Thursday, August 14, 2014

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag Tutorial

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag Tutorial |

I am not opposed to using plastic Ziploc bags, I just like to minimize the use of disposable plastic where I can.  On any average school day, I send my kids to school with up to three sandwich bags each, not including any pre-packaged snacks. I have seen reusable sandwich/snack bags here and there, but they are either way too pricey or they don't have a sturdy plastic lining.  Lunches make messes and a regular fabric wrap isn't going to do a very good job of containing a smooshed PB&J.  So I set out to create my own reusable fabric sandwich bags.  

As I was searching for laminated cotton fabric online to make some reusable fabric sandwich bags, I ran across iron-on vinyl.  Whoa.  In my mind this could be a total game changer.  You see, laminated cotton fabric, although awesome, can run upwards of $15/yard.  It was hard for me to justify spending that much money for a sandwich bag that my kids would wreck/lose/throw away.  Iron-on vinyl seemed like a perfect solution.  Not only was it less expensive, I could apply it to any scrap of fabric I had in my stash.  A cheap mom lifesaver.  

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag Tutorial |

So I gave the iron-on vinyl a go.  These reusable fabric sandwich bags were super easy to make.  Once I got all of my supplies together and got into a groove, I whipped up a bunch of bags in no time.  Using a variety of fabric scraps and fat quarters that I found in my sewing drawer, I made bags that everyone in the whole family can use/lose. 

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag Tutorial

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag supplies |
To make a reusable fabric sandwich bag you will need:

That's pretty much it.  If you have a rotary cutter and a long ruler thingy, it will make things go a bit quicker, but neither are necessary.  

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag fabric |
Start by cutting two 17" x 7.75" pieces of fabric.  One of these will be the outside of the bag, the other will be the vinyl-lined liner. 

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag vinyl lining |
Trim a 16.5" x 7.25" piece of Heat-n-Bond iron-on vinyl

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag with Heat-n-Bond vinyl lining |
Peel the paper backing off of the vinyl and iron it to the right side of your liner fabric.  

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag with vinyl lining |
Double check for schmutz before you place the vinyl on your fabric.  I failed to do this initially and ended up having to pry little threads/cat hairs/bugs off of the sticky vinyl.  Not fun.  Once your vinyl is ironed on, threads/cat hairs/bugs will become a permanent part of your lunch bag.

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag iron-on vinyl lining |
Iron on the vinyl according to the manufacturer's directions.  THRIFTY TIP: Use a piece of regular ol' baker's parchment paper as a non-stick barrier between the vinyl and the iron.  

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag sew with right sides together |
With right sides together, pin your fabric layers together and stitch with a 3/8" seam allowance.  TIP: Sew the layers together with the vinyl lined fabric on the top.  This will help keep your layers from sliding around too much.

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag leave a small opening |
Be sure to leave a 2"-3" gap when you stitch so you have room to turn your bag right side out.

Snip excess fabric from the corners of the bag to eliminate excess bulk when you turn your bag right side out.

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag iron out wrinkles |
Yikes!  Your bag will look terribly wrinkly after you turn it right side out.  Never fear!  Use your trusty parchment paper and press both sides of the bag with an iron.  OCD crisis averted.  Whew!

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag sew in Velcro |
Sew a 2" piece of Velcro to the top flap and inside of the bag.  The top piece of Velcro is about 1/2" from the top of the bag, and the bottom piece of Velcro is placed about 1" from the edge.  You can customize the size of your bag by varying the length of the flap.  The flaps on my bags are about 2.5" long

Top stitch the inside flap of the bag before you sew the sides of the bag together.  This isn't absolutely necessary, but adds a nice detail.  

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag Tutorial |
Pin your bag together and sew all the way around leaving about 1/4" seam allowance. 

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag Tutorial |
Fill the bags with sandwiches, crackers, grapes, and any other yummy lunch box goodies.  Oh, and remind the kids not to throw them away with the rest of their lunch.  

(NOTE: The Heat-n-Bond iron-on vinyl is washable in cold water and can be air-dried, however I have yet to wash and dry these bags.)

Reusable Fabric Sandwich Bag

Here are the sandwich bag instructions all summed up: 

  1. Cut two 17" x 7.75" pieces of fabric.
  2. Cut a 16.5" x 7.25" piece of Heat-n-Bond iron-on vinyl and iron on to the right side of the liner fabric.
  3. Sew fabric pieces with right sides together, leaving a small hole to turn the bag right side out. 
  4. Iron bag and sew in Velcro
  5. Top stitch inside edge and sew sides of bag together.  

Vinyl Lined Fabric Sandwich Bag Tutorial |

Happy lunch making!


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  1. Hey, Amanda, these are genius and can be made with whatever fabric each person you make them for loves!! What a fun project- I am not a great sewer but I think I found what I am making my son with that Marvels Avengers fabric I bought a remnant of!! Great Idea and excellent how-to tips and pics!!!

  2. Love this project, Amanda! If only the sewing machine didn't scare me so much, ha!

  3. These are adorable! do they wash and dry well?


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