Tutorial: Lunch Bag With Handles

Tuesday, August 17, 2010
My favorite lunch bag was a shopping bag that happened to be the perfect size. It fit a couple of glass lunch containers, folded up small when not being used, wasn't too bulky in my backpack, and I could find space for it in the shared office fridge. The only problem? It's not washable, so I set out to recreate the bag in heavy-weight cotton. Now I can toss it in the washing machine!

Lunch Sack with Handles

  • Two pieces: 13" by 6" (for the side panels)
  • One piece: 31" by 9" (for the main body)
  • Two pieces: 18" by 4"  (for the handles)
Make the handles
  1. Iron both 18" pieces of fabric in half lengthwise (see image 2).
  2. Open up the fabric and iron both sides of the fabric towards the middle fold (see image 3).
  3. Fold everything together so the ends are tucked up in the middle (see image 4).
  4. Sew close to the double edges to close the handle strap together.

  5. Make a zigzag stitch to close both ends.

Make the body of the bag 
  1. Line up one of the side panels face to face with one edge of the body panel.

  2. Sew from the short edge of the body panel down until you reach the edge of the side panel. Raise your presser foot with the needle still in the fabric, and turn the fabric 90 degrees.

  3. Continue sewing along the short edge of the side panel, matching it to the edge of the body panel. When you reach the next corner, raise the presser foot again, and turn the fabric 90 degrees. Continue sewing until you have sewn along three sides of the side panel. You should end up with something like this:

  4. Repeat for the second side panel.
  5. Turn the sack inside out, so that the good side of the fabric is visible.
  6. Pinch the corner, and sew along the edge, making sure that the raw edges of the fabric are hidden inside the seam (french seams). 

  7. Stitch along the two bottom edges of the bag. This will give it extra structure.

  8. Fold the open edge of the bag down one inch. Fold it again to hide the raw edge inside.
  9. Stitch around the top of the bag, keeping the side seams tucked towards the middle of each side panel. Be careful if you are using heavy fabric. The seams may be bulky. Alternately, you could use pinking shears along the top edge of the bag and fold it only once. This will reduce bulk around the edge.

  10. Attach the handles an inch from each edge. Sew a square with an 'x' in the middle to attach them securely.

     That's it! Enjoy!
Minor Addendum: I cut out a rectangle of stiff plastic packaging (from a box of envelopes) and let it sit at the bottom so that it stays flat. You could also add some interfacing to the bag but it's not really necessary.
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