Green Sewing Ideas for Your Kitchen

Sew food storage bags Nancy Zieman

Green Sewing Ideas for Your Kitchen

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Sew food storage bags Nancy Zieman

By Emily Jansson, Nancy’s Notions Guest Blogger

Cut down on your disposable plastic bag use by sewing breathable bags that prolong the life of produce. The creative green projects make perfect gifts, and they’re a fun fashion statement at farmers’ markets, too!

Porthole Mesh Bag

Make this pretty bag with a fat-quarter and Porthole Mesh.

Sew food storage bags Nancy Zieman

These mesh bags are super-duper EASY to make. It’s just a drawstring bag made out of mini mesh fabric, with 3/8″ double-fold bias pulls. Add a pretty label or a touch of embroidery to make it your own. Trust me, everyone will be totally jealous of your fashionable “eco-prowess.”

I made a couple bags with French seams and the new Garden of Plenty embroidery designs, just for fun.

Place a bunch of veggies and fruits in your mesh bag, and you’re ready to go.

Want to crisp up your greens? Try soaking the cotton mesh bag in water, wringing it out, and stuffing it with some lettuce or kale. Place it in the fridge an hour or two before you eat and watch it crisp up as if it were freshly picked. No kidding!

Generally, vegetables stored in a breathable bag, such as a cotton bag, will keep fresh longer in the refrigerator. Washing your produce only as you use it also prolongs its freshness and quality.

Vegetable Drying Mat

Speaking of washing your veggies, how about sewing a fruit and vegetable drying mat? Use preshrunk waffle cloth and cotton batting for the mat. It’s a tree-saving alternative to paper towels, which also saves produce from bruising as it dries.

Sew food storage bags Nancy Zieman

Simply stack a sandwich of fabrics like this:

  1. Waffle cloth
  2. Cotton batting
  3. Waffle cloth

Baste fabrics together, bind the edge with a pretty cotton fabric, and you’ve got a machine-washable, eco-friendly drying mat. It’s great for drying hand-washed dishes, too!

Plastic Wrap Alternative

Use a nontoxic alternative to plastic wrap—try wrapping your sandwiches in a natural cotton that has been waterproofed in all-natural beeswax. It’s very easy to make!

Sew food storage bags Nancy Zieman

These water-resistant wraps work well to wrap over bowls, fold around sandwiches, or roll up cheese and bread in. The heat from your hands helps to conform them to any shape—and they are seriously fun to make!

  • Wash cotton fabric on hot (dry hot) to preshrink and remove sizing/fabric treatments.
  • Press fabric flat and cut out squares that are 14″ x 14″ (or any size you choose) with a pinking shears or pinking rotary blade.
  • Cover a large, flat baking sheet (must be larger than your fabric square) with parchment paper, and lay the fabric on it.
  • Sprinkle beeswax pellets sparingly on top of the fabric. You don’t need to cover the fabric completely with beeswax—the pellets will spread out quite a bit as they melt. Place the baking sheet in the oven at 175 degrees. Bake fabric for approximately 5 minutes, until the wax pellets have melted.
  • Use a clean piece of cardboard to spread the melted wax around so that the whole piece of cotton is covered. If the wax cools too quickly, place it back in the oven for another minute or two, and repeat process.
  • Keep your waxed fabric sheets clean by sponging them off with mild dish soap, and rinsing in lukewarm water. Hang or towel dry the wraps, and they can be used over and over again.

That’s it!

Reusable Snack Bags

Stitch up a few reusable snack bags, too. I used a layer of PUL fabric for the inside of the bag, and then a fun, colorful cotton for the outside.

Sew food storage bags Nancy Zieman

You can find a tutorial for snack bags at this link.

To clean, turn them inside out and place them on the top rack in the dishwasher (gentle cycle is best).

Handy-Dandy Bowl Covers

Store your meals (and spare them from flies for an outdoor table) with these handy-dandy bowl covers.

Sew food storage bags Nancy Zieman

  • Use a compass (like the Yardstick Compass) to draw a circle with a radius that’s 2-1/2″ wider than half the diameter of your bowl onto a piece of pattern paper. Example: 10″ bowl: 1/2 diameter= 5″ + 2-1/2″= 7-1/2″ radius to set on the compass.
  • Follow this simple formula to determine the amount of elastic needed: (Diameter of your bowl) x 2.25 = the length of elastic to cut.
  • Cut one circle from a cotton print, and the other from PUL fabric.  Match right sides together, and stitch ¼″ from the edge—leaving a hole to turn right side out. Turn to the right side.
  • Stitch a scant 3/8″ casing around the edge of the circle.  Thread elastic through the casing with a safety pin or bodkin. Stitch ends of elastic together, and topstitch the casing closed. Voila! Perfect for fridge storage, picnics, and barbecues.

