Insulated Lunch Sack

on June 12 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 7 Comments

Sherri from Thread Riding Hood recently shared a versatile Quilted Fabric Tray and this Scalloped Edge Basket; now she’s back with a pretty Insulated Lunch Sack. These lunch sacks would be great for work, gifts or (Shhhh… Don’t say this out loud if you have kiddos in the house…) you could start now and make new sacks for school in September!

Find more from Sherri at Thread Riding Hood and in her introduction.


I am so pleased to share this lunch bag tutorial with you today. It is insulated, fully lined and washable, with a water resistant interior. This lunch bag is surprisingly roomy and, just to make life simpler, it even folds flat for easy storage! It’s perfect for work, your kids’ school lunches or for snacks on the go.

There are so many options for personalizing these bags. Piece and quilt the front or choose your favorite fabric and use it throughout. Because it is insulated, the lunch bag would make a great baby shower gift for keeping bottles and food warm on short trips. With the right fabric choices, this would even make a great gift for the “hard to sew for” man in your life. These are also fast to make, so you can sew extras to keep around for lunchtime emergencies!

The fabric I was fortunate to use for these bags is none other than the latest collection from Anna Maria Horner, Pretty Potent from Warp & Weft. The colours are absolutely gorgeous. I love each print apart and together, though I have an especially soft spot for the light blue-backed “Aloe Vera” print I used at the top of the quilted version of the lunch bag!

This tutorial covers how to create a zippered lunch bag in one fabric, or with a quilted front. Since I know some of you might not want to install a zipper, I have also created a tutorial for a Velcro-fastened version, available on Thread Riding Hood. The finished dimensions of this lunch bag are: 11” high, 11” wide and 7” deep at the fullest part of the base.

Materials:

  • Outer Front: 13 ½” wide x 12” high Quilting Cotton or Scraps for Piecing (see “Quilted Outer Front” diagram below)
  • Outer Back: 13 ½” wide x 12” high Quilting Cotton
  • Outer Base: 13 ½” wide x 9” high Quilting Cotton
  • Upper Lining & Handle Facings: 18” wide by 12” high Quilting Cotton
  • Lower Lining & Base: 18” x 22” Ripstop Nylon
  • Zipper Tab: cut 1, 2”x3” piece of Ripstop Nylon
  • Insulated Material: 36” wide x 14” high Insul-Bright
  • Interfacing: 20” wide x 30” high Medium Weight Woven Fusible
  • Batting (for quilted version only): 14 ½” wide by 13” high Low Loft Batting
  • Water Soluble Marker
  • 12” separating Zipper
  • School Glue Stick OR Basting Spray
  • Pins, Matching Thread, your other usual sewing supplies
  • Lunch Sack PDF Pattern Pieces

Printing the Pattern Pieces:
Print the three page pattern pieces PDF on letter size or A4 paper. Important: Make sure scaling is set to ”None” or “Actual Size” when printing. (Note: Your pattern pieces will look slightly different from the ones in the photo but the ones you have are correct.) Once you have printed the pages, measure the 1″ test square to ensure the pattern is the correct size. Cut out all pattern pieces along their outer lines. Tape the outer pattern piece together, matching the letters in the gray half-circles; the pieces will not overlap. You now have five pattern pieces.

Notes on working with Ripstop Nylon:

  • The “right side” of ripstop nylon is the uncoated (not “sticky”) side. It is less shiny, and has more of a matte finish, than the wrong side.
  • Only pin ripstop nylon within the seam allowances to prevent creating holes in the visible lining.
  • Do not iron the nylon or it will melt!

Cutting and Marking your Fabric:
Cut out all fabrics and materials as indicated on the pattern pieces. (Note: If you are creating a quilted front for your lunch bag, do not cut the Outer Front fabric or interfacing; see “Quilted Outer Front” below.) Also, cut one zipper tab rectangle at 2”x3” from the ripstop nylon. Be sure to transfer marks to all pieces as necessary. When transferring marks to a “cut on fold” fabric piece, be sure to mark each side of the folded fabric with the indicated mark.

To mark the inner sewing line on the handle facing, cut the four facings on the outer edge of the pattern piece as indicated. Now cut out the inner sewing line, place the template over two of your facings and trace the sewing line onto the right side of the fabric.

