Monday, September 17, 2012

Lunch Time (in Style) (with Robots!!!!)

It's more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long difficult words, 
but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?"
~ Winnie the Pooh

A while ago my store-bought, cheaply-made insulated lunch tote finally fell apart.  Ever since, I've been buying my lunch in the cafeteria (or hitting a nearby fast food place), using the argument that I wasn't going to run out and buy a new one, because I wanted to sew my own.  

In fact, I had the pattern all picked out - a freebie from "Sew, Mama, Sew!" (here).  

Not only did I like the style, I LOVED the pink and yellow robots!  ;)

So much so, I ordered that fabric.  And the pattern and robot fabric have been languishing in my sewing room ever since...  :(

This weekend, I decided that the money-sucking black hole of eating out every day had to stop and I was going to make my own, insulated lunch tote.  

First, I had to pick a coordinating fabric (like the dark pink in the sample tote above).  Slight speed bump here - I found 2 options that I loved and couldn't choose between:  

I got them both and, after a bunch of flip-flopping (and possibly some husband-pestering), decided to use the yellow for the lining.  The pattern called for a heavy-weight fabric like canvas as a lining - my yellow fabric was a lighter weight cotton, so I doubled it.

The pattern was supposedly introducing french seams to people for the first time - I didn't think this was an ideal opportunity to learn this technique, because you are sewing 3 sides of a box and then turning it inside out - french seams aren't perfect for those corners.

It also has you square off the bottom of the tote on the outside.

At first I was confused - why have some of the seams on the inside and others on the outside?  Then I realized that it was because part of the lining is hidden inside the outer, insulated layer - but part of it isn't and shows.  So, after thinking it through a little bit, I realized this is actually a nice way to handle the seams in the lining sack.

And that pink fabric?  Well, I couldn't let that go - so I decided to combine it with the robot fabric in a kind of faux patchwork style:

(Faux patchwork, because I'm not good at real patchwork!  Plus, I had already cut the robot fabric and doing real patchwork would have required [slightly] larger pieces OR would have created a slightly smaller sack.)

This outer layer is insulated - luckily I had about 7 yards of insul-brite left over from last year's Christmas presents (doh!)...

The pattern calls for official (1 inch wide) strapping to make the handles, but I decided to use more of the robot fabric.  Given that it is a uni-directional print, I cut the (2.5 inch wide) strips of fabric in half and then sewed them back together such that, if you hang it from the middle, the robots are right side up on each half.

I also interfaced the straps for increased strength.

Finally, I folded each strip in half length-wise (right sides together), stitched and then turned them right side out.  I top-stitched along each edge - partly for looks and partly for reinforcement.  

(My one worry was that the fabric straps wouldn't be strong enough to hold the weight of frozen food and bottles of liquid.)

And without further ado - introducing my new insulated lunch sack - ta da!

I was a little bit worried about the circular opening that doesn't go away when I pull the drawstring tight (and I was even trying to figure out if there was some way to add an inner flap that closed up the hole) - but my husband reminded me that hot air rises and cold air tends to stay low, so he doesn't think this will hugely reduce the effectiveness of the sack at keeping my lunch cold.  

Here it is with the top open:  

One of the things that I like about this pattern is that the sack is a pretty decent size - it easily holds a boxed, frozen meal and two, 20 fluid ounce bottles of something cold to drink.  

(Now, how do I collect for product placement again?)  ;)

I think it's a relatively well-designed pattern - although I always think it's odd how patterns like these are treated as "easy" and "good for beginners", when I find it a bit of a challenge to end up with 2 equally sized sacks that fit together perfectly...  

Bottom line: I really like my robot lunch sack and it felt so good to be in the sewing room and actually get something done!  

I hope you had a great sewing weekend!  :)


  1. Looks like a very practical pattern--it's nice that it's so roomy inside! The robots are really fun, too.

    1. Thanks, Becky! After 1 day of actual use I can report that it didn't keep my food as cold as I would have liked - maybe I need to use an ice pack too...

      But the robots got lots of compliments! ;)

  2. Nice that you did something for yourself. Terrific lunch bag, Gwen and good job!

    1. Thanks, Gwen. :)
      It's no trench coat, but it was a fun, little project. ;)
      Next maybe I'll tackle that rain coat - that should be more of a challenge...