Make a fabric lunch bag

Have a good time and help the planet

What’s fun to make, handy to use, kid-friendly, and easy on the environment? A one-of-a-kind, reusable, washable, fabric lunch bag!

These instructions will show you how to sew and decorate one—a fun activity you and your kids can do together. Kids will enjoy helping to pick out fabric, do some measuring and marking, and, depending on their age, they can help with the stitching, especially zigzagging. They’ll have fun decorating the bag as well.

Be sure to make a few lunch bags—you’ll need one too. And when you pack it with reusable containers, you’ll have a litterless lunch every day. As you sew this bag together, it is a good idea to stitch over each seam twice for extra durability. After all, if it is going be tossed into a backpack, thrown into the fridge, or forgotten for a few days in the bottom of a locker, it needs to be tough!

You will need:

  • a pre-washed and pressed, sturdy piece of fabric such as denim or heavy cotton, 40 cm x 60 cm (16 in. x 24 in.)
  • straight pins
  • thread to match your fabric
  • a ruler
  • a pencil or fabric marker
  • a strip of hook-and-loop closure (such as Velcro), about 10 cm (4 in.) long

Instructions

1. Use a zigzag stitch (or pinking shears) all around your piece of fabric to prevent it from fraying.

2. Fold the fabric in half, good sides together, so that the shorter ends line up. Pin, then stitch, this end leaving a 1 cm (½ in.) seam allowance. Remove the pins as you sew.

3. Position the fabric so that the seam is down the centre. Press the seam open.

4.Decide which will be the bottom of your lunch bag. Pin, then stitch the bottom closed, again using a 1 cm (½ in.) seam allowance.

5. With the bag still inside out, position it so that the open end is closest to you. Shift the centre seam so that it is now on the left side. Adjust and smooth the closed end of the bag until it is in a diamond shape. Press the diamond shape flat.

6. Using a ruler and pencil or fabric marker, draw a line straight across the top of the diamond shape, about 6 cm (2 ½ in.) down from the tip. Mark a line the same distance from the point at the bottom of the diamond shape. Stitch along both lines. Your lunch bag will now have a square bottom.

7. To finish the open end of your lunch bag, fold over the top edge about 2.5 cm (1 in.) so that the wrong sides are together. Pin or press this hem in place, then stitch close to the raw edge all around the opening. (For a nicer finish, you can fold over and press about 1 cm (½ in.) at the top edge before folding it over a second time.) Press the top of the bag.

8. Turn the bag right side out and place it in front of you so that the seam is centred. This is the back of the bag. Centre, pin and stitch the loop (soft) part of the closure along the top of this back edge.

9. Turn the bag over and centre, pin, then stitch, the hook part of the closure 8 to 10 cm (3 to 4 in.) down from the top edge of the front of the bag. (This sewing can be a little awkward so be sure you are only stitching through one layer of fabric.) When you close the lunch bag, tuck in the sides of the bag and fold down the top twice so that both parts of the hook-and-loop closure meet.

10. To decorate your lunch bag, you can use fabric markers or dimensional fabric paint to draw on swirls, stars, hearts or other designs, or you can paint on words such as “lunch!” or “yummy”. You can also decorate with appliqué, or sew on rickrack, ribbon or other trims. It is best to avoid putting names on the outside of the bag, but it’s a good idea to use a fabric or permanent marker to write your child’s name on the inside. You won’t want to lose this new lunch bag!