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Most Wanted: Cute Lunch Bags

Most Wanted: Cute Lunch Bags


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After becoming a “working woman” this year (also known as the time when I learned that post-college budgets don’t allow for frivolous lunchtime spending), I quickly discovered that pasta salads, turkey paninis, and grilled wraps need to be kept cold during the morning hours at the office. Each day, I would prepare my meal, only to realize that it would once again have to be toted around in a recycled shopping bag. What was likely socially acceptable in my adolescence now seemed unprepared and outdated.

Only then did I uncover the hidden (and, might I say, magical) world of lunch bags. There are totes, backpacks, collapsible bags–and they're all super chic. So take your mid-day meal to work in style with our favorite lunch totes and bags that serve in form, function, and, of course, purpose. Below are five of the ones that we love on the market right now; which one would you want to be seen carrying into work this week?

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DIY Insulated Lunch Bag from Upcycled Skirt

It’s that fun time of the month again where my friends and I are all about Trash to Treasure Transformations. Woot! You’ll see their projects in a bit. You know I love taking unwanteds and making them new, so how about a DIY insulated lunch bag from some linen skirts. m’kay??

I will proudly say I am a sewing nut (aka. freak, fanatic…you get the idea.) As of late, I’ve been going through a sort of withdrawal. I horribly miss my dear friends,serger and sewing machine. If you’ve been following me on social media, you’ve seen I have found my fix for the time being. I’ve been creating a few birthday gifts like this Ikat bag below, and some wet bags from PUL for my kids. Needless to say you can imagine my fabric stash is plentiful. ahem.

BACKSTORY

I’m not sure if you know this, but when I first opened a shop before ever starting my blog, I made and sold bags and dolls. Funny thing is that I have an infatuation for purses and bags, but really don’t carry a purse until summer time when I don’t have pockets. Crazy, but I like less is more. Also, my feed sack purse seen HERE is still holding strong. However, I mentioned in this post that I was going to use my leather stash to sew a new one, but ended up using it up on my chair. ah well.

For today, I wanted to make use of a couple of linen skirts shown above. Linen is by far one of my favorite textiles, so I don’t dare give away perfectly good linen. Any sane person should hoard it – tsk. These skirts are in great shape, but did not fit me right.

SKIRTS

First, this one was too big and it has pockets that land right at the hips accenting an area that I’d rather not accentuate. Oh, and meet Vivian, my thrifted dress-form that is larger than me, but I still love her. She’s helping save me from modeling these for you.

Based on my past fun and my itch to stitch, I’m going to regularly start posting my Reduce, Reuse, Refashion projects for you. Does that sound good?

Here is the second linen skirt. It’s a wrap skirt that had a flap that just would not lay flat…it drove me nuts!!

As you can guess skirts take much yardage, so I always skim through them at the thrift store for upcycling purposes too. Likewise, you can use denim, linen, wool, cotton, you get the idea. Oh, and don’t forget the linens section too! I can’t tell you how often I’ve found linen yard goods. eep!

DIY TIME

Now, it’s time to cut and get started creating my DIY insulated lunch bag. I always kind eek out when I’m cutting at first. Do you ever do that? I think it’s because I don’t want to mess up and waste it. Perfectly logical as any confessed fabric hoarder will tell you.

Purchasing sewing patterns is something I never do. I enjoy creating my own. It’s a wonder I still have patterns I created eons ago and am still using them to for myself and my family and even my shop. So when it came time to get this idea out of my head, I just kind of used my past knowledge to design it and have a go. Most often my first run is good, but always needs tweaking somehow. That’s half the fun!

LAYERS

What you see below is a layer of the linen skirt, a PUL layer, and an Insul-Bright layer. All awesome stuff. What’s PUL you say? Well, I have cloth-diapered my babies and made diapers as well as covers. PUL stands for Polyurethane Laminate. When they developed PUL I was in 7th heaven! It’s waterproof and absolutely perfect for diaper covers and I even use it in the feminine hygiene products I make for me and my daughters. It never leaks! (lets all pause for a moment to celebrate…really!!) I also make wet bags for swim suits, snack bags…limitless options.

