With more and more municipalities banning or limiting the plastic shopping bag, for various reasons, those canvas totes are becoming necessities. But they're not really convenient. Unless you have a couple of dozen of the things taking up room in the back seat of the car, spontaneous trips to the store become difficult. And, eventually, it wears out, the sides split, the handle becomes detached... nothing insurmountable, but there we are.
And I just don't like the things... if you can find some that don't have idiot advertising on the side, you have to pay for them. And no matter how you fold them, hang them, our try to store them, they take too much room.
Carrying stuff shouldn't require all this thought... then I remembered Moll Flanders.
It's an excellent book, a story of an English orphan turned pickpocket, turned prostitute turned respectable American immigrant. I highly recommend it.
But the point is, in that book, at various points in the story, she whips off her shawl and uses it to bundle up baggage, children, stolen goods, etc. Throughout much old literature, women used shawls, scarves, aprons, tablecloths, etc in this manner.
Now, I'm not recommending that anybody show up at their local piggly wiggly with an old sheet to carry their groceries. Well, not exactly.
Let's start with this...
Get about a yard of rope. This is standard jute rope. You can use any kind of rope you got laying around.
fold it into two figure 8's, with the ends of the rope in the middle.
a tiny piece of duct tape holds everything in place...
Then more duct tape around it... two layers, as tight as you can wrap it.
Now, I happen to have this giant roll of bias strip that I bought for $2.00 at a rummage sale... but any strip of fabric you got will work. Consider strips of an old sheet, or a t-shirt, or anything. I've made several of these, and I've used about everything, and it all works fine.
place it through one of the loops, fold it back and start wrapping around.
when you get to the other end, cut off your strip from the roll, leaving 6 to 12 inches. Put it through either one or both of the loops, and then through the loop of fabric, pull it tight and wrap it down.
secure the end with a few quick stitches... no need to be fancy...
Then, find a big scarf. This isn't difficult around here... the normal bandana doesn't fit on my head, I have a large hat size, so I have a couple of dozen head scarves made from random cotton fabric remnants. They come in handy when I'm mowing the lawn or I haven't washed my hair... Most are plaid or skeleton prints, but for this I used the solid red so that you could see what was going on...
pull a corner through each loop, and tie in a knot.
repeat on both ends of your handle, and you have a bag.
Actually, you'd be amazed at how much these things will hold... and as to the scarves... you get 1 1/2 yards of any fabric, trim it to a perfect square and give it a tiny shirt-tail hem, and you've got a 40 inch square scarf. But you don't have to buy fabric... sheets that are faded, have frayed hems or you just don't like anymore are made from very durable fabric. A sheet will give you a minimum of 4 scarves. And I'm sure you can think of other things to recycle...
You can store at least three of these handles and three or more of these scarves in your glove-box, and I defy you to cram even one of those canvas totes in there. Plus, these wash easily... a cavas tote can be washed, but comes out wrinkled, crumpled and misshapen, and is never really right again.
Anyway, this is what works for me. If you have any other ideas, I'd like to hear them...