Marisa from thirtynine wanted to make a food-safe, reusable wrap for her children’s lunches. After lots of thorough research her kids are happy with the result, and plastic bags are a thing of the past. We think a set of these would be a fantastic holiday gift for any family or for friend who takes lunch to school or work. It’s an eco-friendly option and you can use cheery prints for a happy lunch!
Learn more about Marisa in her introduction where we have lots of links to the sewing she does for her lucky kids. Let us know if you make a set of Nude Food Sandwich Wrappers!
My children’s school, like many others in Australia, has weekly “nude food” days when children are asked to bring lunch in reusable containers without any wrappers and packaging. It’s a great initiative that encourages environmental awareness and reduces landfill, and of course it’s easy enough to buy plastic lunch containers of all shapes and sizes for the kids’ fruit, crackers and snacks. But sandwiches are another matter; it’s hard to find containers tight-fitting enough to keep them fresh, especially when the size of the sandwich varies from day to day depending on the kind of bread, the filling and whether the crusts are on or off. And as for bagels or rolls, just try jamming those in a sandwich container!
Enter The Re-Usable Sandwich Wrapper! I started making these about a year ago and discovered that besides being environmentally friendly, I really enjoy using them. Made from cotton fabric and food-safe PUL, these wrappers not only keep sandwiches of all shapes and sizes fresh all day, but they fit easily into the kids’ lunchboxes (and my handbag), take only about ten minutes to make and look super-cute. Want to make one? Of course you do! But first:
Some Notes About Safety…
In preparing this tutorial I researched the safety and suitability of various kinds of sandwich wrappers. There are loads of tutorials for fabric wrappers out there, but not all of them use products that are guaranteed to be safe. Unfortunately, when it comes to fabric it’s hard to establish exactly what is safe, since fabrics and dyes are tested only for their intended uses, which generally don’t include food storage. Fortunately, there is a safe solution. My sandwich wrappers use an FDA-approved, food-safe polyurethane laminate (PUL) for the inside, and printed cotton on the outside. PUL is a waterproof laminated fabric often used for making cloth nappies, and while your average PUL is not guaranteed to be food-safe (indeed, there are concerns about its safety for food use), certified food-safe or “eco” PULs are now available.
If you are in the US, wazoodle.com has a range of US-manufactured, food-safe PUL at quite reasonable prices. Here in Australia I ordered my PUL from Pocket Rocket Nappies. When in doubt, do question sellers about whether their products are certified as being food safe. As for the outside layer of the wrappers, you could certainly choose to use undyed organic fabrics, but it’s not actually necessary because the design of the wrappers ensures that foods are in contact only with the inside PUL layer only. So go to town and choose something pretty from your stash of quilting cottons!
Washing Your Reusable Sandwich Wrapper
Most days I just wipe the inside of my wrappers with a soapy sponge, but every few days I toss them in the washing machine with the tea towels, hang them up to dry and they come out just fine (as Velcro can do horrible things to other items in the washing machine, I fold my wrappers shiny side out with the Velcro sections joined together before washing). If you’re more hygienic than me, you might prefer to wash them more frequently, and if you really want to be certain you’re eliminating any possibility of harmful bacteria you could soak them in a sanitizing solution. Tumble drying will shorten the life of your PUL so this is not recommended.
My apologies for the essay-length introduction, but now that we have the health and safety issues out of the way, let’s get going!
What You Will Need:
- A square of pre-washed and ironed cotton fabric, approximately 12” x 12” (you can, of course, adjust this for different sizes of bread – these dimensions are on the large side, so go a little smaller if you wish)
- A square of the same size, cut from food-safe PUL
- A 2.5” length of ¾” wide Velcro
How to Make It:
1. Pin your cotton and PUL squares right sides together (ensuring that the shiny side of the PUL is on the inside) and sew with a 3/8” seam allowance, leaving a 2” gap for turning. I mark this gap with colored pins as a reminder. Trim corners close to the stitching and cut off any loose threads.
2. Turn inside out, using a pencil or chopstick to ensure that corners are pushed out fully. Smooth out the wrapper and iron it on medium heat on the fabric side (don’t iron the PUL side!).
3. Topstitch around the wrapper 1/8” from edge, backstitching at the beginning and end.
4. Pin and stitch two 1¼” lengths of the hook side of the Velcro to adjacent corners of the cotton side of your wrapper as shown in the photo, backstitching at the beginning and end to secure. Then pin and stitch the corresponding lengths of the loop side of the Velcro to the two remaining corners on the PUL side of the fabric.
Ta-da! You have made a reusable, washable sandwich wrapper. To use, place your sandwich, roll or bagel inside as shown, and fold the corners of the wrapper in until they overlap and the velcro fastens securely. Now go enjoy your super-stylish and environmentally-friendly sandwich wrapper!