Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags Tutorial

To cut back on our use of plastic, I 'upcycled' these bags from ripped jeans. I began collecting post-wearable jeans for the aprons I was making. This is a great way to use smaller pieces of material.

Why these are better than the alternatives:
  • Put food in while hot - it won't get soggy or melt the bag
  • No worries about BPA's and the like leaking into your food
  • Sanitary - machine washable in HOT water, unlike plastic-lined alternatives
  • Cute and stylish
  • Easy to make
  • No 'Velcro' means they last much longer, however you wash them.
You will need:
Denim - You can usually make at least 8 bags from one pair of old jeans. (Note - stretch denim is more difficult to sew on a machine.)
Strong thread - a contrasting color is nice.

1. Figure out what you plan to pack. For example, take your average size piece of bread. Cut a rectangle of denim a couple inches wider and 1.5 times as long as the size of the bread. I make mine about 17" by 8" (43x20 cm) for sandwiches and smaller for snacks like nuts and dried fruit.

2. Sew the narrow edges with a zig-zag or over-edge stitch to keep them from fraying.

3. Fold the bag inside out. The short flap should be on the INSIDE. The bags work well when the fold over flap goes about 1/3 down the bag. (In the pictures at the bottom, the flap goes half way down. This makes the bags a little harder to open.)
sewing bag inside out
4. Sew the edges with an over-edge stitch or a straight stitch and a zig-zag stitch to bind the edges. (You may want to turn the bag right-side out after doing a straight stitch, to make sure you folded it the right way.)

Use and care:
To clean, turn bag inside out and brush off crumbs. Hand or machine wash at any temperature as needed.
You may be concerned about the bag lacking a water-proof layer, or you want something less breathable. I usually send the bags with my kids inside a more plastic-y little lunch sack. I've recently acquired a couple "free gift" make-up bags that have just enough insulation to make excellent lunch bags.

Sew a bag - Save the planet - Happy Tu B'Shvat!

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