Introduction: Lunch Box From a Pizza Box

About: I am married with two children. Spring, summer, and fall are my very favorite times of the year. I enjoy working in the yard, sewing, cooking, quilting, gardening, and creating. I do this to keep my sanity.
Several months ago I was reading an article about recycling and decided to try and re-use things that could not be recycled. One thing that really surprised me was to learn that pizza boxes were on the list.  So I decided to cover a pizza box, but I must admit for the past several months I have been stumped about this.  Now that I am writing an article about pizza boxes; I decided to find out why they can't be recycled. My box is sitting pretty in my kitchen as I write this article.  It happens to be the food particles left on the boxes, plates and napkins that are the problem; not the boxes themselves.  

Well, at least I saved the boxes from being recycled and saved energy resources!  This box is not entirely green friendly, but they will last a long time unless something unexpected happens to them.  Meanwhile many lunches will be served using them and they will be great conversation pieces sitting on the picnic table.  I also use them for my sewing scraps.  The ones that don't get the pretty little cover are used for storing sewing crafts,  and fabric scraps,  which by the way will help me stay organized when I move them into my new sewing room after the shop gets built! The boxes shown are at least 8 years old.  We rarely go out to eat; so I don't get very many.  I shop mostly all the outside isles of the grocery store because I cook from scratch.  

Recycling holds true to all paper products if they have food residue on them.  Even if the box has the label that says it can be recycled.  Grease forms in top of the slurry and the fibers can't separate from the oils in the pulping process.  The binding of the paper is weakened from the contamination; causing poor quality of paper.  Now get this . . . . For all of those folks who sneak in the boxes . . . . guess what?  It contaminates the entire batch!  All goes to the land field.  The good news is the boxes can be put into the compost pile.  

There you have it.  For the full article : Now let me show you how to save a pizza box from the land field ; if it is a soiled pizza box.  Please visualize a soiled box in the picture;  that will make it easier to follow through and keep you focused.

Let's make a lunch box. 


Step 1: Materials

This is what I used on my box but a stencil and paints would be cute also.  

1 Pizza box
1 scrap piece vinyl table cloth.
Matching thread with sewing needle.
2 1/2 Yards ribbon.
1 Button.
1 Silk flower.
Plastic silverware optional.

I used a Domino's pizza (chicken box) and a vinyl table cloth scrap because I wanted it to be somewhat washable. I recommend using a medium quality cloth.  If it is too thick or too thin it won't be easy to work with.  I buy mine at Walmart for around 5 dollars and when I replace the cloth  I save the old one for my crafts.   The dollar store quality is pretty thin. Contact paper would work awesome with this box and it is washable.  It would be a lot less time as well.  No sewing.  I wanted this project to be re-use and felt the table cloth was a better choice but it was more difficult to work with.  

Step 2: Tools

Two sided tape is a dream to work with for a craft like this but probably is not green friendly.  I have never used it until recently and I love it!  

Two sided tape
Sewing pins
Sewing needle 
Glue if you want to glue it together instead of sewing it.


Step 3: Measuring and Cutting the Box Pattern

I have not tried to do this before and after making this one; I will do a prototype before using my choice fabric.  Sewing the vinyl is a little tricky.  That is why I hand sewed this one.  I made 2 before this one to figure out the pattern.  The boxes that are best have fewer odd shaped corners.  

Fold the table cloth in half and cut one piece approx 20 X 20. You should have 2 pieces the same size.
Open the box so it is flat.
lay the box over the cut vinyl cloths.
Place a heavy object on top to hold it in place.
Using the marker (mark)  the end of the box that has the most shapes and don't outline it;  cut it 3 inches longer marking a straight edge across  for the cutting line. 
Using the marker outline the shape of the remaining edges of the box. 
Remove the box from the cloth.
Using the ruler mark an outside edge 1/4 inch larger than the original mark. This will be the cutting line.
Cut out the outside line remembering to leave the one end longer than the rest of the box and cut straight instead of following the shape of the box end.

Step 4: Pocket

I made an inside pocket but this can be omitted.
Measure and cut one pocket piece on the fold of the vinyl cloth 5" X 6" the fold will be the top of the pocket.
Turn under 3/4" hem on three sides and tape or glue to secure.
Tie a ribbon around it like the picture.
Pin or tape it to the box lid to secure it. The bottom of the pocket is just at the fold of the box.
Hand sew or glue to the lid;  leaving the ribbon area open so it may be re-moved for cleaning as needed.  


Step 5: Sewing the Liner

With right sides together pin the 2 pieces together.
Sew 1/4 seam allowance on 3 sides leaving an opening at the end like a pillow case.
Clip the corners.
Turn right side out.
Work the fabric with your fingers so the seam is along  on the edge of the box.

Step 6: Inserting the Box

Slightly bend the box so the flaps will slip into the box without catching on the sides.
Work the liner up to the end of the box.
Adjust the seam along the edge using your fingers.
Fold down the side flaps.
Straighten out the wrinkles and smooth the fabric.

Step 7: Finishing the End

​If you are happy with the results.
Trim the end straight across leaving two inches to work with.
Carefully cut the angles as you go so you have plenty of fabric to turn under for a 1/4" hem.
Tape into place forming the shape as you go.
I found taping it under was a great help,  just one or two strips is all you need.
Repeat clipping  and taping along the shaped edge pulling the fabric smooth until the end is turned under.
Next  hand sew or glue the hem.

This part was a little more difficult so that is why I suggested a prototype.  Because I was hand sewing; I allowed a tiny bit of room at the end so I could sew without stitching the box.  


Step 8: Lid Closure

Cut a slit for the lid to tuck into on the front of the box.

After cutting the slit; I did not like the looks of the box lid slit where the lid of the box tucks into the front edge of the box.
So I covered it with some scrap fabric to finish the edge. 
Cut 4 vinyl pieces 

Step 9: Embellishments

Next embellish the box with the flower, button, and the ribbon by gluing or sewing. 

Step 10: Sunshiine's Final Thoughts

My mother has always been the inspiration behind all my creative talents.  She was a maker and made all of her crafts from used items. I made this project for a Copy cat contest.  I wanted to take apart  (box) an item and remake it using all the original parts adding  fabric and embellishments, and reassemble it.  I have had a lot of fun making this box. I will be posting more versions using different things and can't wait to start them.  I hope this instructable has inspired you to recycle used pizza boxes and pack a lunch in your lovely box and go on a nice picnic.

In closing I would like to thank our instructables company, sponsors, authors, readers, and members; for making this community a great success! Many hours and hard work has been put into making this place the best DIY on the Internet. Have fun and thanks for stopping by!
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