How to Make Dishtowel Vegetable Storage Bags

My dishtowel drawer is a hot mess smorgasbord of fruits, vegetables, flowers, chickens, funny sayings, and colorfully striped images, all printed on cotton rectangles. The super-absorbent among them, often dingy and stained, are the workhorses of my kitchen. The others, those with high sentimental value or less absorbency, have been smushed up in the back of the drawer for eons. They are the ones now being repurposed into vegetable storage bags.

I use the storage bags as I harvest food from the garden.

I use them to store veggies in the fridge after they have been washed.

I use them to hold electronics when I travel.

The idea came to me while harvesting greens in my backyard. I didn’t want to mix the kale, lettuce, and spinach leaves together yet didn’t have enough containers to keep them separate, so I decided to repurpose my stash of dishtowels to make harvest containers.

I started with my favorite towel, one my mother bought me from France while on one of her annual painting trips with artist friends. Talk about high sentimental value.

This painting of my mom was created by one of her friends on that trip. It captures a moment in time when she was happy and healthy.

This towel was from a pair that fell into the category of loved but not absorbent enough. I ended up making two bags with them, one for my sister-in-law, Lesley, and the other for my friend, Jennifer, both of whom garden.

I am a scrappy seamstress, but I don’t let that stop me, and I hope you won’t let it stop you. I had to finish this one by hand because my sewing machine died.

I used the trimmed remnants from this first bag to make the drawstring.

My husband gave me the idea to use shoelaces instead. I ordered an assortment of 54″ laces from Amazon.

How to Make Dishtowel Storage Bags:

Clean dish towels, any size works
54″ shoelaces


Fold dishtowel in half with right sides facing. If the towel is too wide for your intended use, trim off some of the width.

Pin side seams together. On the bag opening side, leave a two-inch gap. This is where the tunnel for the drawstring will be. Sew the side seams and trim off the edges to reduce bulk.

Sew the tunnel opening. You can do this the quick way, which leaves you with an unfinished edge,

or you can unfurl the original seams, fold the frayed edges under, pin them, and create a more finished edge.

Next, fold over the top one-inch edge of the fabric, pin it down, and sew the drawstring tunnel.

Run your shoelace through the tunnel, and you are ready for business.

One dishtowel will stay in my collection forever, and there is a story about it here. RIP to my dear and funny friend, Carol, who died two years ago from breast cancer.


Some other Fun How-Tos:
How to Make a Heart Tree
How to Make Cork Bulletin Boards
How to Build a 4 x 4 Raised Garden Bed
How to Make Whole Milk Ricotta
How to Peel an Orange or Grapefruit Quickly

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18 thoughts on “How to Make Dishtowel Vegetable Storage Bags

  1. Judy, what a great idea!! You are so right….we all have those lovely towels, sitting in drawers, otherwise waiting to be sold at our estate sales someday. What a great use for them!! Thank you for sharing the idea. You look so “picture perfect” harvesting in your garden

  2. I love your ideas! You are so creative! I’m going through my dish towel drawer tomorrow!

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. For some reason, some towels hang on to stains. I can’t figure out why or how to get them out. Those are not the bags I sew up, I do know that! Thanks for writing, Beth! Thanks for the compliment, too!

  3. I love this idea. Especially when I have a favorite towel with a giant sauce stain on it. UGH! I barely get to enjoy them before I ruin them.
    Always a pleasure hearing from you, Judy.

  4. Judy, this is wonderful! I may make some for Christmas gifts. I too am a “scrappy seamstress.” Hope you, the chickens, the family and urban farm are all thriving. Best Wishes, Ginger

    1. Ginger! Thank you. We are all good. I went on a trip last week and used one dishtowel bag to back electronics, one for knitting supplies and one I gave, filled with treats, as a hostess gift! Hope you and yours are well.

  5. Hi Judy! I had a crazy fall with neck surgery and kelly’s wedding— realized i don’t get your blog any more. Can you add me back? Hope you’re all doing well!



  6. I’m very late to the game here, but I finally have made a few tea towel bags and hope I like them enough to replace plastic bags. I was able to get plenty of shoelaces (and what a great idea that is! saves so much time!) at Turnip Green Creative Reuse.

      1. I’m sure I’ll find lots to do with them! And you know me, I love to reuse/up-cycle stuff. Thanks!

    1. Good to know about the long shoelaces. I’m happy you liked the post and then made the dishtowel bags. That makes me happy I need to make some new bags myself; I keep giving mine away with gifts of greens from the garden. I so appreciate you, Cindy. Thanks.

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