Sew up a retro-style lunchbox in the shape of a toaster. This free sewing pattern includes instructions for using insulated batting and a lace cutwork zipper. Alternatively, you could use quilt batting and a regular zipper if you prefer.
This post is a paid tutorial for Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. They provided the cute fabric and compensated me for writing this free pattern for YOU!
When Jo-Ann contacted me about writing a sewing tutorial using their new personalized fabric, I only had to look at the amazingly adorable fabric selection to know what I would make… a sweet lunchbox for my daughter Cadie. She has been asking me to sew her a new lunchbox for a while, and this one will never get stuck at the bottom of the school lost-and-found bucket because it has her name printed all over it!
This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The blog post below is totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The Optimized for Printing PDF download for $3 is totally optional. Of course, if you already own my PDF library of Optimized for Printing files, you can find it there, too.
I had lots of fun with this rounded shape and straight line quilting to give it a vintage feel. The lunch box has three layers… the Cutie Pie Kitty and Puppy Eco Canvas outer layer, some InsulBright batting to insulate the food, and then I used white PUL on the inside so it would easily wipe off.
I also used a sweet lace cutwork zipper for the opening. And guess what??? It is totally easy to sew on.
Are you ready to make a Toaster Lunchbox? Let’s get sewing!
Toaster Lunchbox Sewing Tutorial
You will need:
1 yard durable fabric for the lunchbox exterior (less if your fabric is not directional like mine)
1/2 yard InsulBright insulated batting
1/2 yard PUL for a wipe-off interior, or other interior fabric
1/4 yard fabric for the handles, if different
1 lace cutwork zipper, 22” long
2 yards of wide double fold bias binding (ready-made or DIY)
SpraynBaste quilt basting spray (optional)
fabric marking tools
(all of these notions and supplies can be found at joann.com)
From the exterior fabric, cut:
1 rectangle 20” x 11”
2 rectangles 4” x 24”
From the insulated batting, cut:
1 rectangle 20” x 11”
2 strips 1 3/4” x 24”
2 strips 1 1/2” x 11” for the handles (you could use other batting scraps for this, they don’t have to be insulated)
From the PUL or other interior fabric, cut:
1 rectangle 20” x 11”
From the handle fabric, cut:
2 rectangles 6” x 11”
Quilting your layers together is optional, but I think it adds to the cute retro vibe of this DIY Lunch box. If you decide to skip the easy straight line quilting, then I suggest layering all three fabrics as shown 3 photos down and basting them together with quilt basting spray or machine basting 1/4” from the edge.
To quilt your lunchbox layers together, baste the insulated batting to the wrong side of the exterior piece using the quilt basting spray, or pin together about every 4 inches.
Use a fabric marking pencil or pen to draw lines across the piece at a 45 degree angle. My lines are 3” apart.
Use a medium stitch length to sew along all of the lines. I used a walking foot (or even feed foot) to help keep my layers from slipping.
After one set of lines is done, turn your piece and draw straight lines in the opposite direction. Quilt along those lines too.
Use the basting spray to adhere the wrong side of the PUL to the back of the quilted piece. I added the PUL after my quilting was done because I did not want to puncture holes in the water-resistant PUL.
Use a bowl with a diameter of about 6” or a ruler with a curved corner (like my Creative Grids 3” radius corner ruler) to round all 4 corners of the piece.
Prepare the zipper strip:
Fold each long strip of exterior fabric in half lengthwise and press. Insert a 1 3/4” x 24” strip of insulated batting, close and press again.
Baste the strip together 1/4” from the long raw edge.
Pin one zipper tape along a folded edge on one of the strips that is folded and basted with insulated batting inside. The folded strips of fabric are a little bit longer than needed. Once your zipper is sewn in, you will trim the zipper panel to the correct length.
The holes in the lace cutwork should just cover the fabric and the zipper teeth should be at least 1/8” away from the fabric.
Stitch on top of the zipper (using a zipper foot if necessary) just to the right of the lace cutwork so that you catch the fabric underneath.
Sew the other strip of fabric/insulated batting to the remaining zipper tape in the same way. In the second picture above you can see the wrong side of my zipper strip. I sewed right along the folded edge on both sides.
Trim the zipper panel to 23 1/2”
Prepare the handles:
Press the handle pieces bias-tape style…
First fold them in half lengthwise and press. Then Fold the raw edges to the center and press.
Insert a strip of 1 1/2” x 14” batting inside one of the folds. Fold all together again and press.
Topstitch along both long edges about 1/8” from the edge. Make 2 handle pieces.
Pin and baste the handles to either end of the quilted piece. The sides of the handles should be about 3” from the long sides of the piece.
Assemble the Lunchbox:
Fold the zipper strip in half to find the center and mark the center on both the top and bottom. Find the center of the quilted piece ends (in the middle of each handle).
Place a center mark on the zipper strip against the center of one end and pin or clip the zipper strip to one end of the quilted piece wrong sides together.
I find clips easier to use when sewing curved seams like this. If you use pins, try to pin only within the 3/8” seam allowance to not poke holes in the PUL interior.
Baste the zipper strip to one end of the quilted piece with a 1/4” seam allowance. Sew with the zipper panel on the bottom.
Match the other center mark on the zipper strip with the center mark on the other end of the quilted piece. Pin or clip and baste the zipper strip to the other end of the quilted piece in the same way.
Since the strip is only basted to the quilted piece, pull back the ends of the zipper strip by about 1/4” so that they fit the opening that is left. Pin or clip the ends of the zipper strip to the approximately 4” unsewn part of the quilted piece. Stitch across this area with a 1/4” seam allowance.
Repeat on the other side of the lunchbox.
Finishing with Bias Trim:
All you have left is to pretty up the raw edges with bias trim. Since I made my own bias trim (1 3/4” wide before folding) it is not as crisp and easy to use as ready-made trim. If you are using ready-made trim, you may be able to wrap it around the edge and sew it down in one step – sweet! If that’s not possible, use my 2-step method shown…
Open one fold on the bias trim and place the raw edge (right side down) against the raw edge on the lunchbox. Choose an inconspicuous place to start and fold the end back by about 1/2”. Stitch the bias tape all the way around the lunchbox until the ends meet and overlap by about an inch, sewing in the first fold (or about 3/8” from the edge). Cut away the extra bias trim.
Wrap the bias trim around the raw edge and pin or clip in place all the way around the lunchbox. Stitch the bias trim in place about 1/8” from the edge.
Now admire your cute lunchbox! Big thanks to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores for asking to work with me on this fun project. 🙂
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