Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sewing Project: Foldable Lunch Sack

So after I finished the last blog entry, I was feeling all ready for school. Then, as I was setting up both boys' backpacks I had a "doh",  forehead smacking moment-- the super cute fire truck lunch box I had gotten for my preschooler didn't actually fit in his tiny preschool backpack. Oops!!  His backpack is a cute hand-me-down from brother that has Elmo and is sized just perfectly for preschool-- it will just fit his snack and his spare set of clothes. Unfortunately the full size lunch box was just too much for it!

Last year, he started part way through the school year and I never got around to getting him an "official" lunch box. Since he only takes a snack at school, we don't need anything really big, so we mostly were using a cheapy sack that I think had originally come in a Subway kids meal. I really wanted him to have something a little better this year (and something new too, since his backpack wasn't being replaced). Since the new lunch box was a bust, I decided I'd just whip something up. As I wasn't working through anyone else's tutorial or pattern, I had a bit of trial and error here but I think, in the end, it worked out pretty well!

I opted to use a Sesame themed fabric (to go with the backpack) but obviously you could pick anything here--- simple solids or fun checks, or how about the popular chevrons? The fabric stores (even in Wal-Mart) also have plenty of branded fabrics featuring other popular characters (Dora, Mickey, etc) as well as professional sports teams.  You could also go super feminine for yourself -- if I needed a lunch sack, I'd do one in a lovely floral with pink trim.

Sewing Tutorial: Foldable Lunch Sack

Materials List:

1/2 yard main body fabric (this is more than you'll need but will allow for pattern matching-- if you go for a solid, you'll only need 1/4 yard)

1/4 yard nylon (basic windbreaker type material-- any color, I used white-- this helps to increase the water/moisture resistance of the fabric and makes it possible to wipe up many spills with a damp cloth)

1/4 yard stiff, iron on (fusible) interfacing (I have a super craft weight that I love)

1 package of single fold bias tape (4yd & 1/2 in wide) in coordinating color

matching thread

5" of hook and loop tape (velcro) -- sew-in style NOT adhesive!!!

Equipment: basic sewing machine, iron


1) From your main fabric, cut 2 pieces 7" x 11" (piece A) & 2 pieces 5"x 9" (piece B), the short sides are the top & bottom, so make sure to be aware of patterns and directionality!!  Also cut 1 piece 4 1/2 x 7 (piece C) -- the long sides are the top & bottom for that one.

2) Cut 2 pieces 7" x 11" ,  2 pieces 5" x 9" and one piece 4 1/2" x 7" out of your nylon.

3) Cut 2 pieces 7" x 11" out of interfacing.

4) Following the manufacturer's instructions, fuse your interfacing to the WRONG sides of your main body fabric (do not get your nylon anywhere near the iron or you will have a melty mess on your hands!!)

I know this shows a margin but after I finished, I found that it would be better with a full width of interfacing.

5) Line up one piece A of main fabric with its matching piece A of nylon, RIGHT sides together. Sew a seam with a 1/2" seam allowance across the TOP of the fabrics. Turn fabrics right ways out and use your fingers to press the seam. Top stitch across the top, approximately 1/4" inch from the top seam.  Repeat with 2nd set of A pieces.

I actually did the top stitching later on but it was a real pain to work around seams.
 So, even though you see pins here and elsewhere, go ahead and do the top stitching now.

6) Line up one piece B of main fabric with its matching piece B of nylon, RIGHT sides together-- repeat as above in step 5 for both pieces.

7) Take both finished piece A sets and turn so right fabrics are facing together, nylon to nylon and main fabric to main fabric. Sew a 1/2" seam for each end. This will make a kind of long tube. Turn right sides out and finger press.

8) From your bottom seam, measure out approx. 2 inches & mark with a pin on both sides. Gently crease along this line -- a ruler or straight edge of a table might help to keep it even.

9) Take one piece B set and line up the top seams with the front & back edges of your bag. Moving carefully, match up edges , with nylon meeting nylon/insides together. You may have little bits dangling at the bottom corners, don't worry about that right now! Just make sure that the fabrics are lined up as smoothly as possible, with no wrinkles or folds.

