Monday, July 2, 2012

Reusable Sandwich Bags! {Tutorial}

My two baby cousins ("baby" being 6 and 8) recently moved in with my family and me.  With my brother and I being both over 20, my parents had pretty much thought that their time with younger kids was over.  They thought they were done with school supply shopping and summer camps and packed lunches and toy chests.  How wrong they were.

While these kids are stinkin' awesome (which might be the understatement of the century), having little kids around has definitely been a financial burden that my parents weren't expecting.  While my momma is a HUGE couponer--she is constantly surprising me with "Hey! Check out what I got for free at the grocery store today!"--I figured there are other ways that I can help out (you know, aside from hours helping with homework and tying shoes and all that stuff.

I got the idea to make some reusable sandwich bags (those ziplocks add up, for sure!) when a friend of the family gave us a giant package of toilet paper.  It was brilliant!  I mean, obviously two more people in the house means two more butts that need wiping and that means more money to to buy paper.  It was one of those gifts that was completely unexpected and also completely helpful.

I found about a trillion different tutorials online via google and pinterest, but none of them seemed like the best way to go about it.  These bags are lined with a plastic tablecloth.  For me and my family, we have no problem eating off of plastic of this sort, but this is a call you need to make for your own family.

With all that said, here's my tutorial for the reusable sandwich bags that have already gotten plenty of mileage.  It might take you a couple of days (it's a pretty tedious project), but they're definitely worth it! They're perfect for trips to the beach and the pool and the zoo and the library and anywhere else where a quick lunch needs to be packed.

Supply List (makes 25 reusable bags)
-Fabric Bundle ($5 with a 50% off coupon from Joann's)
-Coordinating Ribbon
-2 or 3 loops of Hook & Loop Fasteners (Velcro that Joann's sells for 99 cents a yard in loops)
-Coordinating (or contrasting, depending on preference) thread
-1 plastic tablecloth in a coordinating color ($1 from the Dollar Tree)

Iron the fabric from your bundle.

Cut 50 three-inch pieces of your coordinating ribbon.  The ribbons are going to be used as pull handles so that little hands will be able to open the reusable sandwich bags.

Step One
I laid out the Fabric Bundle that comes with five different coordinating fabrics.  Then, I layered the plastic table cloth so that are five layers of plastic--one for each layer of fabric.  I used my handy-dandy rotary blade to even out the edges and then cut them like this:

This has five layers of fabric and five layers of plastic tablecloth.
Step Two
The next step is to sew one layer of fabric right-side to the plastic table cloth.  

I used a 1/4" inseam.
Sewn right sides together

A Quick Note: I found that it was easiest to do one step at a time.  That means that I sewed 25 bags right side together.  Then did step two 25 times, then moved on to step three.  I found that it helped me keep everything organized. 

Step Three
Pull them right-side out.  It's important to be really careful when you're pulling them all right-side out; the plastic is a little delicate.
Twenty-five pieces, all pulled right-side out. 
Step Four
This is by far the most delicate step: you've gotta iron them all flat.  Ironing is an extremely perilous step because (duh!) you're ironing plastic.  Thin plastic that melts VERY easily.  So you're going to want to set your iron to the lowest temperature possible, and only place the iron to the fabric for a second at a time.  Here I've got to mention the importance of ironing on the FABRIC side and not on the plastic side.  

Ironed fabric!
Step Five
Fold the raw edges of the fabric and the plastic in on both sides and iron (again, being careful to be quick and iron on the fabric side only).  These edges are eventually going to come together to make the opening--you know, where you put all your tasty snacks.

Raw edges folded and ironed
Step Six
Fold a ribbon piece, then pin it in between the fabric and the plastic on the raw edges that you just folded and ironed in Step Five.

Stack of 25 bags folded, ironed, and ribboned
Step Seven
Cut your velcro--I mean, hook & loop fasteners.  You want it to run along the entire length of your sandwich bag (read: the side with the ribbon).

Here I used some stick-on velcro that I had
lying around.  They're no fun.  They gunk up
the needle.  Go for the sew-on kind.
Once you've got the velcro pinned on there, you're going to sew it on.  I did once across the top of the velcro, and once across the bottom.  Don't worry to sew the sides up right now--we're going to do that later.  The stitch across the top of the velcro is going to secure the ribbon, attach the velcro, and secure the open flap shut.

Step Eight
Stick your velcro together on each bag.  This is what your final product will look like.  Then stitch up each side like so: 
Step Nine
Sit back and admire your beautiful reusable sandwich bags.  They should last a couple of uses before you need to wash them.  When the time comes, wash with cold water and lay flat to dry.  You DO NOT want to stick these things in the dryer.  I predict a gooey plasticy mess.

For this project, I made one boy set (seen above) and one girly set sewn with a pretty, dainty pink and yellow floral bundle I picked up for the same price.  We've got a little boy and a little girl who, come Fall, are going to have the most stylist lunches around. 

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