Mark and cut out the handle area on your two outer pieces of Insul-Bright. Fold the Insul-Bright in half and use the “Upper Lining” pattern piece to trace the handle area onto the insulating material. Cut out the handle on each piece.

Quilted Outer Front:
This section shows how to create the “brick” pattern I used in the quilted lunch bag. You can, however, use any pieced pattern for the front of this lunch bag. Just create a rectangle that measures 13.5” wide x 12” high, make sure to leave approximately 4” un-pieced at the top of the rectangle to allow for the handle area.

To create the brick pattern, cut your pieces according to the diagram shown.

Piece together the brick pattern by first laying out your cut fabric as shown in the diagram.

Join the short ends of the two fabric pieces in each row. Match each piece with right sides together and stitch with a ¼” seam allowance. Press all seams open or to one side. You will now have five rows: two cut rectangles and three pieced rectangles.

Now stitch the rows together into a large rectangle. Match the long sides of the rows with the rows below and above. Stitch one at a time with a ¼” seam. Press all seams open or to one side. Your rectangle should now measure approximately 13.5” wide x 12” high.

Cut one piece of low-loft batting 1/2” larger all around than your pieced fabric (roughly 14.5” x 13”) and baste it (glue stick or basting spray) to the wrong side of the pieced section. Adhere a piece of medium weight woven interfacing behind your batting. This will allow the batting to run smoothly under your presser foot while you are quilting and add stiffness to the lunch bag front.

Quilt as desired. I used straight lines, running from side to side, approximately 5/8” apart.

Square up your quilted front to 13.5” x 12”. Trace one side of the outer pattern piece onto your rectangle, then flip the pattern piece over and trace the other side. Be sure to be careful matching and tracing the pattern piece so it is the correct size. Cut out your outer front following the traced lines. (Remember to mark your fabric as indicated on the pattern piece.)

Sewing the Lunch Bag:

Step 1: (a) Cut a short line inside the handle cut out area in the two marked facings. (b) Place an unmarked facing RST with a marked facing. Pin and stitch around the outside edge with ¼” seam. (c) Trim the seam allowance in half, ideally using pinking shears or cut and clip all curves. Turn each facing through the cut made in (1a). (d) Push out all curves to create tidy edges on the outside of your facing. Press well.

Step 2: (a) Align a facing, with the stitching line side up, to the marks on an outer. Make sure to center the facing from side to side as well. (b) Pin and stitch along the marked stitching line. (c) Cut out the inside of the handle area 1/8” away from seam. Repeat for the other facing.

Step 3: Use a glue stick or basting spray to adhere Insul-Bright to the wrong side of both outer pieces and the outer base. Match handle cut out and edges, then set aside.

Step 4: (a) Place the zipper with the pull tab up. (b) Mark an “L” and an “R” with permanent marker on the Left and Right sides of the bottom of the zipper and separate the two sides.

Step 5: (a) Place the upper lining on your work surface with the right side UP. Place the “L” (left) side of the zipper with the marked “L” DOWN on top of the upper lining. Align the zipper edge to the top edge of the upper lining, and the top of the zipper to the left side of the lining. The zipper tape will be slightly longer than the lining. Place the lower lining on top of the zipper tape right side DOWN. (b) Align the three edges and pin to hold all three pieces together.

Step 6: (a) Mark the lining/zipper sandwich 1.5” away from the right edge. (b) Stitch with a ¼” seam from the left side of the lining to the mark, stop with the needle down. (c) Lift your presser foot and pull zipper down and out of the way. (d) Lower your presser foot and finish stitching the seam.

Step 7: (a) Place the second lower lining on your work surface with the right side UP. Place the “R” (right) side of the zipper with the marked “R” UP on top of the lower lining. Align the zipper edge to the top edge of the lower lining, and the top of the zipper to the left side of the lining. Place the upper lining on top of the zipper tape right side DOWN. (b) Align the three edges and pin to hold all three pieces together. Mark the lining/zipper sandwich 1.5” away from the right edge.

Step 8: Follow the directions in Step 6 to attach the right side of the zipper to the lining.

Step 9: (a) Open the lining. Pin seam allowance and zipper tape to the lower lining (under the zipper). Repeat for the other lining piece. (b) Stitch across both linings securing the seam allowance and the zipper tape to the lower lining.

