A chic way to brown-bag it.

You will need:

  • approximately 1/2 yd. [0.5 m] plastic-vinyl coated fabric, 54″ wide [137 cm]
  • approximately 1/3 yd. [0.3 m] insulated thermal lining, 36″ wide [90 cm]
  • approximately 1/4 yd. [0.25 m] ripstop nylon, 44″ wide [112 cm]
  • 2 draw-cords, 30” long [76 cm]
  • coordinating polyester thread
  • kraft paper

Dimensions: 7” wide X 7.5” high X 5” deep [11.5 cm X 19 cm X 12.5 cm]

Construction Method: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of machine-stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag. This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, machining and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process.

Materials Used: 100% PVC fabric, 54” wide; 100% nylon ripstop, 44” wide; and reflective foil insulated thermal lining, 36” wide.


This is a simple block design. Plot and cut block layout directly onto the fabric according to the measurements given (seam allowance is NOT included); OR draft onto kraft paper for a permanent hard-copy pattern.

Click on illustration to magnify


(Note: Remember to add seam allowance to all pattern pieces.)


Body – cut 2X PVC

Bottom – cut 1X PVC

Gusset – cut 2X PVC

Top Facing – cut 2X PVC

Strap – cut 2X PVC


Insulation – cut 1X thermal fabric

Draw Cinch – cut 2X nylon


Sewing Tip: Use a large machine stitch length whenever sewing plastics to prevent perforation of the seams. Pins will leave pin-holes in the plastic so use paper clips or double-sided mounting tape to hold pieces in place while sewing seams.

Small Parts Preparation

1. Sew short ends of draw cinch together, with FACE SIDES together, leaving a 1” [25 mm]opening in the seam approximately 3” [75 mm] from start of seam. Press seams open.

Turn “loop” of fabric, FACE SIDE out and fold in half width-wise matching raw edges together. Press fold flat.

Stitch a draw-cord casing 1” [25 mm] from folded edge. Set aside.

2. Make 2 bag straps. Lightly score the length of each strap piece through its center with an awl. (Do not try to press a fold as the hot iron will melt the PVC fabric.) Fold the raw edge of the length inward to the center of the strap and flatten fold with a rubber mallet.  Top-stitch along its length, with fabric FACE UP. Set aside.

3. Attach pocket to gusset. Begin by scoring upper edge of pocket by 1/4” [6 mm] then, turn under upper edge and flatten fold . Top-stitching across fold, with fabric FACE UP.

Layer pocket on top of one gusset piece. Align and match raw edges and baste to 3 sides of the perimeter. Set aside.

4. Make top facing. With FACE SIDES together, sew short ends of top facing together. Flatten seams open. Set aside.

Lining Preparation

5. Fold insulated fabric in half with the reflective surfaces facing together. Sew up the side seams. Press seams open.

Align and match each side seam in the center of the bottom seam. Sew across bottom edges to create a mitred corner on each side.

Align and match raw edge of draw cinch to top edge of thermal lining, with FACE SIDES together (on the draw cinch, the side with the open slits should face upward). Sew draw cinch to lining.

With FACE SIDES together, align and match top facing to lining with draw cinch sandwiched in between both layers. From inside the lining, edge-stitch along the top on the thermal insulation securing all the layers together. Set aside.

Shell Preparation

6. Attach front and back of body to its bottom, along the width. Press seam allowances towards the center of the bottom piece. With fabric FACE UP, top-stitch along seam on either side of bottom piece.

With FACE SIDES together, align and match gussets to body by wrapping the body portion to 3 sides of the gusset pieces. Stitch together and trim seam allowances. Turn bag right-side-out.

Fold along the seams of the gussets and gently flatten the edges with a rubber mallet.  Top-stitch close to edge of seams to reinforce (see French seam).

Bag Assembly

7. Attach a strap on front and back of body with a spread of 4” [10 cm] on center (this is applied up-side-down).

8. Score and flatten upper edges of the top facing and the bag opening. Drop in lining portion into the bag and turn under upper edges of bag and the top facing. Align and match top facing to body of bag, ensuring ends of bag straps are tucked into the seam. Edge-stitch around the bag opening.


9. Thread a draw-cord through each side opening on the draw cinch and knot cord-ends together.

Design Tip: Double the width and height dimensions for the bag and swap the thermal insulation for a velvety velour plush to create a chic shoe tote for those rainy days when you need to wear your wellies to the office.


Filed under Design Ideas

17 responses to “CHIC LUNCH TOTE

  1. Chic indeed – very kate spade!

  2. What a great bag! Thank you so much for the tutorial, I can’t wait to make one up.

  3. Wow!! That is definitely going on my to do list. You come up with the best ideas. 🙂

  4. Suntory

    I kept checking this site over the past month or so, and I’m very happy to find another great and practical pattern today.

    Very informative as usual. Thanks!

  5. jos

    LOVE it! Thank you

  6. Tracy

    No one will ever guess this is a lunch bag
    until I pull out the pbj! Really love this project!

  7. Wow! awesome,. Thanks for the great information, very helpful and informative. Thank you for the sharing of information.^^

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  9. Love everything you do. Brilliant.

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  12. I think this is one of the cutest lunch totes I’ve seen as a diy. I included it in my post of diy lunch bags and totes here:

  13. SLG

    I love this style, but would like to make it into an everyday full size ladies tote. It I just double the measurements or magnify the pattern, will it still work?

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