Reusable Lunch Bags (sewing tutorial)
As a parent of young children, I find myself in constant need of snacks on the go. Between packing my second grader’s lunch and grabbing snacks to take with the little ones to gymnastics or on errands, I am always reaching for a plastic baggy. I stitched up a few reusable baggies and, not only are they cute, but they are the perfect, earth-friendly substitute for your typical snack storage! You can make these reusable bags in less than 30 minutes; crumbs shake out easily or you can wash them in your dishpan to use over and over! Ready to make some?
Here’s how: First, you will need to gather your supplies. I used oilcloth/laminated cotton for the outside/main fabric – it wipes off with a damp cloth, repels water, and just makes a really nice outer layer for these bags. Note: oilcloth will melt if you touch it with a hot iron – choose a piece that is as wrinkle-free as possible; if you must iron it, use a very low heat setting and work on the back of the fabric, be very careful! For the lining fabric, I used a thick canvas material that is 100% cotton. I wanted a natural material since it would be physically touching our food. You will also need a strip of velcro 1″ shorter than the width of your bag pieces. Machine sewing with oilcloth can be tricky because the outside of it typically sticks and the machine requires a Teflon foot to pull the fabric through. For this project, you will not need any special tools as the main side of the oilcloth does not come into contact with the sewing machine/sewing foot. You can also place your hands in front and behind the sewing plate while stitching to help guide the oilcloth through.
1. Cut your fabric. You can make your bags in any size. You will want to cut your fabric 3/4″ wider than the finished size and 2 x finished height + 3/4″ (for seam allowance). Cut one piece of the main fabric and one piece of lining. We also need a flap; for the flap, cut one piece of main and one piece of lining. The flap pieces should be the same width as your bag pieces and 3″ high. For this specific bag, you can reference the measurements in the image above.
2. Attach the velcro to your project. Sew the rough piece of fabric 1″ down from the top edge of the main BAG piece, center it on the outside. Sew the soft, corresponding piece of velcro 1″ from the edge of the lining FLAP piece, centered on the right side of the fabric.
3. Sew the flap. Place the two flap pieces, right sides together, and sew around three sides, using a 1/4″ seam allowance, and leaving the top edge open. You can round the corners by tracing a round object and sewing along the curved line as shown. Trim corners and seam allowance and turn the flap right side out. Set aside.
4. Sew the two bag pieces into pockets. Working on the main bag piece and the lining bag piece separately, fold the length of the bag in half, right sides together. Stitch down each side; be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end to secure the stitches. Trim the bottom corners.
5. Prepare the bag for stitching together. Press the seams of the lining pocket flat, then turn it right side out. Slip the lining pocket inside the main pocket (which is still right sides in); match the side seams and place a couple pins just along the top edge (so that pin holes don’t show in the finished oilcloth). Now, you will need to insert your flap piece. See the diagram above to place the flap correctly. You will want the lining pocket between the two velcro pieces, and the velcro pieces should be facing each other. Raw edges for all pieces should be matched at the top.
6. Stitch all the way around the top edge of the pocket, using a 1/4″ seam allowance. This small project will take a little maneuvering to get it under the needle of your sewing machine, but should be fine once you get going. Leave at least a 3-4″ opening at the center, opposite the side with the flap, for turning.
7. Now, turn the whole project right side out. Work slowly and carefully – you don’t want to tear your oilcloth by pulling too hard. Once you have the whole bag turned right side out, push the lining into place as the inside of the baggy. Fold the raw edges of your opening in and finger press in place.
8. Last step! Now, you’re going to top stitch around the bag, right along the top. This gives the bag a finished appearance and closes up the opening at the same time. You may want to press the top of the bag before stitching, but use a cool iron, try to press the lining only, and work carefully! Also, you can turn the bag so that the lining faces out if your machine has trouble pulling through the oilcloth. Now fill that baby up and you’re ready to roll!
If you would like to make a sandwich baggy or something with some extra room inside, you will need to add another 2″ to your bag measurement width. Then, after step 4, you can make the bottom corners squared off by pinching the bottom so that the bottom seam pressing up against the side seam, then sew a line straight across that corner as shown below.
Do this for both corners, on both the main bag and lining bag pieces; trim excess fabric. Then continue with step 5.
Yay! You made it – now you can whip some up for your purse and more for the lunchboxes!
What are your favorite snacks for on the go?