Lunch Sack

In classic style, Mr J left his lunchbox at school over the school holidays. Needless to say, after that interval, it was in no fit state to be anywhere near food. Time for a new lunch box.

I have a number of requirements when it comes to lunchboxes.  After the first year of packed lunches I tossed away the special divided lunchboxes - too hard to keep clean, and I could never fit what I wanted - and had a larger soft case that was used to keep together a disparate collection of smaller containers. One for a sandwich, one for biscuits, one for a muffin etc etc. The system works for us. I can keep our waste down, and change around what's for lunch depending on what's in the cupboard and fridge.

So I wanted something similar - easy to keep clean, large enough for the sandwich container, and preferably a free pattern.

I'd already tried another pattern for my daughter, but it was a little small, so I eventually hit upon this design from A Lemon Squeezy Home.

Feeling like a very generous mother, I offered Mr J the choice of one of my half yards of Dr Who fabric.  He initially chose the dalek fabric, but was concerned that the others at school wouldn't know that it was Dr Who. Cue an important mother/son discussion on what he wants versus what other people think. So he stuck with the dalek fabric (just as well, cause I'm busy dreaming up plans for the other fabric).

I have some PUL in my stash (somewhere), but it's not really food safe, and it has cute owls all over it. Not really his thing.  But I did have a cooler bag from Aldi that had seen better days. It was torn some time ago, and I'd unpicked it a little, and stored it, 'just in case'.  Unfortunately, it's time like these that only encourage my tendency to hang on to things that may be useful. The 'material' is a foam, covered on one side with a foil.

So instead of using an outer fabric, batting and lining, I used the foam as the lining, and skipped the batting.

I wasn't willing to cut into it without a trial run. So first up was a version for me with some other fabric from the stash.  Not sure how sensible it was to make a lunch bag with the word Chocolat all over it, but it's food isn't it.

Looking at the finished version, it wasn't quite wide enough, and the sides were a little bigger that what I was aiming for. But I was happy with the height and overall appearance.

So I adjusted the piece size to be 11" high and 11" wide (I was initially aiming for 11.5" high - as per the original, but miscut).  And reduced the side stitching from 2.5" to 2".  Using the existing template for the flap, I adjusted the width to be an inch wider.

Using the foam posed a few difficulties. It tends to stick on the base of the presser foot.  Fortunately I have some teflon sticker thingies to attach to the bottom of the presser foot. I combined them with a longer stitch length to help it sew evenly. Another technique I have used in the past has been strips of tissue between the foam (or PUL) and the presser foot. I have a nice stack of tissue salvaged from tea orders for just such a purpose.

 As it was, I suspect the stitching stretched the foam a little (the first one was difficult to fit the lining in the outer), so I used a slightly larger than 1/4" seam allowance on the insert.

I didn't pin the foam, but used wonder clips to hold it in place.

When boxing the corners I used the clips along the fold lines to hold it in to place. Like the photo.

I added a handle to the back  - using a toptsitched tube of the outer fabric - triple stitched at each short end.  I also stitched along the top at the base of the flap, so that the whole outer wouldn't pull away from the liner when you pick the bag up.

Before adding the bias binding, I basted the insert to the outer fabric. It was a bit easier to keep the layers together at this step with the foam on top.  Attaching the binding, I stitched in two steps. At the corners, I stopped the stitching, adjusted the binding, and started again after the corner.

Because the thicker layer is on the inside, it needs a bit of coaxing to make the folds at the sides sit right.  I sat it under something heavy (my makeshift clapper) for a while to see how that worked out, and by morning it was just right!

All up I'm really happy with this modified version.  If I make one for myself, I'll probably use a canvas lining, and add the batting to the outer layer as per the original instructions - I don't intend on needing it to be able to be wiped clean.

It's big enough to easily fit a sandwich container, some fruit, and other bits and pieces.

If the insert breaks or gets damaged, then I plan on making up a new one. Fabric's cool like that.
There are a few extra things I changed out because of the insert thickness. I tacked the velcro through all layers, as the outer was pulling out when trying to open the flap.  I also embroidered his name on the front. I didn't think of this till it was finished, so it's a bit of backstitch in embroidery floss. Next time round I'd do it with my machine before it's assembled (maybe on the handle).

Have you noticed all those next times???? Yep, I have another one planned (maybe two). But unless I scavenge another cooler bag I might stick with the more traditional materials.


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