One of the best gifts I ever got was a pretty fabric bag to store all the plastic bags I seemed to collect from grocery shopping. Plastic bags come in handy for all sorts of things from transporting wet bathing suits to packing shoes in a suitcase to keep them from soiling the clean clothes. Here's an easy way to make one:
You will need a piece of cotton fabric-about a half yard, 6"-8" of 1/8-1/4" wide elastic, cording about 18"-24" long, sewing machine, thread, scissors, safety pin. The "about" measurements allow for you to use up scraps or hit the remnant bin at the fabric store.
Put two sides of material right sides together and sew a seam so that you make a long cylinder leaving the seam open two inches at top and bottom. At the top sew a hem or casing for the cording to pass through. Tuck the raw edges in to finish off the opening where you will pass the cording through using a large safety pin. Tie the two ends of the cording together (if you want to get fancy, you can add a large wooden bead here as well.
At the bottom, make another hem or casing and pass the elastic through. Either tie the ends together tightly or sew them. This should close the bottom enough to keep the bags inside but yet allow you to pull one at a time out of the bottom. If you give it as a gift, be sure to put some bags in it to demonstrate its use.
Another gift idea is to make reusable grocery bags either from scratch, or buy some inexpensive ones at the grocery store and personalize them with your own appliqued designs either sewn on or by using iron on appliques.
[posted by Karen Robbins]