Step 10: (a) Re-attach zipper sides together and finger press the upper lining away from zipper on both sides. (b) Fold the small zipper tab rectangle right sides together so the short ends meet, then fold each short edge down ½” and pin. (c) Stitch each unfolded edge with 1/4” seam. (d) Turn the tab right side out and place it over the end of your zipper. Stitch across top of tab 1/8” away from edge to secure. Use the hand-wheel on your machine to stitch over zipper teeth to prevent breaking a needle.

Step 11: (a) Place one side of the lower lining right side up on your work surface. Align one side of lining base right sides together with the base on top and pin. (b) Stitch with a 3/8” seam allowance. Start stitching at one marked dot and stop your seam at the other marked dot.

Step 12: Fold stitched side of base up out of the way and align and stitch the other side of the lower lining to the other side of the base. Start and stop your seam at the marked dots, as in the last step.

Step 13: (a) Open zipper halfway. Fold the base pieces together and align zipper tab side of lining. Ensure that the tab end of the zipper is inside the lining and away from the seam. (b) Pin and stitch with a 3/8” seam. Begin stitching where the base stitches end and finish stitching at the top of the bag.

Step 14: Align the other side of the lining, making sure the zipper tape lays flat. The zipper teeth will be facing up (towards the upper lining). Begin stitching where the base stitches end and finish at the top of the bag.

Step 15: (a) Open zipper fully and pin the tab to the side seam. Try to push the top of the tab up as high as possible before pinning it, so the top of the tab lines up with the top-stitched edge of the lower lining (See photo). (b) Stitch across the top of the tab to secure it. You may need to close the zipper slightly so the seam is as close to the top edge of the tab as possible. It is ideal to stitch over the previous tab stitching. Use the hand wheel to stitch over the zipper teeth. Set lining aside.

Step 16: Stitch outer base and sides together (with attached Insul-Bright) in the same way as the lining, omitting zipper instructions. Trim away half of all four outer base and side seam allowances to reduce bulk.

Step 17: (a) Turn lining right side out and place inside of outer; the outer and lining should be right sides together. Align and pin the top edges, making sure the side seams match. (b) Stitch around the entire top edge with a 3/8” seam allowance. Open the bag flat at the side seams to stitch more easily. Trim seam allowance to 1/8”.

Step 18: Turn bag right side out through one of the outer handle cut-outs. Do not use the lining cut-out because it is not reinforced. Pull gently and be patient. It will all come through!

Step 19: (a) Push the lining inside the outer bag. Roll the top seam between your thumb and finger to open it up so the lining is to the inside edge. Pin. (b) Topstitch around the top edge of the bag.

Step 20: (a) Pin the outer and lining together on each side, taking care to match them where the side and base seams intersect. (b) Tack the lining and outer together at this point with a short bar tack. The bar tack is circled in red in the photo above.

Step 21: (a) Fold the handle facing through the handle cut-out and over onto the upper lining of the bag. Roll the seam edge so the facing is fully on the lining side and pin. Take extra time to make sure the lining lays flat. (b) Topstitch around the facing close to the edge, sew carefully because the stitching will show on the outer side of the bag. I find it easiest to use a medium width zig zag stitch. Repeat for other handle facing.

…And you are finished! I hope you enjoy your new lunch bag.


This post is sponsored by Warp & Weft, a Canadian-based company featuring exquisite 100% woven cotton fabrics; they are passionate about textile and design. Warp & Weft goes to great lengths to find prints that are not only of exceptional beauty and quality but that have a compelling story to tell.

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7 Responses to Insulated Lunch Sack

  1. Dee says:

    This looks great and just what I need!
    Thank you for sharing x

  2. Louise says:

    Wonderful instructions, thanks – I am going to try this xx

  3. Becky says:

    What a great pattern! I can see this pattern would appeal to everyone if sewn in the right fabrics. Thank you for the tutorial!

  4. Gorgeous, thank you for sharing, I will have to make one to take to patchwork classes.

  5. Diane says:

    Thanks for the detailed insulated lunch sack tutorial. Getting a head start on my holiday gift giving. I can wait to make one for me too! Love Anna Marie Horner prints too.

  6. svetlana says:

    wow!!! what a fantastic tutorial, thanks for sharing.

  7. Laurie says:

    Wow- this is an adorable project! Makes me wish I had a reason to pack a lunch everyday and show it off.

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