For more green ideas for your kitchen, check out this Pinterest board.

Nancy Zieman's Giveaway Winner

Sew Simple with Rectangles and Squares, a new 3-part Sewing With Nancy series

The random winner, from last week’s blogthat will receive a copy of the Sew Simple with Rectangles & Squares book is Karen B. Her comment was: The closet organizer. It would help to organize a lot of things in my closet, but also, I would make one for my sewing room to put stabilizers in. Thanks so much.

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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  • tina jachetta
    June 30, 2015

    thanks for all of the great kitchen suggestions and formula for the bowl covers. these will come in handy.

  • Clem
    June 30, 2015

    What great ideas. I have used the drying mat for a long time now, but did not know about the beeswax. Where would you get beeswax pellets to melt?

  • Mary Walker
    June 30, 2015

    I love these ideas! Can’t wait to sew up some veggie bags!

    • Lisa Kavanaugh
      February 14, 2021

      You can order them online. I have found them locally at a few health food stores. Good luck!

  • Robyn
    June 30, 2015

    Great ideas for our environment!! Thanks for the ideas!!

  • Sharon H
    June 30, 2015

    Oh, Nancy! I LOVE the porthole mesh bag, and the mini mesh bags. I think these will make nice, thoughtful gifts for my friends and family, and I can’t wait to try them in my own kitchen. Thank you!

  • Kimberly Hubbard
    June 30, 2015

    Wow! Thank goodness we have you Nancy! I would never have come up with these great green kitchen ideas. I am so excited to get started.

  • Suzanne
    June 30, 2015

    I really like the bowl covers. May have to make some for myself. The porthole mesh bags are such a good idea.

  • Cyndi
    June 30, 2015

    What great ideas and there are so many cute fabrics available that I can’t wait to try making some of them. Can we say Christmas presents!!! Thank you for the give away!

  • JudiC
    June 30, 2015

    Great information. I used all my mesh fabric to make sunscreen drapes for our veranda because I could think of no other use for it ☀️ now I must get more for the veggie bags (I always disliked the thin plastic bags in the produce dept). I also would like to know where can we get the beeswax pellets? Thank you.

  • jeanette
    June 30, 2015

    This is so nice and smart. I have vegetables from my garden that need to be in bags like this. Will definitely make some and make some for friends.

  • Elaine Douglas
    June 30, 2015

    Porthole Mesh bags can also be used to dry the herbs from your garden for use in the winter.

  • Joan Sawyer
    June 30, 2015

    I would like to make the vegetable bags not only for myself but also for my two daughters-in law. We all put in veggie gardens this summer.

  • Margaret C.
    June 30, 2015

    The drying mat would be useful for stemware. Great ideas for those fun produce fabrics. thx

  • Nancy S
    June 30, 2015

    What wonderful ideas. Thank you. I would have a use for all of them.

  • Carol
    June 30, 2015

    Can’t wait to make the mesh bags. What great ideaa!

  • Kathie
    June 30, 2015

    Since i can never find the right lid for storage bowls the fabric covers would be great. Also great for serving bowls which dont have lids – less dirty dishes which means less water usage.

  • Patricia
    June 30, 2015

    These bags and fruit/veggie drying station mat look wonderful to make and to use. They might be considered as a gift idea also. Thanks!

  • Starla
    June 30, 2015

    Great ideas!

  • Debra
    June 30, 2015

    The veggie bags are a great idea! I also know some friends who would love those bowl covers- of course in some fun food prints.

  • Barb J
    June 30, 2015

    Sew Clever!. Can’t wait to give them a try. they are all great ideas.

  • Nancy Root
    June 30, 2015

    These are all really nice ideas for gifts. Good for newlyweds, great ideas for mothers or new college grads. The porthole mesh bags are a great idea. I really like them all. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lisa
    June 30, 2015

    I found the beeswax pellets on Amazon starting at $10 a pound. Hope this helps. Love all of these green ideas can wait to get my supplies!

