The Refashioners 2016: sew an appliqué lunch bag

How to refashion a denim lunch bag

Each week for a month, we’re sharing a bonus denim upcycling project here on the blog as part of The Refashioners 2016. It’s back-to-school time, so grab an old pair of jeans and sew up this sweet appliquéd lunch bag by Jessica Entwistle – it’ll only take an afternoon!

The Refashioners 2016 logoDesigner Jessica says: “You can embellish this easy-to-make lunch bag however you like. I’ve kept mine simple with a healthy apple motif, but you could personalise yours with appliqué initials, embroidery or even have fun with fabric paint.

To make the bag, you need as wide a pair of straight leg jeans as possible. Men’s jeans are great for this, though ours are a larger sized ladies’ pair with a 24cm (9½in) wide leg.” lpic cover shot.jpg

You will need:

  • 1 pair of blue jeans: straight leg
  • Cotton fabric print: 10x10cm (4x4in) (ours is Clown Stripe by Michael Miller)
    Bondaweb: 10x10cm (4x4in)
  • Bias binding: pink, 12cm (43/4in)
  • Cotton thread: dark blue and bright pink
  • Button
  • Basic sewing kit

How to sew a denim lunch bag

Cutting out and appliquéing the motif

Step one Cut the bottom 40cm (15 3/4in) off from one leg – to about knee height. Zigzag the raw fabric edge to stop it from fraying. This will be the bottom of the bag and the original jeans hem will be the top.
Step two Trace around the apple template (page 96) then turn it over and draw around it on the paper side of the Bondaweb. Cut out 1cm (3/8in) outside the drawn line. Press this paper-side up on the wrong side (WS) of the printed fabric and cut around the drawn line.
Step three Decide where you want your apple motif to be. Ours is 10cm (4in) up from the bottom zigzagged edge and slightly off centre. Remove the paper backing from the Bondaweb and press in place.Make a lunch bag - step 1.jpgStep four Stitch around your apple twice, being careful to sew only through the bag front. Use a dark blue thread so it shows up
to give a hand-drawn effect.

Boxing the corners

Step one Turn your bag WS out and fold flat. Pin along the bottom edge and stitch together 1cm (3/8in) up from the bottom. Zigzag stitch to neaten the raw edge. Making a lunch bag - step 2.jpgStep two With your bag WS out, fold it in half lengthways so that the jean leg seams are in the centre. Pinch the bottom corners to form a triangle and press the corner seams open. Mark 3cm (11/4in) up from the point and draw a line across, then pin. Making a lunch bag - step 3.jpgStep three Stitch along this line to make one box corner. Cut off the corner and machine zigzag to neaten.

Adding a loop and button

Step one Fold your bias binding in half lengthways and stitch along the folded edge. Now fold this in half to make a button loop. Making a lunch bag - step 4.jpgStep two Turn the bag right sides (RS) out. Fold the top of the bag over and mark the centre. Pin then stitch the loop on the underside. Stitch twice to strengthen. Making a lunch bag - step 5.jpgStep three Fold over the top of the bag and pin where the button needs to go under the loop. Stitch the button securely in place.

Finishing offMaking a lunch bag - step 6.jpg

Step one Finally, press the bottom of your bag into a lunch box shape by ironing a horizontal crease from each bottom corner to corner for both sides of the bag.

Refashion jeans ideasDon’t forget to check out the rest of our The Refashioners 2016 projects for more easy denim upcycling ideas, and tag your makes with #simplysewingmag and #therefashioners2016