The school year is starting, and for many of us it means packing lunches every day. Even on days with no school, we are constantly taking little snacks with us to the park or zoo or pool. This year I really wanted to pack my kids’ food using as many reusable bags and containers as possible, to reduce waste and save money. I decided to make each of my kids a set of reusable sandwich and snack bags, and today on the blog I will be sharing the pattern with you!
This tutorial will make three different sizes of reusable food bags- Snack, Mini Snack, and Sandwich. As a bonus, you will also find dimensions on the cut chart for using this tutorial to make a back-to-school pencil case! The cut chart will tell you what size of fabric to cut and what zipper length you need for each size, but the instructions will be the same no matter what size you are sewing. If you plan to make all the sizes, I found these super fast to make by batch sewing! As long as you don’t need to change thread color, repeat each step of the tutorial for all the sizes you are making before moving on to the next step. This will have you sewing complete sets lightning fast!
These little reusable food bags are a perfect scrap buster! Any one size can probably be made by using scraps you already have. If you purchase fabric, you can use a fat quarter, or a ¼ yard cut (a fat quarter or ¼ yard cut will be enough for more than one bag!).
For the outer/main fabric of all sizes, choose any woven fabric you like. I used 100% cotton, but you can also use canvas, linen, etc. I do recommend choosing a washable material for the food bags, since you will be hand washing or laundering frequently.
For the inner/lining fabric of the food bags, I recommend choosing a food-safe fabric. The pencil case can be lined with any woven fabric. For this tutorial, I used 100% cotton.
A special note on food-safe fabric (and a coupon code!):
When I began researching food safe fabric for these bags, I found that it was hard to find fabric that had actually been certified as food safe, until I found ProSoft FoodSAFE from Wazoodle.com. Wazoodle’s FoodSafe PUL undergoes rigorous testing and is certified as safe to use for foods. You can read all about the testing process here. I purchased it to use for this pattern because I wanted something I knew would be safe for my children’s reusable food bags, and I have been extremely happy with the results. The fabric is high quality, withstands laundering, and is easy to sew. Here is a quote from Wazoodle about their food safe fabrics:
“We originally set out to create a food safe fabric for food shelters, so they could safely transport and hand out food to those in need. But once we released this food-safe fabric in the market, we realized its potential went way beyond just food shelters. We started seeing all sorts of ways this fabric could be used in everyday life. Now, ProSoft FoodSAFE PUL is the number one choice in snack and lunch bags, bakery bags, bibs, table covers, and more. It’s even being used in hospitals and schools to create a safer environment for everyone.
As part of Wazoodle’s efforts to be as eco-friendly as possible, we make all our fabrics safely and ethically in collaboration with our sister company, AKAS Tex; and we’re completely transparent in our efforts to care for people, the planet and environment. We never use harmful dyes, toxic chemicals, or solvents, nor do we generate toxic waste or disposable trash during production. Plus, everything is made right here in the U.S. in controlled conditions in American textile mills, where we provide safe working conditions and enforce fair labor practices.”
I reached out to the folks at Wazoodle to let them know how happy I was with this product, and they were so generous as to offer a coupon code for Boo and Lu customers so that you all can try their wonderful product for this pattern too! Using this link, https://wazoodle.com/discount/booandlu , and coupon code BOOANDLU, you can receive $15 off your order of any of their FoodSAFE line. This is enough to receive an entire yard FREE for making these bags. I know you will be extremely happy with your purchase, as I have been! I highly recommend any of their products for your sewing needs.
