My Four Criteria:
1. Uses all wipe-able food-safe fabrics, either water-proof or water-resistant.
2. Utilizes a fold-over tab and does not require zippers or aplix. (This was a big requirement for my husband)
3. Uses fun, affordable, accessible fabrics.
4. Can be created by a novice sewer.
I found so many fantastic patterns from talented women on blogs, through Pinterest links, and sewing sites. I quickly learned that "food-safe" is a debatable term and that fun and affordable water-resistant fabrics are not easy to come by. I discovered patterns using laminated cotton, PUL, and cotton. I found fold over tabs, but not with boxed corners or a inside that could be pulled out to wash. I ran across box corners and the perfect insides, but with velcro.
Since, I couldn't find the ideal pattern, I played around with different fabrics and prototypes, flipping fabrics, ripping seams, bringing different options to Tim for his input. I wanted to use laminated cotton, but at $12 to $14 a yard and only laminated on one side, it was a bit pricey for my project. Laminating my own fabric seemed like the prefect, affordable choice, but proved too stiff and unforgiving for my needs.
Here are a few of my initial tries:
Some people might have given up at this point, but I was on a creative high. I also recognized how quickly my family is plowing through the Costco sized box of sandwich bags I purchased and the financial and environmental impacts of this wasteful practice.
MotivationDid you know?
* Lunchtime trash is second only to office paper as the leading source of school waste, according to Green Teach Magazine, 2004. (Reusit.com)
*RecycleWorks.org estimates that an individual using a disposable lunch generates 4-8 ounces of garbage each day, which can add up to as much as 100 pounds of trash per year.
*Families spend $85 a year on disposable sandwich bags.
According to Wastefreelunches.org, eliminating disposable packaging and single serving items can save families $250 a year.
So, I kept at it, nearly there countless times. I quickly learned that safety pins are a lifesaver in pattern making, allowing for fiddling without the agony of ripping seams.
The best moment came when I decided to use rip stop nylon as the water resistant inner layer, still hoping that laminated cotton would work on the outside. I visited JoAnn Fabrics and found the rip stop nylon. Right next to it, I discovered Olefin 100%, the fabric used to make reusable grocery bags. At $2.99 a yard and with "wipe clean" written clearly on the care instructions, I couldn't wait to try it for the outside fabric! Only 2 fabric choices were available, but I decided to give it a try. I purchased 4 yards of fabric, 2 of each fabric choice, and used 50% off coupons on all of them, making the cost just over $10.
Then, I finally created this sandwich bag pattern using scrap fabric and safety pins
I created the bag using my preferred fabrics and experimented with larger boxed corners, accidentally discovering the ideal snack bag base. While I plan to mini snack sized bags in the future, I'm thrilled to begin using these two patterns with my family today.
Reusable Fold-Over Tab Sandwich and Snack Bag Pattern
I've included my pattern in this post, but you can also go here to download a PDF version for personal use. I hope these patterns help your family save money and produce less waste! If you use this pattern, I'd love for you to link up and share your creations.