Monday, August 29, 2011

Five Minute Snack or Sandwich Bag Tutorial

A suburban greenmom makes lunches...

I love that waste-free lunches are finally beginning to catch on, in more places than our highly crunchy local preschool. (I love that place--waste free lunches, organic hot lunch program, chickens out back which the kids take care of, acres of green lovely property...) And I love that the accoutrements--containers and snack wraps and such--are becoming easier and easier to find.

About a year and a half ago, here at the Booth, I posted a tutorial for making sandwich wraps and snack bags, and I still think it's a pretty good tute that makes some pretty good reusable items. But the fact is, even as easy as those are, one needs to set aside a decent chunk of time. And have actual decent fabric around. Stuff like that. That's a plan ahead project. That's what I make to give as gifts.

The other day I figured out how to make a flip top sandwich/snack bag out of scrappy stuff I have lying around the house, and it literally takes five minutes. And takes very little sewing skill. It's not as pretty as the ones from the other tute, but it absolutely gets the job done.


--long plastic rectangle, like from old ziploc bag or recyclable something, a generous 2.5 times the size of what you want to end up with. Any food-grade impermeable thing is fine, just make sure it doesn't have weird chemicals in it that will leach into your food.

--long cloth rectangle, like from old shirt or fabric scrap bag or whatever, same size.

  1. Sew short ends together, "right" side of fabric facing in.
  2. Turn inside out so right side is facing out. Reinforce short seams from this side, just to make it nice and flat. (If you care, you could choose to finish the side seams with a zigzag stitch to guarantee that nothing will unravel, but that might add 37 seconds to your project, so it's up to you. :-))
  3. With plastic on the outside, fold top edge down about a third to halfway down, and then fold bottom up to meet the top folded edge.
  4. Sew up the sides, making sure you've got about the same amount of flap on each side. (The plastic tends to slip, and you can't pin this stuff without making permanent holes.)
  5. Turn right-side out. You're done.
I'd suggest being a little generous in sizing these; you never know when you'll want to put a larger-than-usual sandwich in one. I tend to underestimate size a lot, which makes for teenier bags than I intended. But considering these can be almost entirely repurposed materials (except I guess for the thread and the electricity of the sewing machine, both negligible), there's a lot of room to screw up, you know?

Give this a try--and if any of the instructions are unclear, please do let me know and I'll edit as needed!
--Jenn the Greenmom


Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

This is such a great and timely tutorial. I wish I sewed better (just learned to use a machine, and not very well). Maybe I"ll give one of these a shot for a project later this year. My one concern would be utilizing single-use disposable plastic bags as the lining -- I have misgivings about using plastics the way the manufacturer intended, and even MORE misgivings about using single-use plastics for long durations. I think I'd go with food-grade nylon instead ---- OR, no plastic lining, like these bags by an Etsy seller I reviewed:

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

Also, could you post a really simple tutorial for making reusable gift bags soon (drawstring, or ribbon tie, etc.) -- so I have time to make them before Christmas???

Jenn the Greenmom said...


I'll try! In the meantime, you should check out Furoshiki--you don't even need to make bags, you just wrap your gifts in big (or not so big) pieces of fabric. I posted on it a year and a half ago or so:

I also, around the same time, found this link with a tutorial, although what I make is even less complicated than these:

Good luck!

(And yeah, I get the plastic misgivings...I use primarily ziploc freezer bags, which are pretty sturdy, but I know it's not ideal. Nylon is good, but the food dries out much quicker...)

fullfreezer said...

When I need to 'pin' something I don't want holes in, I use wooden, spring clothespins to hold it in place. Of course, you have to remove them before they get too close to your needle but usually by then you've got the seam started and it doesn't slide as much.

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

Jenn, I've used large pieces of fabric for wrapping, and I personally think pre-made bag would be much easier for most items. Thanks for the links.

With respect to nylon, I think what you are saying is true for rip-stop nylon, but I have bags from and from an Etsy store (Celeste Blake Designs) which use a thicker water-proof nylon, and I find they work just as well if not better than disposable freezer bags for storing food in the fridge or freezer (and in lunches). However, I'm guessing that nylon costs a bit more than ripstop, which is more common (and what most Etsy stores selling reusable food bags use).

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

I agree this is such a great idea!! I also agree that these would make awesome Christmas gifts.You are just so talented and creative!!

crstn85 said...

Just made one, so cute! I learned that it works much better if the plastic is down when sewing the short edges. Still slippery though so I pinned on the very edge and made a wide seam so the holes are in the seam. I think I'll go make another one with the opening close to the top!

robbie said...

Curious how the plastic holds up?

I'll be honest. Mine go in the washer and dryer. But I used worn shirts and nylon "seconds" from Joanns for mine.

John said...

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