The Insul-Brite is a fantastic creation, as well, that allows you to make an insulated bag or carrier out of anything. I’ve made my casserole carrier and it outperforms any store-bought one I’ve ever had.

SERGING

Okay, back to the sewing fun. Next, I use my serger to piece it all together. I must say if you’ve never used a serger you’re missing out. I feel like Tim the Tool Man every time I use this thing. Such power! mwahahaha… It cuts (if you want) binds strong edges with a 3-thread or 4-thread overlock stitch. I can also do lettuce edging to knits, whip out the flannel hankies we use…so many uses for it.

Next, I add my other details like my label, handles, reinforced bottom, and a top portion I had envisioned to cinch up and look cute. Notice my layers are jutting out and uneven. I remedied the sizing once I got the jist of it. These clips make my job soooo much easier too.

TERMS OF USE: This design is my trademarked property & it cannot be shared or distributed for monetary gain in any way, it may not be modified in any way, and you may not claim the work as your own.

THE REVEAL

Once I finished, I was able to get four insulated lunch bags out of the floral skirt. Aren’t they fun?

For fun, I had to mix up the fabric choices. Meanwhile, I was able to make 3 bags from the linen wrap skirt. And, of course, I had fabric fun mixing it up with them too.

MORE BAGS

Obviously, I had some fun. I even mixed up the interior fabric so when you open it, you get a fun surprise. Yay!

Can you tell I had fun with these? I was elated to be sewing again. Honestly, I feel that way about all the crafts I do: cooking, baking, crochet, woodworking, painting, etc. They all fill my cup in different ways. I’m so thankful for hands and vision to be able to create.

Since the bags have the reinforced bottom, they sit nicely. Although, I forgot to add reinforcement to my first one. <> For more versatility, the top can pop up when needed for taller items to fit too.

Now, before you think I’ve gone crazy, I even used some of my denim linen and twill to make these sets. I had to see how it worked with ticking fabric on the top instead of cotton. Do you like the look?

I couldn’t resist making one in the festive red bandanna fabric I had leftover from making my daughter’s dress. So fun!

Here’s the twill one I made using the black ticking stripe. I love the neutrals, but the denim and floral ones are fun too.

So, I have to ask…of all the designs, which style do you prefer?

Last, I am excited to announce these bags are now a regular addition to my online shop. The stock will be changing as I have fun mixing it up. However, if you have one you see that you like and it’s not available, just let me know.


Strategy 1: Utilize School Provided Lunches to Make Disposable Lunches Easier

School provided lunches are a beautiful thing. They involve zero thinking or effort on our part and provide convenience for parents who already have so much on their plate.

While “hot lunch” could look different this year as schools may be favoring disposable lunch options like prepackaged sandwiches & fruit cups, those are wonderful options that provide nutrients your kids need to make it through the school day.

You will have peace of mind knowing your child had a full belly and was able to focus on learning!


Most Wanted: Cute Lunch Bags - Recipes

I've been making my brown paper bag baskets and delivering eggs in them for a couple of years. For a more personalized look (and to identify who they're from when left on someones front steps) I thought about stamping me some but then decided to try printing them on my printer instead.

And why not add a little something fun to the lunch hour as well?

68 comments:

I absolutely love those! What a great idea!!

ANd the quote is definitely something to think about.

Very, very cute Lindy! You just substituted the bags for paper in your printer? How amazing. I would think that they would be too thick to go through. What a cleaver girl you are.(-:

Way too cute!! I love it. And I'm jealous of your eggs!

Love that so much . I can think of so many neat things to do with them. Thanks for sharing!