10) Stitch along this edge, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Go slowly and carefully and be sure to catch all layers of fabric. It will take some finessing along the bottom corners, just keep stopping and realigning as necessary. Be sure to reinforce the beginning and ending of this stitching by reversing!!

11) Repeat for other side.

12) Trim seam allowance to just under 1/4 inch.

13) We will make the top flap now-- Sew together the main fabric piece C with its matching nylon-- RIGHT sides together, both TOP and BOTTOM, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Turn fabric tube right side out and finger press both seams. Ensure that width of flap matches your bag width or is slightly wider.

14) To attach flap, line up top seam of flap with top seam of backside of bag. They will only overlap for approx. 1/4". Sew right down the middle of this overlap area to secure the flap. WATCH your patterns here --remember that the bag back and flap will be going in OPPOSITE directions. Double check before sewing or your flap will end up being upside down! Trim flap to match bag width.

Inside view of flap attachment. Trim after this.
Inside view of sack-- note all seams are finished!

15) Measure and cut enough bias tape to go from front edge of lunch sack around the bottom and up the back to the end of the flap TWICE + 2 " (approx. 24").  Cut in half.  Open the folds of one end on each piece. Keeping right sides together, line up tape (right side toward right side of fabric) with raw edge of side seam. Start at front edge of sack and go all the way to the end of the flap. Do this for both sides, making a sandwich.

16) Stitch along small fold closest to seam. Be sure to catch all the layers of the fabric!

17) At front edge of lunch sack, sew a small seam across cut edges of bias tape as close as possible to sack WITHOUT touching the sack. Trim to 1/4" inch.

18) Return bias tape to its natural fold. This should make an enclosure for the raw seam on the side of your sack. Pin together.

19) Repeat steps 15-18 for the other side.

20) Measure and cut enough bias tape to go around entire lower flap edge + 2" (approx. 16"). Open bias tape and sew a seam (right sides together) to make a loop that is the EXACT width of your flap. Trim seam to 1/4 inch. Place the unfolded loop with right sides in over the flap edge. Sew along small fold closest to edge. Be sure to reinforce beginning and ending stitches.
Forgot to take a picture, sorry! This is how to line up the new piece of bias tape (in grey, transparent here to see the bottom layers) in relation to the ends of the previous pieces. Stitch along black line. 

21) Return bias tape to its natural fold. This should enclose edge of flap + cut ends of bias tape from sides.

22) Top stitch 1/8" from edge around the entire sack to close up bias tape.

23) Close lunch sack and determine placement for hook and loop enclosure. Cut approx. 2 inches (or personal preference!) . Sew hook side onto flap and loop side onto sack. Pin and double check alignment before stitching! You can either sew a straight line 1/8" inside edge of tape OR zigzag the edges.

24) Open flap, fold bottom of lunch sack towards flap, fold over again. Mark placement of second piece of LOOP ONLY on new location (if you want it to be secured in the folded position!). Attach new piece of loop.

You are done! Marvel at your handiwork!

This should be completely washable but the more you run it through the machine, the softer the interfacing will become. Also, I wouldn't recommend drying it in the dryer as the nylon could be sensitive to excess heat! For the most part, the nylon should make it easy to wipe up/sponge off any spills. If you really need it to be fully washable/dryable, consider subbing in a cotton canvas material for the nylon. It will also provide a decent moisture barrier but isn't temperature fussy!

As an aside, this project cost me a sum total of $3.50!!  I bought the Sesame fabric for $2.50 (10 a yard @ .5 yards and a 50% off coupon at JoAnns and the bias tape for $1.99 and a 50% off coupon at JoAnns . The nylon and interfacing were leftovers from a previous project. If you are buying new, this will add about $2 to your total-- so expect to spend between $5-10 depending on coupon use, sales, etc.

As always, feel free to ask questions or comment on the project! If you like what you see, "like" us to add us to your Facebook feed!

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