Sew a Reusable Lunch Bag With Laminated Fabric

Pack a Lunch in This DIY Easy-Clean Bag

How to Sew a Lunch Bag
Mollie Johanson

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!

Materials

  • 1/4 yard each of two fabrics (fat quarters work great!)
  • 1-1/4 yards of fabric laminating material (such as Pellon Vinyl Fuse)
  • 2 hammer-on snaps
  • Scissors
  • Rotary cutter, ruler, and cutting mat
  • Iron
  • Pinking shears or scallop shears
  • Hammer
  • Sewing clips (such as Clover Wonder Clips)
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine 

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

Prepare the Fabric and Laminating Pieces

Applying Fabric Laminating Film
Mollie Johanson

Laminating fabric adds a vinyl coating to your favorite fabrics. The fabric becomes waterproof and 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 they require.

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. Prints and lighter colors help hide these things.

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. 

Cut the Fabric and Laminating Pieces

  • Cut two 7.5" x 12.5" front/back pieces of fabric 
  • Cut four 7.5" x 12.5" front/back pieces of laminating material
  • Cut two 5" x 12.5" side pieces of fabric 
  • Cut four 5" x 12.5" side pieces of laminating material
  • Cut one 5" x 7.5" bottom piece of fabric 
  • Cut two 5" x 7.5" bottom pieces of laminating material

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

Fuse the Laminating Material to the Fabric

Ironing the Lamination to Fabric
Mollie Johanson

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.

Laminating both sides isn't essential, but it keeps your bag protected inside and out. 

Cut the Sides and Bottom

Cutting the Lunch Bag Pieces
Mollie Johanson

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

  • Cut two 7" x 12" front/back pieces 
  • Cut two 4.5" x 12" side pieces 
  • Cut one 4.5" x 7" bottom piece 

Trim the Top of the Bag Pieces

Adding a Shaped Edge
Mollie Johanson

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.

Attach Snaps to the Front and Back Panels

Attaching Snaps to the Bag Panels
Mollie Johanson

To make your bag stay "rolled" or folded closed, add two snaps.

On the front panel, attach one half of each snap 1-3/4" in from the sides and 3-1/2" down from the top.

On the back panel, attach the other half of each snap 1-3/4" in from the sides and 3/4" 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.

Hold the Pieces With Sewing Clips

Using Sewing Clips Instead of Pins
Mollie Johanson

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" from the edge, sew these two pieces together with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Stop 1/4" from the end. ​​Lock stitch at the beginning and end of each seam.

Repeat this with the back piece.

Sew the Sides to the Bottom

Sewing the Sides to the Bottom
Mollie Johanson

Sew the sides to the bottom, once again starting and ending 1/4" from the edge.  

Check to make sure that the seams all match up at the corners.

Sew the Lunch Bag Side Seams

Sewing the Side Seams
Mollie Johanson

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.

Enjoy a Healthy Packed Lunch in Style!

Finished Reusable Lunch Bag
Mollie Johanson

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!