I work in an office two nights a week, and until now had been packing lunch in a plastic grocery sack because my insulated lunch box was too small for a frozen dinner. Plastic grocery sacks are an unsatisfying lunch transport system for many reasons: they are bad for the environment when they inevitably end up in the trash (even if you reuse them many times); they are flimsy and tear easily; and they are ugly as sin.
However, they are roomy and accommodating. So I decided the perfect lunch bag for me would be a plastic grocery sack that wasn’t plastic.
This is how I made it. I am assuming some rudimentary sewing and bag-making knowledge. (You know: Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of your seams, press your seams open, maintain a better tension than I obviously did, etc.)
You will need probably about a 1/2-yard each of exterior and lining fabric. The bag I used as a template was about 18” wide by 18” tall.
First, take a plastic shopping bag and cut across the top of the handles and across the bottom. Spread it out on the floor; this will be your template.
Next, take your exterior fabric. Fold it selvage to selvage, wrong side out. Place the plastic bag on the fold. Trace around it. The tracing line will be your sewing line. (I love this trick; I got it from Bend The Rules Sewing.) Leave a little room to the left and right of your bag for seam allowance.
Keeping the fabric folded, I turned it over and traced the template on the other wrong side too, making sure the two were matched up where the side seams would meet. Unfold this to get a very tall vertical rectangle.
Take your exterior fabric, which is unfolded and with the wrong side facing up and sewing line visible, and place it on top of the lining fabric, right sides together. Sew all along the sewing line, leaving about 4” for turning.
Boy, that stitching tension is looking … pretty bad. Anyway. Next, trim to about 1/4” away from the stitching line. Trim across the seam allowance at each corner and clip notches into the seam allowance at curves, but do not cut across the stitching line.
Turn the bag inside out through the 4” hole you left. Using a point turner or a chopstick, poke out the corners.
Press flat. Fold in half, matching edges, and stitch the sides up to the bottom of the handle. Stitch across the top of the handles.
To better mimic a grocery bag, I folded the handles in half, bringing the outside edge toward the inner edge and stitching on either side of the seam line. This photo shows the right handle.
You could also fold in the bottom edge and sew this down.
The finished object. I can answer questions in the comments. (I’m all right at sewing, but telling someone else how to do it is hard!)