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1/2 yard cotton fabric, 44" width
1-1/2 yards wide, double-fold bias tape
7" narrow elastic, 1/4" width is good
People who buy fabric by the meter: you can follow the same instructions, but your 1/2 meter of fabric will get you a bag about 5cm higher ;-)
Step 1 - Cut Handles
Keeping the fabric folded as it was cut from the bolt, selvages together, cut 2” off selvage edges. They will be 2” x 18”.
Take remaining fabric, cut at fold and square up, making two pieces 18” x about 20” (this will depend on the original width of the fabric).
Press NON-selvage edge towards center, just a bit more than a third of the width. Press selvage edge over top of raw edge, stitch handles close to edge of selvage.
Measuring in about 6” from edges on long side of one bag piece, place elastic (once) and both ends of one handle, baste in place a scant ¼” from the edge. Add only handles to second bag piece.
Cut two pieces of bias binding the to match width of the top of the bag, where the handles are tacked on.
Making sure you start with the narrower fold, open bias tape, align edge with top edge of one bag piece, stitch along the fold. Repeat with other bag piece.
First press bias binding straight up, making sure the bag top is getting pressed downward. Then fold binding to the inside of the bag and press again. From inside, top-stitch along the lower edge of the bias binding, then stitch again along the top edge, as close to the edge as you can.
Place bag pieces right sides together and line up top edges. Sew side seams and finish, either with a serger or a zig zag stitch on the sewing machine.
With bag right-side out, place bag on ironing surface. Pull seam away from you, leaving a 2” section. Press to make a 2” fold from seam all along the side of the bag. Leaving the seam where it is, pull the top side of the bag towards you until it also has a 2” fold. Press.
With bag still right-side out, sew bottom edge a scant ¼” from edge. No need to serge or finish seam. Cut one piece of bias binding the width of the bag bottom, PLUS 1”.
Sew about 1” along all four top folds, as close to the edge as possible. This makes the bag easier to fold.
For PDF version: Half-Yard Shopping Bag