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ScrapBusters: Insulated Lunch Tote with PUL Lining

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Ditch the brown bag and lighten up your lunch table with this very cute insulated lunch bag. It uses a half a yard or less of two decorator weight fabrics for the exterior with PUL for the lining. Insulating fleece between the layers helps keep your lunch warm or cool. We added Velcro® to seal it shut while still allowing for a quick open... gotta be able to get in when you're hungry! If you wanted to amp up the insulating properties, you could reconfigure the design to add a zipper. The wipe-clean PUL on the inside makes any spills easy to remove. And, extra long handle loops mean you can grab it and go or slip it over your arm, leaving your hands are free to grab a drink or tote your latest lunchtime reading material.

We all love little projects – especially if they can be done on the spur of the moment, using fabric from your stash and leftover notions. That's the idea behind our ongoing ScrapBuster projects.

If you are new to working with PUL, we have a nice tutorial with tips and techniques to make it easy. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies


The bag finishes at approximately 11" tall (excluding the handles) x 7" wide x 3" deep. The handle loops extend an additional 9" beyond the top edge.

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the main front and back exterior panels and the front pocket cut the following:
    TWO 8" wide x 15½" high rectangles
    ONE 4½" wide x 7½" high rectangle
  2. From the fabric for the side panels and straps, cut the following:
    FOUR 2½" x 15½" strips for the side panels
    TWO 2½" x 45" strips for the straps
  3. From the PUL, cut the following:
    TWO 11½" x 13½" rectangles
    ONE 4½" x 6" rectangle
  4. From the insulating fleece, cut TWO 12" x 15½" rectangles.  
  5. From the interfacing, cut TWO 2¼" wide x 45" strips 
  6. Cut ONE 2" piece of Velcro®.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Make the straps

  1. Find the two 2½" x 45" strips in the fabric and the two 2¼" x 45" strips in the interfacing.
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions fuse an interfacing strip to the wrong side of each fabric strip, lining up ONE long side of the interfacing and the fabric. The opposite side of the fabric will extend beyond the opposite side of the interfacing by ¼".
  3. Using the edge of the interfacing as guide, fold over the "extending" raw edge of the fabric and press in place. Repeat with the second strap. 
  4. On the wrong side of each strap, use your see-through ruler to draw a vertical line 1½" in from the raw side edge.
  5. Fold in the raw edge, lining it up along the drawn line. Press the fold in place. Repeat with the second strap.
  6. Fold in the opposite side, overlapping this folded-in edge so the finished width of the strap is 1". It's as if you were folding a letter to mail (remember when we used to mail letters?!). Pin in place.
  7. Topstitch down the middle of each strap staying close to the folded edge. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to maintain a nice, straight seam.
  8. Set the finished straps aside.

Prepare the front and back panels

  1. Find all the exterior panels: front, back and the four side pieces.
  2. Pin a side panel, right sides together, to each side of the front panel. Repeat with the remaining side panels and the back panel. 
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch all four seams.  
  4. Press all the seam allowances toward the side panels.
  5. Find the insulating fleece panels. Place a fleece panel against the the wrong side of each exterior panel. Pin the layers together; just a simple line of pins down the middle is enough. 
  6. Topstitch along the panel seams, staying approximately ¼" from the seam within the side panels. This secures the fleece to the exterior panels.

Make and place the pocket

  1. Find the 4½" x 7½" fabric pocket piece and the 4½" x 6" PUL lining piece. 
  2. Fold down the top edge of the exterior pocket 1½" and press to form a crease. 
  3. Unfold the top edge. Place the PUL and the pocket wrong sides together, aligning the side and bottom raw edges. The top edge of the PUL should align with the crease line of the exterior pocket.
  4. Fold down the top edge again, but this time, first align the raw edge of the exterior panel just above the PUL. 
  5. Press, then re-fold along the original crease line, sandwiching the PUL beneath the folded top edge. Pin in place.
  6. Topstitch along the finished edge to secure. We added our Sew4Home label to the pocket's cuff. 
  7. Find the front of the bag.
    NOTE: At this point, the front and back of the bag are identical. If you have one center panel that you think is prettier than the other, use it as the "front."
  8. Pin the pocket on to the front of the bag, centering it side to side and lining up the bottom raw edge of the pocket with the bottom raw edge of the bag. As a double check, each side of the pocket should be 1¼" in from the panel seam. 
  9. Pin in place, then machine baste on along both sides of the pocket to secure.

Place the straps

  1. Find the two straps and the front and back panels.
  2. Place the front and back panels right side up on your work surface. 
  3. Place one strap on each panel. The raw ends of each strap should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the panel; the handle loop itself will extend beyond. Carefully place the strap so the loop doesn't twist on itself. 
  4. The outside edge of the strap should be 1⅛" from the panel seam on either side, just covering and concealing the raw edges of the pocket.
  5. Pin both straps in place. 
  6. On each side, measure 4" down from the top raw edge of the bag panel and draw a horizontal line or place a pin or clip across each strap. This is where you will stop sewing and turn to go across and back down the strap. 
  7. We attached our Janome Walking foot at this point and used it for the remainder of the construction steps. 
  8. Topstitch each side of the strap in place, staying as close to the edge as you can. We also lengthened our stitch. Start at the bottom, stitch up one side, stop at the 4" mark, pivot, stitch across...
  9. ... pivot, and edgestitch down the opposite edge to complete. Repeat to stitch the opposite side of the strap in place. Then repeat to stitch the second strap to the opposite, non-pocket back of the bag. 

