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While a lot of attention has been given to single-use plastic grocery bags in recent years, little zip-lock bags share all of the same problems that shopping bags do: almost always used once and thrown away, rarely recycled, petroleum based, non-biodegradable, plastic bags make up the majority of ocean pollution.

On the other hand, its a good idea to bring your own lunch, which saves a lot of money over eating out every day.
Its easy to find a cloth bag, mini-cooler, or lunch box to carry the complete meal in, but you still need something to keep your sandwich from falling apart inside your lunch box.

You could wash out and reuse the same ziplock bag over and over, but they aren't easy to wash or dry, and they aren't that durable.

A few companies are selling reusable sandwich holders, but they cost $10 or more.

You can make your own for free in just a few minutes!



Materials needed:
 
-a big piece of paper (an unfolded paper bag works)
-a 16" x 16" (or bigger) piece of strong plastic film
-a 16" x 16" (or bigger) piece of cloth
-pencil or pen and chalk or marker
-pins
-a sewing machine or needle and thread
-velcro (could substitute a snap, button, or other fastener)
-a sandwich

Step 1: Cut the Pattern

You can just cut it out freehand, but if you want it to look nice, make yourself a pattern first.

Find something circular that is between about 14 and 16" in diameter (that will cover most normal sized sandwiches)

Use that to trace a perfect circle onto a piece of paper.  An unfolded brown paper shopping bag is wide enough for this.

You may want to make a sandwich, and actually try folding it up inside your circle, to make sure it is the right size.

Cut out the paper circle

Step 2: Find Some Cloth Fabric, As Well As Some Plastic Fabric

Pretty much any strong, thick flexible plastic film, and any cloth will do.

The plastic layer keeps the cloth clean and dry, while the cloth reinforces and strengthens the plastic.

Some sources we found for the plastic include a nylon costume, a bag that once contained a comforter, and a roll of plastic sheeting.  You could use the fabric from an old backpack, or vinyl hot pants, or whatever else you can find, as long as it is waterproof and strong enough to last.

The cloth we used is old sheets, torn clothing, and misc scraps from who knows where.

Use the pattern you made in the last step to trace the circle onto both the cloth and the plastic layers, using chalk if you have it, or a marker if you don't.


Step 3: Cut and Pin Layers

The title of this step is pretty self-explanatory

Cut out the circles you traced, on both the cloth and the plastic.
Then line them up, and pin them together

If the fabric has a pretty side, turn it to the inside of the two layers when you pin them.  In other words, turn any seems or duller side outward, so you can see them.  If both layers have a pretty side and an ugly side, turn the two pretty sides toward each other. 
They will get flipped around later.

If you are going to use a sewing machine, put the pins on the plastic side, so that you can sew with the cloth side down.
The machine will be able to grab the cloth better, and it will be less slippery on the machine and table.  Then you will be able to remove the pins easily as you go.

Step 4: Sew Layers Together

If you are using a sewing machine, have the cloth side down (the pins should be on top)
If you are sewing by hand, it doesn't matter which way is up

Either way, ensure the pretty side of each layer is facing inwards, and any markings or dull sides facing out.


Sew about 95% of the way around the outside edge of the circle, leaving a 2-4" gap of area unsewn.

If there is more than an inch of excess fabric past the seam, you may want to trim it back, just so the final product isn't lumpy.


Use the gap of unsewn area to pull the pretty side of the fabric out, thereby turning it right-side-out;
This way the seams from sewing are hidden on the inside

(try turning a sock or pillow case inside out, look at the seam, and flip it back, if that's hard to understand)

Step 5: Final Steps

Sew up the small gap left behind from the last step.
Tuck the edges in first so it looks nice, and matches the rest.  The seam will be visible in this little part, but thats ok, because its just a little part :)


Finally sew on a fastener.  You could use a button or a snap, but velcro is the easiest and most convenient to use.  If you are lazy, you could even use a safety pin.


Warning: don't try to sew on velcro with a sewing machine, unless you know for sure the machine and needle can handle it


One fastener goes on the inside (plastic layer), and the other goes on the outside (cloth layer), on opposite sides near the outer edge
In order to get the placement just right, make an actual sandwich, place it in the middle, and fold up the holder.  Mark the center of where the top and bottom flaps overlap, and attach the fastener there.

Step 6: Done!

Your new sandwich holder is multi-purpose!

You can use it in place of a plate to make the sandwich on
You can use it in place of a plastic bag to keep the sandwich together in your lunch bag
And you can use it as a place mat when you are ready to eat!!

Now you have less waste, and less dishes to wash to boot!!!


Special tanks to Jessica Bates for the inspiration, instructions, advice, and hand modeling for this instructable
need more info for that semmich! :D <br> <br>Great idea :)

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Bio: I am an ordinary guy. Except that I live in an RV, drive a 250cc motorcycle, have a truck that runs on bio-diesel, am vegetarian ... More »
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