contribute to less waste. I’m posting all my makes on my personal instagram page, so if you’re interested follow me @an_madamsew!


  • Material:
    • One piece of 36”x 32” lightweight synthetic material.
      • Nylon is recommended due to its strength and water resistence.
    • 2 plastic snaps in whatever color you'd like!
    • For easy stitching (I like anything that makes tasks easier!) and reinforcement, you can also use a piece (2"x26") of fusible hem tape to make the handles but it's not required.



  • The pattern:
    • This project is so easy you don't even need a pattern because you can just use the dimensions to cut out your pieces. For the purpose of clarification, I have included a drawing of the pattern pieces in step 2.


Make a Foldable Grocery Bag in Ten Steps

1. Cut 2 squares 18” x 18”. If you can cut on the fold this will minimize some of the sewing/finishing. Cut 2 straps 3"x26".

2. Mark on the wrong side of the fabric where the handles will be attached. For my bag I positioned them 5.5" from each side. You can also mark a diagonal seam on each corner 2" from the bottom. Please see the dotted lines below for guidance. Do this on both squares.

3. For the handles, if you are using fusible hem tape follow the instructions to press it onto the wrong side of the fabric of each handle. Press a seam on both sides then double fold and press again (see below). Stitch both sides of each handle with an edge stitch. You can use an edge joining foot for this job. Straight top stitches are guaranteed!

4. With right sides together, sew alongside 3 sides (or 2 if you cut your squares on the fold), leaving one side open for the top of the bag. Because this bag has no lining, finish the edges with your serger or with an overcast stitch using an overcast foot. I did the latter because I had a black thread on my serger for another project and I am too lazy to change the threads twice :-)

overedge foot

5. Attach the handles to the bag. Raw edges together, on the right side. So the handles will lay on the bag when you sew.

6. Turn the edge of the bag in twice, press and pin down, and make sure the handles now lay outside of the bag. You fold the handles together with the edge of the fabric, but with the second fold, you turn them back to the outside. Sew all around at the edge of the fold and give some extra stitches to keep the handles in place.

7. To make the bottom part of the bag flat, sew along the diagonal line you made on each corner. Put the right sides together. Line up one of the side seams with the bottom seam and pin in place. You should now have one bottom corner pinched together. Stitch across 2 inches from the corner. Repeat this for the other corner. You can cut the excess part off and finish the edge with your serger or just leave it like this on the inside.

8. To determine the position of the snaps, you will need to decide how you'd like to fold your bag. You should think about what works best for you. Because once the snaps are on the bag, this is how you will have to fold it… every time :-)

How I fold it:

  • Put the handles on top of the bag
  • Fold the sides in towards the middle
  • Fold the top end and the bottom end towards the middle, on top of each other
  • And finally, pick up the top end and fold it over the other

9. Mark where you want the snaps to be placed (each snap has two halves, a top half and a bottom half that will snap into each other). Our Plastic Snap Buttons Online Manual will guide you every step of the way!  

heat erasable fabric marker

10. Attach the snaps using the pliers for the plastic snaps. If the fabric is too thick to push the snap parts through with your hands before you push them into place with the pliers, you can use an awl to make a little hole.

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And … if you have a lightweight store-bought bag lying around that is not foldable (or snappable), you can just add a snap and make a foldable one in 2 minutes. Just follow steps 8 through 10.

While I was looking for inspiration for this DIY grocery bag, I saw another little bag with plastic snaps that I would like to make: a cutlery bag. A small pouch to take cutlery to work when I take my salad or when I buy a take-away lunch (I told you already, sometimes I’m lazy :-)). I saw some lovely examples on Etsy that I would like to try myself.

UPDATE I made the travel cutlery bag and wrote a tutorial about it! And I made some bandana-style baby bibs that close with plastic snaps as well.

What projects do you see yourself using these snaps on? Comment below and let me know!

Questions or suggestions? Don’t hesitate to send me an email: 

And I’m still curious about what you are making. Share it in our Facebook group or on instagram with the #madamsew hashtag!

Happy Sewing!


Sewing aficionado and keen sewing blogger/vlogger.
An is Madam Sew’s dedicated creative brain, writing and filming insightful, inspirational content for the sewing enthusiast.