These bags have a zipper closure. For all three food bag sizes, you will need a 7” zipper. For the pencil case, you will need a 9” zipper. Never sewn a zipper before? This is the perfect pattern to get started with! It is simple to do, and will grow your confidence in sewing a zipper. Alternatively, you could easily modify this pattern to use hook-and-loop tape for your closure, but I love zippers for reusable food bags because I know those crumbs will be fully contained!
|Measurements Are In Inches||MAIN (cut 2)LxW||LINING (cut 2)LxW|
|SNACK||6 x 8||6 x 8|
|MINI SNACK||4.5 x 8||4.5 x 8|
|SANDWICH||8 x 8||8 x 8|
|PENCIL||5 x 10||5 x 10|
All food bags: 7” zipper Pencil bag: 9” zipper
Use a ⅜” seam allowance unless where otherwise noted.
1. Place one of your outer pieces right side up. Then, lay your zipper right side down on top of it, matching the long edge of the zipper with the top raw edge of the outer piece. Your zipper may be longer than the edges of the fabric- that’s ok! It will be completely enclosed on both ends and you can trim excess later in the tutorial.
Next, lay one of your liner fabric pieces right side down over the zipper. You should now have a stack, with the zipper sandwiched between your main and liner fabric. Pin/clip in place along the top edge where all three pieces are aligned. Using a zipper foot, sew along this edge using a ¼” seam allowance.
Tip- when you approach the zipper pull, pause sewing, and gently tug the zipper pull past your presser foot before resuming.
2. Open the main and lining pieces away from the zipper.
3. Lay your other lining piece right side up. Place your unsewn zipper edge right side up over it, lining up the top raw edge of the lining piece to the long edge of the zipper. Then lay your other main piece right side down over the zipper. Pin/clip in place. The unsewn edge of the zipper should now be sandwiched between the top raw edges of your second main and lining pieces. From the bottom corner of this stack, the order should be- both lining pieces right sides together, then both main pieces right sides together. Sew along your pinned/clipped edge using a ¼” seam allowance.
4. Open the second main and lining piece away from the zipper. Press all the fabric pieces away from the zipper, then top stitch the seam along the zipper using a ⅛” seam allowance. You should have one main and one lining on each side of the zipper.
5. Open your zipper ¾ of the way. Do not forget this step or you won’t be able to turn it right side out later!
Flip one side of your main fabric over to be right sides together with your other main fabric. Do the same for your lining toward the opposite side, so that both main pieces are to one side of the zipper right sides together, and both lining pieces are on the other side of the zipper right sides together. Pin all the way around leaving a 3” opening at the bottom or side edge of the lining fabric (pictured is leaving the bottom edge open).
Important note- when you do this, make sure that the zipper teeth are pointing toward the lining fabric. This will make sure it lays smoothly when you flip it right side out! I find it easiest to pinch the zipper teeth together toward the lining fabric and pin/clip, and do the same for the other side, before pinning/clipping around the rest. I also use this moment to double check that I have pinned/clipped so that the seams of the main pieces are exactly aligned at the edges.
6. Sew around your pinned/clipped edges. Be very careful when sewing over the zipper that you do not put your needle down directly into the zipper teeth, especially if you are using a metal zipper. I like to use my handwheel to sew slow stitches over the zipper, to be sure not to hit the teeth.
7. Clip the seam allowance in the corners, being careful not to cut through your stitches. I also like to trim the seam allowance at the center sides where the zipper ends, to reduce bulk. If your zipper was longer than your fabric, this is when you would trim the excess. Again, be sure not to cut through stitches.
8. Turn bag right side out by pulling it through the opening you left in the lining. Use a turning tool or chopstick to gently poke the corners into nice points. Press the seam allowance of your liner opening in, and either hand stitch closed, or top stitch closed as close to the edge as you can get.
9. Push the liner down into the main, and once again use the turning tool or chopstick to get clean corners.
You now have a great little set of reusable food bags to pack lunches and snacks in! There are also so many other uses for these bags, depending on the lining material you choose. These bags can be used for diaper bag organizers, travel pouches, cosmetic bags, and more. You can also easily adjust the dimensions listed to customize your bags to exactly the size you need. If you make these bags, we would love to see! Share your sews with us in our Facebook group or tag us on Instagram at @booandlu so that we can admire your work.