  • Judy G
    June 30, 2015

    Great post! I love all the ideas and plan to make them all for members of my large family.

  • Barbara J. G
    June 30, 2015

    You just gave me ideas for Christmas presents, this way if I commit an hour a day I should have everything finished and wrapped shortly.

  • eginter
    June 30, 2015

    Love the bowl covers, To really recyclecouldn’t you use a old tee shirt or scraps of cottonor double knit,going to go try one right ,now. Also saw to take a old t-shirt and serge up the sides cut off neck and cut a slit for a handle and then cut slits different places and use for produce at farmers markets or the ztore,I had no old t-shirts but had scrapsfrom knits and sweatshirt fabric so served them together and made some.see how theywork. Thanks again if I live to 500 not enough time!!

  • Marty
    June 30, 2015

    Love the drying mat: will use ‘baby’ fabric and give at baby showers. Thanks!

  • Thanks so much for including my pattern for the reusable sandwich bags! I love the fabric that you chose to make your version.

    I also really want to make those bowl covers. I saw some bowl covers for sale last summer and I thought, I should make those, and now with your formula I can. Thanks!

  • Cecilia
    June 30, 2015

    Love the mini mesh. Made a beach bag with this.

  • Gail Beam
    July 1, 2015

    Love the porthole bags! They are not only useful, but fun and cute as well.

  • Diane S.
    July 1, 2015

    Great ideas. Did you use a specific type of mesh? Where can I purchase it?

  • Diane S.
    July 1, 2015

    Oh. I see the link. Sorry.

  • Shan Cross
    July 1, 2015

    Love your ideas they are always inspiring to me . Will be make some bags for my daughters and friends. Hope you are getting well.

  • Kathe Mayer
    July 1, 2015

    Wow, now I can make the bags my daughter asked about for her son’s lunches. I had no idea about the beeswax!

  • Amelia McNairy
    July 1, 2015

    Thanks for the wonderful food saver projects, tips, and tutorials. “Go Green!”

  • Sharon Davis
    July 1, 2015

    I love kitchen stuff. Thanks for the ideas!!!!

  • Fran Taylor
    July 1, 2015

    Wow can’t wait to call in the morning to get more info! Where to get the material want the whole Guild to know this stuff!!!!

  • Judy Bott
    July 2, 2015

    This is like an answer to a prayer. Have been searching for ideas for something different for Christmas gifts (I always make 20 sets of the gift for that year) and a combination of these will be just the thing for this year. Will watch the local garage sales for nice small baskets at a nominal price to finish the projects. Thank you so much for this idea. So glad to hear your are getting along well. Keeping you in our prayers.

  • Charlene
    July 2, 2015

    OK, maybe I am braindead! What is PUL fabric?

    • Emily
      July 4, 2015

      PUL is a fantastic fabric made of waterproof polyurethane with a breathable fabric laminated to the other side. It’s wonderful (and safe!) for making things like diaper covers, etc.
      If you click on the “PUL” in the article–the blue letters mean it’s a hyperlink–they’ll take you right to a more-detailed description. 🙂

  • Diana
    July 4, 2015

    The mesh bag shown is polyester…where do you get cotton mesh mentioned for crisping lettuce.

  • Joyce M.
    July 5, 2015

    Love the Porthole Mesh Bag. Is there directions to make it?

  • Arden Shelton
    July 7, 2015

    I LUV the bowl covers. They won’t get out of shape like the cheap plastic ones!

  • Barbara Basel
    July 9, 2015

    I love all of these ideas! Can’t wait to make them. I just made the first item myself using an old towel for the outsides and a batting-like fabric called ‘Zorb’ for the middle. It’s supposed to be good for diapers, bibs, and the like. I want to decorate it first before I actually use it. I like using your idea of tje wafle fabric for the outsides.

  • Lynne
    August 11, 2015

    Where are the instructions for the 2 mesh bags? I know they’re simple, but never having made one, I’d appreciate the specs and how-to! Thanks

  • Sandra Cantrell
    March 29, 2016

    I would make the snack bags first. I am gluten free so I travel with my own snacks of nuts, cheese etc. Even the plastic snack bags don’t last forever and will go into the trash. The cloth snack bags will save some landfill space and me, money.

  • Sandra Cantrell
    March 29, 2016

    I would make the snack bags first. Being gluten free I travel with my own snacks so an e.f. bag will save me money and landfill space. Thanks.

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