Today, Anne Zeitler of AnneZPlace is sharing an incredibly useful back to school tutorial for sewing an easy to wipe clean lunch bag.


My kids’ lunch boxes are ALWAYS DIRTY (and I figured that I couldn’t be the only one), so I set out to create a lunch bag that would be cute, functional, and SUPER EASY TO CLEAN.  The finished lunch bag measures 9” x 5” x 7”.


  • 1/2 yd. vinyl or oilcloth (main color)
  • 1/2 yd. vinyl or oilcloth (lining)
  • 1/2 yd. thermal batting
  • 9” length of 1” wide hook & loop closure (Velcro)


Use a ½” seam allowance, unless otherwise noted. 

Secure your pieces with binding clips (or clothespins!), rather than pins.  Pins will poke permanent holes in your vinyl.

You shouldn’t need your iron when constructing this bag, because a hot iron and vinyl don’t get along very well!  Check manufacturers’ recommendations and be very careful if you do feel compelled to try to take out some wrinkles. 

There are several types of thermal batting you can choose from.  I used Insul-Bright.  Important to note: this type of batting isn’t safe to use in the microwave.

Step 1: Cut all of the required pieces

From the vinyl/oilcloth (main color), cut:

  • two 15” x 6 1/2” (exterior)
  • four 11” x 4” (flaps for opening)
  • two 15” x 2” (binding)

From the vinyl/oilcloth (for accent color and lining), cut:

  • one 15” x 20” (lining)
  • one 15” x 9”  (exterior accent)
  • two 6” x 16” (handles)

From the thermal batting, cut:

  • one 15” x 20”
  • two 10” x 3”

Step 2: Sew the handles

Taking one of the 6” x 16” handle pieces, draw a center line along the length of the rectangle, starting at one 6” side and ending at the other 6” side. 

Draw a line 1” from each of the 6” ends. 

Fold one of the 6” ends in to meet the line that you drew 1” from the end.  Using a ¼” seam allowance, top stitch along the edge.  Repeat for the other side.

Fold each of the long sides in toward the center line, and then fold the handle along the center line.  The raw edges will be hidden in the middle, along the center line.  Using a 1/4” seam allowance, top stitch along each side.

Repeat step two to attach the second handle.

Step 3: Sew the bag exterior

Sew one of the 15” x 6 ½” exterior pieces to each side of the 15” x 9” exterior accent piece.  These three rectangular pieces together form your bag exterior, measuring 15” x 20”. 

If desired, add topstitching or other decoration at this point.

Step 4: Sew the handles to the bag exterior

Working on the right side of the 15” x 20” bag exterior, make a small dot located 5 ½” x 2 ½” from each corner.  These dots mark the inside corners of the handles.

Taking one of the handles from step two, align the inner corner of a short edge with the dot you just drew on the right side. 

Being careful not to twist your handle, take the top left corner of the handle and match it to dot on the left side.  Secure with clips.

Sew the handle ends to the bag, using 2 parallel seams approximately 2” apart along the bottom of each of the handles.  You will want to sew back and forth a few times to reinforce your handles.

Repeat step four, attaching the second handle to the opposite 15” edge of the bag exterior.

Step 5:  Shape the bag exterior

Fold the bag exterior in half, right sides together, matching the 15” edges.  (In this position the handles should be touching each other)

Sew up both sides of the bag.

Taking one of the seams you just sewed, open the bag slightly and match the side seam with the bottom fold of the bag.  You will create a triangle at the corner of the bag.  The bag’s side seam will bisect the triangle. 

With a quilting ruler, align the edge of the triangle with the 45 degree line on the ruler.  The point of the triangle should be at 2 ½”, and the seam should run parallel to a vertical line on the ruler.

Draw a line along the top of the ruler.  You may want to use clips to secure the edges of the triangle so that the vinyl does not slip and change the angle of your triangle.

Sew along the line you just drew.  Trim off the excess fabric on the point side of the triangle, leaving at least ¼” from the seam you just sewed.

Repeat step five for the remaining corner of the bag.

Step 6:  Shape the lining

Place the 15” x 20” lining piece right side up on top of the 15” x 20” thermal batting piece.  You will want to clip these pieces together to keep them from slipping around.

Sew the lining following the directions in step five.

Step 7:  Place the lining inside the bag exterior.

Turn the bag exterior right side out.

Place the completed bag lining from step six inside the completed bag exterior, wrong sides together.  Your bag should be a “sandwich” with three layers at this point: the bag exterior, the thermal batting, and the lining.

Step 8:  Attach the hook & loop closure.

Place one of the 11” x 4” vinyl pieces right side down.  Draw a line ½” from each edge and ½” from one long side (this will be “the top” in the next paragraph).  Place one of the 10” x 3” thermal batting pieces within the lines you just drew.  Secure with clips.

Flip the clipped piece over so that it is right side up.  Center the hook closure on the vinyl, ½” from the top.  Secure with clips.

Sew around the edges of the hook & loop closure.  In step nine, this completed unit will be referred to as Unit A.

Repeat step eight to attach the loop closure on the second flap.  In step nine, this completed loop closure unit will be referred to as Unit B.

Step 9:  Create the flaps

Place Unit A right side up (the hook closure will be facing up).  Place an 11” x 4” piece of vinyl on top of Unit A, right side down.  Clip in place.  Sew around the top and sides, leaving the bottom open.  Your seam will follow the edge of the thermal batting.  The side of the vinyl that is even with the batting will be left open.

To reduce bulk, clip diagonally across the corners (be careful not to cut the seam!)

Turn right side out. 

Using a 1/8” seam allowance, top stitch around the closed edges, leaving the bottom open.

Repeat step nine for Unit B.

Step 10:  Prepare the binding

Draw a center line down the length of the binding strip, starting at one 2” edge, and ending at the opposite 2” edge. 

Repeat for the second 15” x 2” binding strip.

Step 11: Attach the flaps to the binding

Place one 15” x 2” binding strip right side up.  Center the hook flap (Unit A) on the binding strip with the hook closure facing down.  You will be aligning one 15” side of the binding strip with the open side of Unit A. Secure with clips.

Sew Unit A to the binding strip.

Place the second 15” x 2” binding strip right side up.  Center the loop flap (Unit B) on the binding strip with the loop closure facing up.  You will be aligning one 15” side of the binding strip with the open side of Unit B. Secure with clips.

Sew Unit B to the binding strip.

Step 12:  Sew the binding strips together

Connect the flaps at the hook & loop fasteners.  Match up the ends of your binding strips along the 2” edges.  Be careful not to twist the binding.

Sew the binding strips together along the 2” edges.  You have created a loop of binding with the flaps attached.

Step 13:  Attach the binding to the bag

Separate the two flaps.  Place the binding loop around the outside of the bag exterior with the flap sides down.  (Make sure that the bag handles are down.) 

Align the edge of the binding with the top edge of the bag.  Match the side seams on the binding with the bag’s side seams.  Clip to secure.

Sew around the top of the bag.

Fold the binding up and over the right sides of the bag, folding in the top raw edge of the binding toward the center line on the binding.  Clip to secure.

Top stitch around the bag, 1/8” from the bottom edge of the binding.

Congratulations!  Your lunch bag is complete!