It used to be that every August I’d hit Costco for industrial sized boxes of ziplock baggies, to pack sandwiches and snacks in my girls’ lunches. Then a couple years ago I began searching for reusable containers. I discovered that Bentos, tiffins, Tupperwares, mason jars, and the like make great use of leftovers, but they can be clumsy to pack. It’s not always easy to fit all the rigid containers into a lunchbox, especially with growing preteen girls who eat like horses. Often, I’d end up going right back to those flimsy disposable plastic baggies.
I looked into some reusable plastic baggies but at $10 for a pack of two, times three kids now that the youngest needs to pack a lunch…? Yikes!
So, I researched the best fabrics to use for durability and stain- and water-resistance. I set out to get some vinyl tablecloth fabric, but as I was holding the bolt in my arms at the cutting table I noticed the sticker on the end that said it contained a “chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects” WHAT!? Yeah, that is NOT going to be coming anywhere near my kids’ food. So I landed on some cute, bright printed cotton canvas with a rip-stop nylon lining. The nylon will wipe off easily in between uses, and if it needs a serious washing, the canvas will hold up.
I came across some patterns for bags with zippers, gussets in the bottom, nicely turned linings, and stuff…ain’t nobody got time for that! I’m all about ease and simplicity. Also, I am supremely lazy. I decided to simply take a rectangle and fold it into a bag shape, stitch into place, add a velcro closure and be done with it. This is so easy. If you can sew a straight line, you can do this! Make a dozen of these in an afternoon, and be set for the whole school year.
What you need:
Main fabric (I suggest a light-weight cotton canvas or chambray)
Lining fabric (I suggest rip-stop nylon or food-safe plastic such as a freezer bag)
Coordinating polyester thread
Cut a 9” by 19” rectangle out of both the main and the lining fabrics. They do not have to be exact, and you can make larger or smaller rectangles to suit your needs. This size will fit an average sandwich, or a few handfuls of snack foods.
Pin rectangles, right sides together. Straight stitch all the way around 3 sides with about a ½” allowance, leaving one short side open.
Trim stitched edges down to about ¼” with pinking shears.
Turn right-side out, making sure to pop corners all the way out. Fold open edges in about 3/8”. (fig. a)
Press all edges and straight stitch across the open side, with about a ¼” allowance
Attach Velcro to opposite short sides: one to the lining side (we’ll call this the “top”) and the other to the outer side (we’ll call this the “bottom”) so that when the bag is finished they will line up. (fig. b)
Fold the bottom of the rectangle up, leaving a 3” flap at the top (so the Velcro top edge will fold down as a flap and meet the Velcro on the bottom) (fig. c)
Pin and straight stitch the two open sides, back-stitching at the opening for reinforcement.
Overlock all edges for a nice, finished look.
To clean your baggies, simply turn inside out, toss in the washer (I recommend not using fabric softener or perfumed detergent, the fragrances may linger and affect the flavor of the food), and allow to air dry overnight. For non-messy foods, they really just need to be turned inside out and the nylon lining wiped down.