For the longest time, I brought my lunch to work in a plastic grocery sack. LAME. If only I'd known it was so easy to make my own awesome lunch bag, I could have had a little moment of joy as I chowed down on my Ramen noodles and leftovers. SIGH. OH WELL.
Here's what you'll need for this super easy project:
- Two different pieces of scrap fabric (you'll be cutting 24" x 12" pieces out of each, so make sure you have more than that) - make sure at least one of them is relatively stiff (like duck or canvas)
- Four pieces of Velcro roughly 1" x 1" (and by four I mean two male and two female Velcro pieces)
- Fabric glue (I like E6000's FabriFuse, but you can use whatever you want - you can also just sew instead of gluing if you prefer)
- Not pictured: ruler, sewing machine
Let's get started!
Step 1: Cut and Sew
Fold your outer fabric in half - this is the heavier-weight fabric I mentioned. Measure up from the fold 12", then 12" across from that point. Cut out the 12" square, with the fold at the bottom. If you open it up, you should have a piece that measures 24" long by 12" wide. Do the same for your lining fabric. Wherever possible, cut along the grain and use woven fabric for both - if you use a stretch fabric, make sure it's the one that goes on the inside to prevent weird bunching and sewing problems.
Unfold each piece of fabric and refold with right sides together, and sew up each side to make a bag with the top open. Be sure to BACKSTITCH LIBERALLY at the beginning and end of every seam you sew in this project, because lunch bags take quite a beating and you'll want to adequately prepare it for that.
You should now have two bag shapes. On to the next step...
Step 2: Box the Bottom
Take your outer bag, stick your hand into one of the bottom corners, and kind of "floof" it upwards. Then turn the bag and lay the corner out flat - you should now have a triangle with your side seam sitting on top. Sew a line straight across the triangular corner about two inches down (or enough to essentially make an equilateral triangle at the corner of your bag).
Sew across that line and trim the excess triangle piece away. Now you should have a bag with a boxed bottom.
Repeat the above for the lining.
Step 3: Finish the Top Edge
With your outer fabric right sides OUT and your lining fabric right sides IN, slip your lining into your outer bag and use your fingers to make sure that the boxed-corners are lined up with each other. If you cut carefully in step 1, the bags should line up almost perfectly at the top, but if they don't, don't worry. Just trim away any excess after making sure the lining is sitting squarely inside the outer bag.
Create a rolled hem at the top by folding BOTH the outer and lining fabrics down towards the inside of the bag by about 1/2". Then fold the whole thing down another 1/2". Do this all the way around the bag, pinning as you go. The pinning might look kind of wonky, but once you sew it down it should be pretty straight.
When you sew, sew closely to the bottom folded edge of the hem - if your top edges were at all uneven, this will make sure that you catch every bit and no raw edges will come sneaking out.
You now should have a bag! Congratulations! Now let's get some closure...
Step 4: Create Your Handle
Take a piece of your outer fabric (or your lining fabric if you want to live dangerously) and cut a rectangle about 11" x 4.5". Fold it in half longways, with right sides together. Take it to your sewing machine and stitch along one long end and one short end, in an L-shape. You should now have a long skinny tube with one end open. Turn the tube right side out using a turning tool, drumstick, chopstick, knitting needle, #2 pencil, whatever. Then fold in the raw edges of the remaining short side and sew shut. Iron the handle if you want, but I only iron when I absolutely have to, so you can skip that part. Fold the handle in half and sew the two short ends together so you have a loop as pictured.
Use fabric glue to attach to one side of your bag, leaving about 3" of the handle overhanging the top edge of the bag. Let the glue dry for several hours. If you don't want to glue, then you can just hand-stitch it on with strong thread and a sharp needle.
Please ignore the placement of the Velcro in the above picture, I had an idea but it didn't work out. :)
Step 5: Sew Your Velcro
Take your four pieces of Velcro and figure out where you want to place them. Obviously, the males should go on one side and the females should go on the other, and the males and females should meet up when the bag is closed. Mark the places you want them to go with a pencil, then sew the Velcro down. NOTE: You can also glue the Velcro, but my Velcro was old and the glue didn't stick to the back, so I had to sew it. If you sew, be sure to sew all the way around all four edges of the Velcro. This is possibly the part that's going to take the heaviest beating, so don't skimp on strength here.
Step 6: And You're Done!
Now you should have a durable, hearty, and customized lunch bag for all your lunching needs. I made this one for my daughter and she carries a pretty hefty lunch to school every day. She's a 5th grader so this bag takes a LOT of crap from her. But so far it's holding up really well, and best of all, she loves it.
Variations: You can certainly make this bag whatever size you want - the 12" x 12" suggestion is only that: a suggestion. If you have a certain plastic container that you often bring to work or school, you can feel free to resize this pattern to fit that container. Additionally, if you want a little more insulation, you can use interfacing or even quilt batting in between your layers.