Friday, February 24, 2012

Reusable Snack Bag with French Seams

A few years ago I purchased two reusable snack bags to carry around with me. They have gotten a ton of use, and the time has come to replace them... one of them is falling apart and the other is amongst the missing. This month's Point of View theme – "green" – gave me a good excuse to make up a couple of new ones. Not only did I use green fabric, but the bag itself is "green" in the eco-friendly sense of the word since it's a reusable alternative to disposable bags.

These are great for when you're on the way home from Target and the kids want to eat that bag of goldfish crackers you just bought. They each get their own little snack bag to hold, they don't dump the entire bag you just bought all over the car, and they don't eat the entire bag on the fifteen minute ride home.

I know there are a ton of snack bag tutorials out there, but the tutorial I'm about to share is for an unlined linen bag with finished (French) interior seams. Why linen? Linen is a natural fiber (and I can throw it in the washing machine). There is always an argument over what is and isn't food grade when it comes to waterproof options, so I stayed away from those entirely. I don't need these snack sacks to hold anything but crackers, Tings, and maybe some gummy fruit snacks.

Why unlined? Two reasons: 1) Less bulk. That makes them super easy to ball up fold up and stash in your bag without taking up a lot of space. 2) You know when you get sand stuck between the layers of your bathing suit and all the washing in the world doesn't seem to get it all out? Same goes for a snack bag... those crumbs wriggle their way between the layers and get stuck in there. Eliminate the lining and you eliminate the cruddy crumb trap.

Why French seams? I don't have a serger, so the French seams keep the inside of the bag nice and neat... no loose threads falling off the seam edges into the crackers.

Have I convinced you that these are awesome? Here's how to make your own...

Materials (to make one 6.75" x 5.5" snack bag):
  • linen (A large scrap will work. You only need an 8.5" x 13" rectangle to make one bag.)
  • cotton scraps to embellish
  • hook and loop tape (flexible sew-on type... I used 5/8" wide but trimmed down.)
  • fusible web (I used Heat n Bond Lite.)
  • thread


Step 1: Cut your linen into an 8.5" x 13" rectangle. For the accent strip, cut a piece of cotton that is 8.5" x 2.5".

Step 2: Match up the short ends of your piece of linen and press in half. Unfold and lay flat.

Take your 2.5" wide accent strip and lay it right side down. Press both long edges in 1/4" toward the wrong side of the fabric.

Step 3: Take your accent strip and align the bottom edge 1.25" above the pressed fold line in your linen piece.

Pin in place. Sew the accent strip onto your linen by stitching 1/8" inside both the top and bottom edges of the accent strip.

Step 4 (Optional): Choose a fabric element that you would like to add as an embellishment on your snack bag (I chose the cute little apple from the Alexander Henry Farmdale collection). Cut a piece of fusible web a bit larger than your fabric element, and iron it onto the back of your fabric. Carefully cut around your fabric element ( I left about 1/8" of the white background fabric around the outside edge). Remove the paper from the back of your fusible web and place your fabric element wherever you would like it (but keep it at least 1.5" from the right and left sides of the bag).

Press in place. Slowly and carefully sew around the outside edge of your fabric element. Make sure your linen isn't folded in half while sewing... I may have spent some quality time with my seam ripper after this step :)

Step 5: Time to start putting this thing together. Refold your linen in half along the pressed fold line. Your accent piece should be facing out (i.e. fold with wrong sides together).

Make sure your raw edges match up, and pin along both sides. Sew down both sides using a 1/4" seam allowance. Seam allowance is very important when creating French seams.

Clip the two bottom corners, turn the bag wrong side out, and press.

Sew down both sides again using a 3/8" seam allowance. I'll say it again... Seam allowance is very important when creating French seams.

Step 6: Leaving your bag wrong side out, press the top edge down 1/2" all the way around. Fold over 1/2" again and press to conceal the raw edge.

Stitch all the way around the bag 1/8" up from the bottom edge of the fold.

Step 7: Time for the hook and loop tape. Measure your bag from on inside seam to the other to determine how long you need to cut your hook and loop. Mine ended up being just under 7" for each side of the bag. I had some 5/8" wide hook and loop tape in my stash, but I cut it down to about 3/8" wide so that I could zigzag stitch it onto the bag and cover most of the width with the widest zigzag setting on my machine. Still keeping your bag wrong side out, pin the hook tape to the top edge of one side of the bag. Pin the loop tape to the top edge of the other side of the bag. Sew in place using a wide zigzag stitch, remembering to backstitch at the beginning and the end.

This picture shows the zigzag stitching on the outside of the bag with the bag turned right side out.

Step 8: Now turn your bag right side out.

Push the bottom corners out with a blunt object. Press to make it look nice and neat. Now look inside at those beautiful French seams...

Nice, huh? Now fill it up with cookies... you deserve a treat after all that sewing :)

Now it's your turn... Check out this month's Point of View collage and link up your past or present green projects at the Point of View Green Link Party! What does green mean to you? St. Patrick's Day? Something that is the color green? Something you made that is "green" (recycled, upcycled, reused, etc)? All interpretations are welcome!

I'm linking up...
monogramkojodesignsA Crafty SoireeSkip To My LouPhotobucket


Kim @ craftyNHmom said...

That's great! I love the simplicity of these snack bags. I just figured out what to do with the robot linen I have. Thanks for sharing the idea.

Jonie Marie said...

What a fun idea! I never thought about making snack bags. I love the apple, it is so cute!

Amy at Ameroonie Designs said...

I love these! What a great idea- I may have to customize some for my kiddos to use- hmmm- maybe something to add to an Easter basket? Thanks for the tute Gwen! :)

Jane Wetzel said...

absolutely great idea! love this and tfs! :)

Andi said...

Reusable snack bags have been on my to do list forever! I love the french seams! They actually look like something I can manage :) I may actually try to tackle this project this weekend!! Great tutorial.

chris said...

These are darling, Gwen! Hooray for french seams. ♥

Andi said...

So I cut out 3 and sewed one only to realize I am out of hook and loop :( BUT your tutorial was awesome! Thanks!

Unknown said...

I love these! I like the idea of reusable snack bags but I hate handwashing and, like you said, what's safe and not among waterproof fabrics? I so need to make some of these...

Taryn @ Design, Dining + Diapers said...

This is so cute and practical! What a great idea!

Taryn @ Design, Dining + Diapers said...

This is so cute and practical! What a great idea!

April said...

These are so cute..and practical.....loves! I hope you will link up with me here:

FineArtPainting said...

Sweet & simple.

Come link it up at our linky party:
as our readers would love to find you!


Maria said...

Awww what a cute little bag! I love it!

JennB said...

I made a half dozen of these in about an hour today. Thank you for the clear tutorial.

Christine said...

Very cute tutorial! I especially like the little apple :)

Please come and share this over at The DIY Dreamer!! PLEASE!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for an awesome tutorial! I'm learning how to use my sewing machine and this has been on my list of first projects. I got some material the other day and just whipped one up. It's really cute... but I'm guessing I need to work on my seam allowances. I found the edges bulky to sew over and had to jump over them with the presser foot, and there are small gaps in the top corners since the hook and loop doesn't go all the way to the end.

Tracy King said...

Thanks for this! I just made one for my six year old. I added little loops at the top (small hands seem to have trouble with hook and loop tape sometimes) but otherwise followed your tutorial. It turned out beautifully and now my 16 year old wants one too. I'd call that success. I truly appreciate you taking the time to write up this tutorial. Can't wait to try some others :)

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