Oh so cute Lindy, Makes one think of soooooooooooooo many more ideas!
Thanks for sharing.
Hugs, Amy

You are such a talent - these are marvellous!
Dianne
YONKS
OXOX

um, i love these. I LOVE THESE!

Love the look and feel of these. I can just imagine the treasures that would await inside such beautiful bags!

Love it! That would be great for party favors as well:o) Thanks for the idea! Would love for you to share this at my Summer Fun Fest Linky Party on Monday:o)

what a super cute idea! following you from I heart nap time )

These are great! I am you newest follower. I would like to invite you to stop by my site. Found you through I heart Naptime.

I used to hand-stamp designs on my brown paper bags to make them more fun too. I haven't used one in a long while though. Yours are cute and I like how you made a handle for your egg bag. :o)

Lindy,
I just love this idea! Can't wait to try some of my own.
Cheryl
p.s. Glad you tried putting your hand in the printer first:-)

I'm in love Lindy. Those are too cute!!

These are wonderful. I love the furniture polish quote, that is so funny! And what I wouldn't give for a bag left on MY doorstep of fresh eggs from the girls at Cottage Hill . OMG your neighbors are SO lucky!

Kimberly @ TheSterlingCherub
(My Blogger is messed up and won't let me comment as myself, so I have to be anonymous.)

Love this idea! I will have to try it. My printer and I do not get along, so I have my doubts if it will cooperate like yours!

I always give away my eggs in brown paper bags, but from now on they will be cottage hillized. Thanks.

Wonderful idea. You're so creative.

Such a cool idea!! And yours are gorgeous! Brilliant!

BTW, I am giving a quilt away on my blog if you'd like to stop by and check it out!

How fun and creative you are! I love the idea of making such cute brown bags by using your own printer. I've never had good luck with my printer at home with anything for the craft, but it seems really interesting. What kind of printer do you have?

Lindy,
These baskets are so darn cute. thanks for giving me a new idea.

Super cute Lindy! My boys would love these.

what a fun idea. i love these!!

Enjoyable indeed!! You have made those brown paper bags a delight!!

Now this is a thoroughly charming and clever idea. Wish we did not live so far apart! I'd buy your eggs with pleasure!
Rose

I had no clue you could stick a paper bag through the printer! I love the animal ones. these would be perfect party bags!

Brilliant idea!
I would love for you to share this at our Monday Playdate link up: http://beneaththerowantree.blogspot.com/2011/05/playdate-link-party-everyone-welcome.html

Cheers,
Lori
http://beneaththerowantree.com
COme & Play :: Playdate

Lindy,
You are amazingly talented! I am your newest follower!
Your home is a fabulous makeover. Stunning, adorable and terrific.

they look too cute! I made vintage lunch bag printables before http://fun.kyti.me/index.php/2011/04/vintage-lunch-bag-printables/
super easy, also nice to wrap a gift!

I love your egg bags, Lindy! Good for you with the printer--I was trying to print fabric and finally gave up :(.

These are too stinking cute, Lindy! I especially love the elephant bag. What a fun way to enjoy lunch!

Those are just so cute! Such a fun idea, thanks for sharing.

So cute. Glad it didn't eat your hand. Thanks for sharing this fun idea at WUW.

That is such a fun and creative idea! I can't wait to try it out.

Wow, these are so cute! It never occurred to me to try and print ON the bag. I've stamped, drawn, and stickered bags, but never put them through the printer. We use insulated lunchboxes, but this would be perfect for fieldtrip days or as someone mentioned, for party favors!

And I love your egg "basket" idea--it would save me a heap of trouble over finding egg cartons!


3. A leakproof Bento box for anyone who wants to pack a worry-free lunch in four satisfying compartments.

Features: four leak-proof compartments, BPA-free, includes 20 recipes and meal ideas

Promising review: "So far so good. We had the smaller version and loved it, but needed a bigger size to fit the full sandwich so we got this one. I love the color, and as usual, I love this bento box is leakproof. I ordered many other brands all at the same time, and did leak testing. This is the only one that did not leak water at all." —C Mama

Get it from Amazon for $29.99 (available in six colors).


