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Published on June 9th, 2014 | by Julie Finn

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DIY Re-usable Lunch Bags from Makery, by Kate Smith

DIY Re-Usable Lunch Bag

I don’t know where our lunch bags go. Do you?

Perhaps one is in a child’s backpack that hasn’t been used since last week. Perhaps another is under the other child’s seat in the minivan. The spare one could be in the wash, because one kid spilled her milk in it. The second spare almost certainly got left at the park.

Lunch bags, along with glasses cases, slippers, pincushions, and bookends, are items that I can never seem to have enough of, so the easy tutes for DIY versions of these that make up part of Makery, by Kate Smith (a publicist gave me this book for free), are handy ones to have at my fingertips.

Recently, stymied by this mysterious disappearance of lunch bags and with a full-day field trip on the horizon, I crafted the DIY re-usable lunch bag from Makery. I can be picky about fabrics that I consider food-safe, so instead of the recommended oilcloth, or the stash vinyl that I also briefly considered, I used felted wool from a sweater in my stash (here’s how to felt wool sweaters!), utilizing the sweater’s bottom hem as the top of the bag so that I didn’t have to pink it, but otherwise completing the tutorial as written:

DIY Re-usable Lunch Bag from Makery

I’ve tried creating DIY lunch bags before, but never really ended up satisfied with them. I think what makes me so pleased with this version is the trick for creating defined edges–this method gives the lunch bag structure, and helps it look like a “traditional” lunch bag. Since Makery is British, there are also metric units of measurement (don’t worry–inches are there, too!), which I find SO much easier to follow when I’m attempting to measure something precisely.

There’s no button and loop closure, or velcro closure, etc., which makes the lunch bag extremely versatile. I use a clothespin to close ours at exactly the right level for what I’ve got in them, after folding the tops down, but it’s also possible to fill them to the brim with, say, popcorn, or blueberries, just to head over to the couch for Family Movie Night.

Of course, my felted wool lunch bags don’t wipe down easily like the oilcloth lunch bags from Makery do, but felted wool washes well at any temperature, and it’s absorbent enough that it won’t wick through every spill.

Substituting materials when you follow tutorials and patterns can be tricky; do you ever try this? If you do, do you have any tips for making the process easier? Share them in the Comments!

[I received my copy of Makery for free, because I can't write about a book if I haven't used it to help me destash my felted wool sweater collection.]

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



  • Tequill

    you use what you have on hand and make the most of it. I like your lunchbags and I bet they are better than the oil clothe ones.

  • Tina

    I am really not as educated about different fabric types as I should be. I use whatever I have on hand, but then again, I’m not really great about following tutorials or patterns, so that might be part of any problems I run into :0)

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      I know your kiddo can be sensitive to certain things, though–I’m thinking of what tissues did to her nose when she had that cold, poor kid! Does she seem to have any fabric sensitivities? Unfortunately conventional wool, the kind that makes the sweaters that I felt, can be REALLY harshly processed to remove the lanolin (that I’d rather have in wool, frankly). Mind you, I don’t actually know of anyone who’s ever actually expressed a sensitivity to conventional wool…

      • Tina

        Wool doesn’t seem to bother her. In the past I have made her hats and mittens from felted sweaters, and each year I crochet her a hat from wool yarn and so far no issues.

        I’m not sure if it’s the paper aspect of the tissues or the chemicals in them, but yeah, store bought tissues are a big negative in our house.

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