Sew a Reusable Lunch Bag With Laminated Fabric

How to Sew a Lunch Bag
Mollie Johanson
Overview
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Ditch the paper bag and pack your sandwich in a DIY lunch bag. Not only is it eco-friendly, but it's also easy to wipe clean when you make your own laminated fabric. With contrasting sides and a folding top that snaps in place, homemade lunches never looked so stylish.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Scissors
  • Rotary cutter
  • Ruler
  • Cutting map
  • Iron
  • Pinking shears or scallop shears
  • Hammer
  • Sewing clips (such as Clover Wonder Clips)
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine

Materials

  • 1/4 yard Two types of fabric
  • 1 1/4 yard Fabric laminating material (such as Pellon Vinyl Fuse)
  • 2 Hammer-on snaps

Instructions

Prepare the Fabric and Laminating Pieces

Laminating fabric adds a vinyl coating to your favorite fabrics. The fabric becomes waterproof and is simple to wipe clean. It's easy to add the coating, but the process does have a few quirks.

First, always read through all the manufacturer's instructions for any specifics required. Be aware that sometimes the coating can get a little cloudy, which is more likely to show up on darker fabrics. You may also see irregularities on solid colors, as prints help hide these flaws. Working in smaller sections is often easier than trying to laminate an entire cut of fabric. Finally, the vinyl shrinks slightly when it heats and fuses to the fabric. Cut a larger piece than you need to ensure that the fabric is fully covered. 

Applying Fabric Laminating Film
Mollie Johanson

Tip

If you want to skip the step of laminating your own fabric, use an oilcloth for an easy-clean substitute.

  1. Cut the Fabric and Laminating Pieces

    Next, cut out the fabric and laminating pieces into:

    • Two 7.5- x 12.5-inch front/back pieces of fabric 
    • Four 7.5- x 12.5-inch front/back pieces of laminating material
    • Two 5- x 12.5-inch side pieces of fabric 
    • Four 5- x 12.5-inch side pieces of laminating material
    • One 5- x 7.5-inch bottom piece of fabric 
    • Two 5- x 7.5-inch bottom pieces of laminating material

    Peel off the paper backing from a laminating piece and place it on the matching piece of fabric. 

  2. Fuse the Laminating Material to the Fabric

    Follow the manufacturer's instructions for ironing the laminating material. Repeat this process on all of the fabric pieces. Once the fronts are done, add the vinyl coating to the back of the fabric as well. Although laminating both sides isn't essential, but it keeps your bag protected inside and out. 

    Ironing the Lamination to Fabric
    Mollie Johanson
  3. Cut the Sides and Bottom

    Use a rotary cutter, quilting ruler, and cutting mat to cut the pieces down to their final sizes:

    • Two 7- x 12-inch front/back pieces 
    • Two 4.5- x 12-inch side pieces 
    • One 4.5- x 7-inch bottom piece 
    Cutting the Lunch Bag Pieces
    Mollie Johanson
  4. Trim the Top of the Bag Pieces

    Use pinking shears or other shaped fabric scissors to trim the top edge of the front, back, and side pieces. This step is optional, but it's a cute decorative element when the bag is open.

    Adding a Shaped Edge
    Mollie Johanson
  5. Attach Snaps to the Front and Back Panels

    To make your bag stay folded closed, add two snaps. On the front panel, attach one half of each snap 1 3/4 inches in from the sides and 3 1/2 inch down from the top. On the back panel, attach the other half of each snap 1 3/4 inches in from the sides and 3/4 inch down from the top. Add a small piece of fabric or felt to the back of the fabric if you want to reinforce the snaps.

    Attaching Snaps to the Bag Panels
    Mollie Johanson
  6. Hold the Pieces With Sewing Clips

    When sewing with vinyl or laminated fabric, use sewing clips instead of pins. Once you make a hole in this fabric, there's no going back. It's best to keep the material intact. Clip the front and bottom together with right sides facing. Set your stitch length longer than usual to avoid over-perforating the material. Starting 1/4 inch from the edge, sew these two pieces together with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Stop 1/4 inch from the end. ​​Lock stitch at the beginning and end of each seam. Repeat this with the back piece.

    Using Sewing Clips Instead of Pins
    Mollie Johanson
  7. Sew the Sides to the Bottom

    Sew the sides to the bottom, once again starting and ending 1/4 inch from the edge. Check to make sure that the seams all match up at the corners.

    Sewing the Sides to the Bottom
    Mollie Johanson
  8. Sew the Lunch Bag Side Seams

    Bring the sides together and sew up each of the four corners. Turn the lunch bag right side out. Because the fabric is very stiff, this may be a little tricky. The fabric itself is durable, so just take care not to tug at the seams.

    Sewing the Side Seams
    Mollie Johanson
  9. Enjoy a Healthy Packed Lunch in Style!

    Fill your new lunch bag with your favorite sandwich, fruit, and a snack. Fold the top over two times to secure the snaps, and you're ready to go!

    Finished Reusable Lunch Bag
    Mollie Johanson