Black+Blum Lunch Box

This classic Rubbermaid container has a few upgrades that make it ideal for a salad-for-lunch situation. First, the lightweight container contains three sectioned-off compartments. It also has a removable tray that holds a small dressing container, which is a crucial feature for soggy salad prevention that surprisingly few lunch containers include. (You can even buy extra dressing containers.) I filled the compartments with a handful of greens, a hard-boiled egg, a pile of diced veggies, and dressing. Each component survived my morning commute secure and leak-free.

The container also has built-in microwave vents. Just lift the latches on the side and you can reheat your lunch without any risk of splatter. It's stackable and unobtrusive and it's the best budget option of the group. An extra bonus: The Rubbermaid container is safe for the dishwasher, microwave, and freezer.


Before sending your child off to school with new gear (a lunchbox, container, water bottle, reusable silverware, etc.), practice with the item at home. Don’t expect your child to know how to use something or understand that an item needs to be returned home (such as a container) on their own. Practice how to open the lunchbox, how to put a container back in the lunchbox, and how to open the water bottle. A chill weekend is the perfect time to pack a “mock lunch” and practice with new gear.

Older kids probably don’t need this extra practice. Instead, talk to your child about the new gear, modeling how to use it, so they understand what needs to be returned home (such as containers and reusable baggies) or how to open a new water bottle lid.


Sew a 15 Minute Reusable Snack Bag

Several years ago I set out to design a very simple reusable snack bag for things like sandwiches and crackers. I came up with an easy design that took me only 15 minutes to sew! These little DIY reusable snack bags are cute and they're so functional for litterless back-to-school snacks and lunches.

This tutorial was originally published in August 2013 and has since been updated with new photos.

Materials (for one 6 ½" x 6 ½" snack bag):

  • 2 pieces of laminated cotton (or another material you choose**) that measure at least 7 ½ x 16 ½"
  • a roll of 1" wide velcro
  • sewing machine & thread
  • paper clips to hold slippery fabric in place (optional)

**I realize that some people may prefer to use organic cottons or other fabrics near their food, so please choose a fabric that you're comfortable with. Keep in mind that if your fabric does not have a "plasticky" coating, your food won't stay as soft or crisp. I've researched laminated cotton and I'm comfortable with using it next to my food. It's pthalate free and BPA free.

JUMP TO THE PRINTABLE INSTRUCTIONS

Instructions:

Cut out two rectangles of laminated cotton that measure 7 ½ " wide by 16 ½" long. I chose to cut my lining and outer fabric out of the same kind of fabric (laminated cotton), but you could make them each a different type of fabric if you choose.

Place them right sides together and sew around three sides (using a ½" seam allowance), leaving one short end open. You can choose to keep the fabrics in place with paper clips as you sew (I just wing it!).

Turn the rectangle right-side-out, and then fold the short edges in about ½" and topstitch to close the remaining short end.

Finger press around the perimeter of the rectangle (you can't use an iron on laminated cotton). Cut a piece of velcro that's about 6" long, and sew the "hook" side to the top edge of your rectangle as shown (use the side without the topstitching) and the "loop" side to the opposite end of the rectangle (but place it on the back of the rectangle and about 2" from the edge as shown).

Fold the bottom edge up as shown, so that the bottom velcro is facing outward and its edge is about 2 ½" inches from the top edge as shown. Secure with paper clips if you wish, and then topstich around three sides of the snack bag, securing the sides and finishing the flap.

Now, wasn't that simple? It's a darling little reusable snack bag in a few easy steps and with minimal materials.

I've made lots of these and my original ones are still going strong at 6 years old! Let me know how they work for you. If you prefer a zippered snack bag over one with Velcro, have a look at my zippered wet bag tutorial and size it to your needs.


