Macramé Produce Bag Tutorial


*This post is one of Scissors and Steam's most popular ever! Help support the blog and visit my Etsy shop, Retro Academic, if you're into awesome clothes!*

Today I have a new tutorial for you! Awhile ago I saw a pin on Pinterest of a mesh market bag with little pom-poms hanging from it. I thought it was just so cool, so I had to figure out how to make one. As usual, I had zero idea what I was doing, so if I can do this, so can you!

You will need: 

1 spool (50 yards) of cotton cording (I used this stuff)
1 wire coat hanger (or some other bendy thing you can make a circle out of)
1 plastic coat hanger (the kind with the clips)
Some yarn
Band-aids (trust me)
Measuring Tape

First let me explain the band-aids. I learned about three rows into this project that yanking on cotton cording repeatedly and with force is roughly equivalent to taking a cheese grater to your skin. Once you start knotting, take a second to figure out where the cords are rubbing, and put some band-aids on. Seriously. I have matching blisters on my forefingers that are so painful they woke me up last night! It's gross. It looks like I have finger herpes. BAND-AIDS people. If you don't use them and you end up with blisters, I will laugh at you. Not really. But I will sniff disapprovingly.

Not really.

Anyway. My last post mentioned chartreuse dye. This is what it was for! I used iDye, and.... Really I hate to say it, cause I don't like the idea of bashing stuff here, but I cannot in good conscience recommend this stuff. Really, it's crap. I've used it a bunch of times because it comes in some awesome colors, and EVERY time I've used it, I've been disappointed. The colors always seem to come out blaaaah, and then they bleed, bleed, bleed. And yes, I follow the directions. I've tried salt, vinegar, and even chemical anti-bleed agents. None of it worked. The man has a whole stash of pink clothes because of some red dye I used once. Fortunately he likes pink. Cause he's a real man.

Anyway, this time was no exception. I wanted chartreuse (I've been obsessed with that color lately!) but ended up with more of a... I dunno, maybe wasabi? Yeah. It's kind of a wasabi color. Luckily I like the color, so it's all good. I left a section of cord undyed, because I wanted a stripe of natural white in the bag. You can do that too, or dye it a different accent color. I think blue would look cool, or mustard yellow.

First you need to measure out the cord. Now, I was absolutely convinced when I was making this that I didn't have enough cord. Turns out 50 yards is perfect!

Measure out one 85 inch length of cord and cut. Use that piece to measure out 17 more pieces, all the same length. You'll use the remainder for the drawstring top, which is also where you'll start knotting from. So you should have 18 pieces, plus the one extra piece.

Okay, so this is the rig I used. You have to have a way to hang the bag as you make it, because otherwise you'll just cuss a lot and not get anywhere. And maybe spill your coffee everywhere when you get frustrated and slam the mug down on a shelf. This may have happened.

I took a wire coat hanger and snipped off the twisted ends. And when I say "I," you should hear "Travis," cause I have this weird phobia of wirecutters and would almost certainly find a way to lose a toe or something if I were to try to do it myself. After clipping off the ends, Travis used some pliers to bend the tips just enough so they could hook together (take a look at the picture below, the one after the next one). The reason for this is that you need to be able to slide the wire out when you're done.

So then bend the wire into the shape of a circle, about 1 foot in diameter, and hook the ends together. Then find somewhere to hang your plastic clippy coathanger from. I used the light fixture in our breakfast room. Tie a few pieces of yarn to the wire circle and then clip it to the coathanger, like in the picture above. Fiddle with it until it hangs horizontally.

Now take your remainder piece of cord and double it up, then twist it around the coathanger. This will be your foundation cord, as well as the drawstring for the bag. Tie it off in a loose knot.

This is how you make a "lark's head" knot:

That's the knot you'll use to attach all the cords to the foundation cord. Take one of your 85" cords, fold it in half, then take the looped end and put it behind the wire/foundation cord. Then bend it down over the wire, and draw the hanging end through the loop. Then pull it tight. 

Do that for all the rest of the cords, spaced an inch or two apart, until you get this:

I used a triangle knot for the rest of the bag. It's a basic macramé knot, but I'm not going to try to explain it cause I'll just confuse you, probably. Look here for some really good, visual instructions. I imagine you could also use a square knot, but I didn't try that. 

So, space your knots about an inch apart, as in the picture, and go around in rows. Pull the knots tight. They will work loose if you don't. (*sigh* this is before I realized I was getting nasty blisters. BAND-AIDS, minions!) Here is how it looks after the first row: (I swear I did not intentionally dress to match, lol)

As you get further down, start spacing the knots a little bit farther apart. You want it to be a little roomier in the middle of the bag.

These pictures are far too sane. How inaccurate.

That's better.

I made about 9 rows total.

When your rows get near the bottom, start halving the distance between knots to decrease the size of the base, until you can't any more. Then, start skipping pairs of cords to make it smaller and smaller. This will make the fringe at the bottom too. Eventually you'll just get to the end, where you can't make any more knots.