Stitch front to back and box the corners

  1. Place the front and back panels right sides together, matching up the handles front to back.
  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, remembering to pivot at the corners.
  3. Our bag is designed to have 3" sides and base. To create this width, we figured our corners at 1½". 
  4. Mark and cut out the corners. 
  5. Flatten and double stitch the corners.
  6. If you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions
  7. Trim back the fleece along the top edge ¼", then trim the fleece down about 1" from the top within the seam allowances on both sides. This will help eliminate some of the bulk later when we finish the top. 
  8. Fold down the top raw edge ¼" (following the cut edge of the fleece). Pin in place. Edgestitch to secure.  
  9. Turn the bag exterior right side out, push out the corners.

Attach the Velcro®

  1. Find the 2" length of Velcro®.
  2. Find the center of the both the front and back of the bag (as a reference, the center point should be 3½" from the panel seam) and mark both points with a pin.  
  3. Place one half of the Velcro® on the right side of the bag front and and the other half on the right side of the bagback. Center both pieces over the pin marks. The Velcro® should be close to the top finished edge. Pin in place.
  4. Edgestitch around all four sides of each piece of Velcro®.


  1. Find the two 11½" x 13½ rectangles of PUL. 
  2. Place the panels right sides together. Clip or pin in place. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, remembering to pivot at the corners.
  3. Box the bottom corners, using the same method as above. 
  4. Mark and cut out the corners. 
  5. Flatten and double stitch the corners.
  6. Again, if you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions.


  1. Find the exterior bag. It should be right side out. 
  2. Find the PUL lining. It should be wrong side out. 
  3. Slip the lining inside the exterior bag. Line up the bottom corners.
  4. Fold down the top raw edge of the exterior over the lining by 1¼", adjusting slightly wider or narrower to create a perfectly flush top edge. Pin in place all around. 
  5. Edgestitch through all the layers all around the top of the bag, staying close to the inside folded edge. 


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild



Comments (16)

Naehoma-moni.blogspot.de said:
Naehoma-moni.blogspot.de's picture

Danke für of this Tutorial, Ich habe es mir abgespeichtert. Eine tolle Idee, sterben ich gern nachmachen werde.



Nähoma-moni said:
Nähoma-moni's picture

Danke für dieses Tutorial, Ich habe es mir abgespeichtert. Eine tolle Idee, sterben ich gern nachmachen werde.



Duckie said:
Duckie's picture

This lunch bag  is a really nice project.     I would like to make baby bibs, diaper covers, and changing pads using the PUL fabric.   For the bibs and changing pads should the "shiny" (or vinyl side)  be touching  the wrong side of the "fashion fabric" or the soft side and the shiny side be against the body?   When making diaper covers, would the shiny side be against baby's skin?  What about burp bads?    Thank you for any advice ...  To make my question more clear -- the "pretty" side of fabric is the RIGHT side.   so when sewing "right sides together" what side of the PUL is the 'right side' ?  Thank you.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@Duckie - We have two general articles about working with PUL and other Laminates - I've listed both below. I would also suggest visiting the Babyville site for even more details about baby-specific uses - it's what they specialize in. In fact, there answer to your question is as follows: PUL is a polyurethane laminated fabric that is waterproof yet breathable. Because of its leak proof properties, it is perfect when sewing for babies and toddlers. PUL has a fabric side and a laminated side. Either side is suitable as the “right” side; it just depends on the project. One caution: You can steam press PUL on the fabric side but do not use an iron on the laminate side of PUL as it will damage the fabric.

Duckie said:
Duckie's picture

Thank you so much!!   I appreciate your speedy response.  


Duckie said:
Duckie's picture

THANK YOU!   Those sites are SOOOO informative --- I saved in my "favorites" folder ... Thanks again ...

jackie lin said:
jackie lin's picture

I really love this bag. Could you please show me how to reconfigure the design to add a zipper?? Thanks!

LizW said:
LizW's picture

Great idea, but PUL is not a food safe material. Perhaps rip stop nylon would be a safer alternative   

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ LizW - There seems to be a general feeling that PUL is always bad and not food safe, but like many other things out there, you can find multiple opinions but not a lot of definitive facts. Our research shows the FDA has approved food contact with materials with polyurethane in them, and Fabrite PUL has passed the CPSIA compliance testing. However, as with everything, you should always go with what feels best to you! 

Anonymous said:
Anonymous's picture

Thanks for that Liz, however it is not the fibre content that is the issue, it is the chemical bonding.

I love the tute, and your blog, you have such great And inspiring ideas. Thanks for sharing so much. 

MarciaFlorida said:
MarciaFlorida's picture

This is one good looking lunch tote. I like the concept of the cool/hot lining too.

JoyceLM said:
JoyceLM's picture

This would make a great gift for my co-workers who bring their lunch.  Thanks.

mwlipari said:
mwlipari's picture

I love the Scrap Buster series keep the projects coming.

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