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Maruo started making kyara-ben boxes when her sons, now 13 and 16, were younger. "I wanted my kids to enjoy eating lunch at kindergarten," she said.

Tomomi Maruo teaches moms how to make character bento. Photo: Ko Sasaki for The Washington Post

Other mothers started asking her advice, kicking off a business that has had her offering kyara-ben lessons for the past 13 years. "Mums like to see their kids' happy faces, and most mums enjoy making kyara-ben because it's fun," she said.

Kyara-ben are mainly made for children in preschool or kindergarten to help introduce them to a wide variety of foods and stop them from developing picky eating habits. This approach may have some merit: The vast majority of Japanese children happily eat grilled fish and steamed vegetables.

But the kyara-ben craze is also a symptom of the enormous expectations placed on women in a country notorious for creating hurdles to becoming a working mother.

The Japanese government cabinet office was sharply criticized for tweeting a link to a blogpost in which a mom wrote about making cute lunchboxes even when she's tired or busy.

"Thanks to the smiles [I get from my son], making bento each day has become a time I enjoy," Keiko Iwata wrote on the Cheering for Women blog, associated with the government's "womenomics" efforts to getting more women into the workplace and let them "shine."

Critics noted the contradiction between promoting the idea that women ought to be making such time-consuming lunchboxes at the same time as it's trying to make it easier for women to work.

Many pregnant women are forced to leave their jobs, either because of mata-hara (maternity harassment) or because the relentless working culture is not compatible with family life. Japanese kindergartens in particular place a heavy burden on mothers - from sewing little bags for books and shoes to making cute lunchboxes.

There is no shortage of inspiration here.

The Japanese Internet is full of photos of adorable kyara-ben, and there are hundreds of books devoted to the subject, with titles like "Kyara-ben for First-timers: You Can Make Cute Kyara-ben Quickly on a Busy Morning!"

Homeware stores have shelves of molds to easily press rice and even hard-boiled eggs into animal shapes, and supermarkets sell cute paper liners for boxes.

A cable channel show offers instruction on how to make kyara-ben inspired by the mascots that are ubiquitous in Japan, and there are even kyara-ben competitions where mums vie to make the most breathtaking box. But sports days and other events where mothers are present - and can check out other kids' bento boxes - often turn into a contest of their own.

This kind of pressure on mums can cause plenty of headaches. One news report entitled "The cause is kyara-ben! A fight breaks out between mummy friends!" earlier this year described the envy that was fomenting between some mothers. Some kindergartens have even started banning kyara-ben for fear of bullying: kids making fun of those with substandard lunchboxes.

There are certainly detractors. "I saw kyara-ben images on Facebook and realized they were made by mums who woke up at 4 or 5 a.m. I am so glad I am not being a mom in Japan," one woman wrote in Japanese on the popular recipe site Cookpad.

But Minamisawa and Inokuchi, neither of whom works outside the home, said they were inspired by the class.

"It was much easier than it looked," Minamisawa said, although she noted Maruo had done most of the preparation. "It would be hard if I had to do everything from scratch."

Most days, Minamisawa spends 15 or 20 minutes making a lunchbox for each of her older kids, although more ambitious boxes take twice that. She is already thinking about making ghost-shaped rice balls for Halloween.

Inokuchi said she would use plastic wrap to form rice balls into shapes at home. "I want to work hard and make a cute bento," she said. Minamisawa added: "When my kids come home with an empty bento box, it makes me really happy."


Make Your Own Beach Tote

This is a great little tote bag for summer from Crazy Little Projects. The entire pattern is available on the site. You just have to print it out and get started. This is a really easy project that does require a bit of sewing but if you are an avid sewer then you should be able to turn this out in just a couple of hours. You just need a couple of yards of fabric and a yard of interfacing.

It’s a great little bag and fairly roomy so you will have space for all of those beach necessities. This would be a great project for gift giving if you know someone who just loves totes.


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