I know that's kind of vague, but really I was just winging it. This bag is very forgiving of mistakes and messiness. Here's what the inside of the bottom looks like:

And the outside, with the fringe:

Now unhook the metal ring and slide it out. You'll have a nice drawstring handle, be careful not to accidentally pull it out! Untie your original knot and retie a stronger one near the end, where you want it. Sorry I don't have a pic of this step. 

Trim the fringe ends to the length you want, and tie a little knot in the end of each one to prevent fraying. You can dab some fray-checker on the ends, or just use a bit of clear nail polish.

Now you're done with the bag!

 I made a little pom-pom clip decoration to attach to the top.

It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but the multicolored pom-pom is actually a diamond shape. Did you know you can use clippers/beard trimmers to shave pom-poms into all sorts of shapes? Now you do. And so does the man. (oops)

I love this bag! It's the perfect size for fruits and veggies, it's tough, and it looks awesome! I hope you give it a try. It really wasn't difficult; it took maybe a couple hours total and only cost about $10 to make, including the dye. 

Make sure you follow me. I am slightly off-kilter and like to spread it around like a virus. I mean the crazy. Not the other thing. Also, I am a master of the unfortunate metaphor. 

What I mean to say is, you will almost certainly get to laugh at me at some point if you hang around. You can stalk me here, by rss,on Bloglovin', twitter, facebook, and Pinterest!

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  1. You make the most interesting things. I wish you would explain how to make those cute little pom poms. I think I made them 100 years ago when I was young , but I don't really remember.... Have you ever tried using RIT dye ? It doesn't come in cool colors ( well they are pretty basic ) but you can combine them. I used a dark green and bright yellow to come up with a lime green/ chartrusey like color ( I likes it anyway ).
    You keep making me smile....
    Still stalking you from Making Home :)

    1. I am actually going to do a mini-tutorial on the pom-poms, so hang around for a bit ;)

      I haven't tried rit, but I might try mixing the colors if that works. I was making a rag rug out of old sheets, but I was so unhappy with the dye job using the iDye that I sort of abandoned it... maybe I'll try redyeing it with Rit.

  2. I love this :) I've been looking for a bag like this for ages, and now I won't have to buy one, I love all the pictures as well :) Thank you!

  3. Gahhhh! I love the pictures you're taking! I NEED a new camera! Great tutorial. Good job, my dear.

    1. Get one. I've taken thousands and thousands (literally) of pictures since I got it. I LOVE my camera! I want to get a macro lens though, cause it doesn't do as well when you're up close.

  4. Oh you are so funny!!!I can´t stop laughing every time I read your stuff. You explain all with a twist that makes you want to do it(I´m hoping you understand my words because I´m very bad in english)Thanks for your explanations and for make me laught

    1. Your English is fine, thanks so much! I hope you do try some of this stuff :)

  5. How cool is that??? I used to do macrame back in the dark ages! When we made hanging tables and plant holders!



    1. Oh yeah, I remember when I was a kid my Mom gave me a macrame book from the 70's! I guess all this stuff comes back, eventually :)

  6. I doing miniatures. I'm currently working a sea themed one and I wanted to make one of these around a small bead. Perfect timing, thank you. Now if I can only do it mini! :)

    1. I was actually thinking about trying that too, but haven't been brave enough yet. Let me know if you do!

  7. I love that,,!!! it's a good idea for kids to keep small toys tidy and can be make on funky colours .. !!!

  8. you have some great ideas. I am happy to now be following you. when you have a chance check out my blog

  9. This bag is soo cute! And you have a really easy to follow tutorial too, thanks!

    I'm your newest follower via GFC and Linky Followers!

    Feel free to stop by and check out some of my crafts too, if you'd like :)

  10. I love this idea it's very cute and simple.Is it very strong?

  11. You look adorable in the picture where you were under it! You actually looked like you were trapped under long strands of string beans! Haha. Well, that produce bag is certainly a cut above everything else when it comes to style. I think the best part of it is that people can actually add trinkets and personalize the design to make it their own, just like what you did with the little pom-pom.

  12. What a wonderful tutorial! I'll be thrilled to add a couple of these to my pile of market totes. Thanks a million for taking the time to make and post it!
    I was thinking that for the drawstring, instead of doubling it and tying the two cut ends to the doubled middle, you could wrap it around twice and tie the cut ends to each other. That way you could have the choice of pulling it from both sides at once to create a two-loop handle, or pull the doubled cord from one side. Does that make sense?
    Thanks again!

  13. The link to buy the cotton cording isn't working :'(


I'm not always great at replying to comments but I DO read every single one of them and I always reply in my head. So in my mind we've had this deep conversation about the meaning of life or whatever, and we're best friends, and we craft together on Sunday afternoons while drinking Mojitos and watching old Indiana Jones movies. So thank you for your comments. And now I want a mojito.

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