Quilted Lunch Tote

Nashville was closed yesterday.  There were between 2 and 10 inches of snow on the ground, falling throughout the day.  All my classes were canceled, and I had my first snow day in ages.

My day was spent making a quilted lunch tote.  Almost every lunch bag I have owned has lacked a quite necessary feature: you cannot lay an entree-sized piece of tupperware flat.  This, friends, is unacceptable, and leads to many more spilled pasta sauces and beet juice stains than is warranted.  So, I set about making a lunch tote that would be 1) insulated, 2) attractive, and 3) large enough to lay an entree-sized piece of tupperware flat.

Unfortunately, I was too distracted to take many pictures of the process, but the pictures I do have will give you a general idea:

This is the first time that I had a picture-worthy piece to show.

What you see here is the interior fabric sewn to the batting and exterior fabric, with the quilting lines stretching between 2″ marks along the edge of the fabric.

To do this, I first laid down the lighter color interior fabric.  I outlined a 11″ x 30.5″ rectangle, then marked all sides of the rectangle every 2″.  Then, using a straight-edge, I drew a fine white charcoal line diagonally between the 2″ markers: first on one diagonal, then its opposite.

Once all lines had been drawn, I used a large safety pin to affix the lighter colored interior to the batting and the darker colored exterior.  This, I hear, is what quilters call “sandwiching.”

With the fabric sandwiched, I took it to the sewing machine, and followed all my pre-drawn lines.  I found that the fabric was less likely to buckle and bunch if I first sewed a line crossing the middle of the fabric, then lines near the ends of the fabric.  Once I had sewn these three lines along one diagonal, I sewed similar lines along the opposite diagonal.  With those general guides, I then proceeded to sew along all the charcoal lines.  What you see above is the finished product of that endeavor.

Here you get a glimpse of the interior fabric, close-up.  The pattern you see on the fabric is a baby blue background, with white “circles” in the foreground.  Each “circle” looks as if it had been made from little grains of rice; the line of the circles is not solid.

Here you see the exterior fabric.  Unfortunately, I do not have an excellent camera, therefore it just looks like I’m trying too hard to be “artsy.”  Still, you can see here the dark brown background setting the stage for light turquoise flowers, outlined in a deeper turquoise/green.

As I was making this bag, I was obviously too distracted by the manufacturing process to bother myself with taking pictures.  Here you see the bag 90% complete.

The front, bottom, back, and top flap of the bag was made from the piece pictured earlier, sewn along the edges of two smaller, 7″ x 6″ sandwiched pieces.  Once the front, bottom, and back had been sewn on, I edged the sides to create a sturdier frame for the bag.  Then came the deep turquoise edge you see around the top flap, then the straps… made from the same interior fabric.

And here’s a look at the interior!  You can see that the sides have been darted so that they naturally pull inward.

You can also see the darker turquoise edging that you saw earlier on the top flap.  To make the edging, I cut the fabric into 2″ strips, sewed them together to make one long strip, then ironed the strip so that it folded in half, then again so that each 1″ side folded in on itself.  In the end, the edging appeared to be 1/2″ wide; I then wrapped this edging along the sides of the fabric, then sewed it into place.

To make the straps, I cut spare pieces of the interior fabric into 3 1/2″ strips, then sewed them into one long strip.  With the printed side of the fabric facing itself, I sewed one long seam down the strip.  With a large safety pin, I pulled the now-sewn strip right-side-out, then ironed it.  After fixing it into place along the bag, I began hand-sewing the handles onto the bag.  I have yet to complete this step, but have only one handle remaining.

So there you have it!  A good, time-consuming project for a snowy day.  The only piece I missed was to find a water-proof liner.  Had I obtained this material, I would have sandwiched it between the interior fabric and the batting; this would keep any potential spills from leaking out of the bag.  As it is, I’ll just have to be extra careful with this one.


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