Enjoy lunch from your custom-made lunch bag

If you haven’t heard the news recently, sustainability is definitely en vogue. Many companies are carrying more and more products made from recycled materials or that can be reused. One thing you can do as part of the sustainability movement is taking your lunch to work in a reusable lunch bag. It saves the waste of paper or plastic bags that are simply thrown away, with the added bonuses of saving you money and encouraging healthy eating.
Sewing your own lunch bag is actually much simpler than you might think. Using a couple of fun printed fabric squares and some interfacing, you can sew a lunch bag that meets all your needs. Make sure to keep track of your pieces as you go. This project also involves sewing a zipper and some hand stitching. While these skills may require some patience and practice, they are accessible to all levels of sewers. Go slowly and soon you’ll have your personalized lunch bag and reduce your waste.
- 2 fat quarters
- Ruler
- Pencil or fabric marker
- Fabric scissors
- Straight pins
- Sewing machine
- Thread
- Iron
DIY Everywhere
1. Set out your two fat quarters, interfacing, sewing machine, and scissors. Cut a piece of interfacing that is a little larger than your fat quarters.
2. Lay the one piece of interfacing down and your fat quarters on top of it, with the right side of the fabric facing up and the wrong side facing the interfacing underneath.
3. Measure four 2-inch strips, two 3-inch strips, and two 9-inch squares. This should use all surface area of a fat quarter. You should cut these for the two fat quarters and the piece of interfacing. This will give you a total of eight 2-inch strips, four 3-inch strips, and four 9-inch squares.
4. Turn the edges of four of the 2-inch strips under and press them.
5. Pin the interfacing between two of the pressed 2-inch strips. This should give you a top piece of fat quarter followed by a layer of interfacing then a second layer of fat quarter.
6. Sew the two pinned strips with interfacing you just prepared. These will be the bag handles.
7. Turn one edge of two matching 2-inch strips and interfacing under, then press.
8. Pin one of the strips to the zipper with the folded edge against the zipper teeth.
9. Stitch the fabric and interfacing to the zipper. You now have one side of the zipper plain and the other with fabric and interfacing stitched to it. Trim any excess fabric and interfacing to line up with the edge of the zipper.
10. Pin and sew the other strip to the zipper as you did with the first. Trim any excess fabric and interfacing. Set your zipper piece aside.
11. Lay out the 9-inch square bag front fabric and insulation.
12. Pin one end of one of the handles you previously made to the bag front at 2 inches from the top and side. To find this, you may want to use two rulers and measure with both at the same time. Repeat on the other corner, again finding 2 inches from the top and side, and pin the other end of the handle.
13. Repeat step 12 on the bag back — laying out the fabric and pinning the second handle you made.
14. Sew the handles down. This can be done simply by sewing a small square following the bottom edge of the handle.
15. At this point, you may want to double-check your work by laying out all your pieces. You should have a front and back of your bag, a zipper piece that will go between the front and back pieces, and two 3” pieces (we have not worked with these yet) that will go along the bottom and sides of the bag, all with matching interfacing.
16. To continue, pin the bag side pieces — the 3-inch pieces and their coinciding interfacing — to the zipper piece, placing them so the right sides of the fabric are facing each other. You will be pinning them together on the shorter ends. Then, sew them together.
17. Pin the zipper to the bag front with the right sides of the fabric facing each other. Sew them together.
18. Lay your piece down with the front of the bag piece facing up and the zipper piece at the top. Fold the zipper piece forward over the bag piece, then fold the right corner back up to create a triangle on the zipper piece with the overhanging side piece. Then, fold the side piece back over the bag piece. Pin this in place. Repeat on the left side.
19. This should have lined up your bag front piece with the edges of the side pieces. Stitch the sides to the bag front all the way to the bottom of the bag front.
20. Similar to how you folded the side pieces at the top of the bag, fold them at the bottom at an angle so they hang out to the sides of the bag front like wings. Then, holding the fold you just made, fold the overhanging pieces back toward the middle of the bag front, lining up the bottom edge of the bag front with the edges of the lower side pieces.
21. Your side pieces will overlap with each other at this point. Instead, take the extra at the end of the overlapping side pieces and fold them up so the right sides of the fabric are facing each other and pin them together like a shark fin sticking up. trim some of this excess, keeping the pieces pinned together.
22. Sew the lined up edges of the bag front and the side pieces together to create the bottom of the bag.
23. Flip your piece so the fabric is on the inside and the interfacing is facing out. Pin the bag back to the sides and the zipper, matching what you did with the bag front. Stitch them together.
24. Turn your piece right side out. You should have what looks like a lunch bag by now.
25. You should also have two remaining 2-inch strips. Turn under the edges on these strips and press them. Trim them lengthwise to measure 10”.
26. Pin the short edges of the 10” strips to the bag lining side, your remaining 3-inch strips, with the right sides of the fabric facing each other. The two 10-inch strips should have a space between them so make sure you pin them by matching up their outer edge with the outer edge of the side lining. The resulting space between the 10” will be the zipper lining.
27. Stitch the pinned zipper lining and bag lining sides together.
28. Pin the zipper lining to the front bag lining — one of your remaining 9-inch squares. As always, pin with the right sides of the fabric facing each other. Stitch these together.
29. Fold and pin the bag lining sides as you did before, first folding to create a triangle, then folding the side back to match up the edges with the bag front.
30. Stitch the edges of the bag lining side and the bag lining front.
31. Fold and pin the bag lining sides along the bottom of the bag lining front piece as you did with the outer bag pieces. You will again meet the bottom edges of the side pieces together, pin, then trim. You should have the edges of the side pieces matching up with the bottom edge of the bag lining front. Stitch the bottom pieces together.
32. Pin the bag lining back to the bag lining sides with the right sides of the fabric facing each other and stitch together.
33. Place your completed lining into the bag with the right side of the fabric facing in and the wrong side of the fabric touching the inner interfacing of your bag.
34. Pin the lining to the zipper and hand stitch the two together.
35. Make yourself a delicious lunch for the day because now you have a way to keep it fresh until that break comes.