Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reusable Sandwich or Snack Bags

I'm back! Now that law school is over and we're back in Michigan, I'm hoping to have a little more time to devote to crafting. Regular readers might notice that the blog has a fresh look--just a little makeover to get me out of the old rut. I finally broke down and joined Pinterest . . . and quickly became an addict! I've been pinning lots of healthy snacks to take with me to work. This, in turn, got me thinking about ways to transport my yummy treats.

I like the ease of Ziploc bags--not too big or bulky, easy to slide into a purse. But I hate throwing them away (it is such a waste of money and I don't feel great about contributing to the amount of plastic going into landfills). At the same time, I don't like washing zip-top bags out; they are never quite the same. So, I set out to make my own reusable snack bags. There are LOTS of tutorials on the web for making reusable sandwich bags. Some DIYers opt for designs constructed entirely of fabric--they're washable and there are fewer concerns with food safety. Because I'm not the best at routinely washing textiles (I have a drawer overflowing with dish towels to cut down on how often I have to do laundry), I wanted something that could be brushed out or wiped out quickly and easily. In the end, I decided on a PEVA tablecloth from Bed, Bath, and Beyond with a fun, circusy print. I can't say for sure that it is food grade material, but it is PVC and chlorine free. And it's a tablecloth, so it seems reasonable to assume that the maker anticipated some contact with food. Ultimately, it is a personal choice and you should use a material that you are comfortable with.

As for the actual construction, I used the same method I did for my Microwaveable Potato Bags Essentially, I cut two strips from the tablecloth, each measuring 15.5" x the width. I put the right sides together and sewed a seam along each long edge. Then I flipped it right side out and cut it into about 7.5" widths. I folded each piece as pictured at the right (the short folded portion becomes the flap that covers the opening). Then I sewed along the unfinished edges, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance. I trimmed the raw edges so they would be nice and even (and a little less than 1/4"). Then I flipped each bag right side out and pushed out the corners with the tip of my scissors. To finish, I topstitched along the side of each bag, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance. This hides the exposed edges on the inside. I opted not to add any sort of closure to the bags, but you could easily use Velcro, zippers, or snaps if you were worried about spillage. My top flaps overlap far enough that I'm not worried about any food sneaking out. figure one 60" x 120" tablecloth should make 16 sandwich-size bags and about 14 half-size snack bags. Not bad for a $12 investment! Be creative and enjoy!

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