Chubby Lunch Tote – Free Sewing Pattern!


Sew the perfect lunch box with this free lunch bag pattern! This fabric lunch box is made with insulated batting so your it will keep your food warm or cold. Naturally, it isn’t just for lunch or snacks – it also makes a sweet little purse. Use it to inside a suitcase for special items like makeup or toiletries.

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 PDF download for $2 is totally optional.

The finished dimensions of this tote are approximately 7” tall (not including the handles), 8” wide, and 6” deep (front to back). It’s a great size to carry your lunch so I’m calling it the ‘Chubby Lunch Tote,’ but that doesn’t mean that it has to be a lunch bag. You can just as easily substitute fusible fleece for the insulated batting and use it as a small purse or zippered container.

And here’s one thing I’m sure lots of readers will be happy to hear: the pattern is Fat Quarter Friendly! Unless your fabric is directional, that is (with a print that runs up/down or left/right and you don’t want to mix it up).

I know you can’t wait… so let’s get right to the tutorial…

Chubby Lunch Tote Free Lunch Bag Pattern

You will need:

  • 1 FQ (non-directional fabric) or 1/3 yard of cotton fabric (cut the traditional way) for the exterior

  • 1 FQ (non-directional fabric) or 1/3 yard of cotton fabric (cut the traditional way) for the lining

  • a 8” x 12” piece of fabric for the handles

  • 1 zipper 12” or longer

  • 1/2 yard Insulbright insulated batting or 1 yard fusible fleece

  • Quilt basting spray (such as SpraynBaste or 505 – optional)

  • 2 yards of bias tape for finishing the inside seams (optional – you can also serge or zig-zag stitch over the seams). Narrow or 1/2” wide double fold bias tape may be used. See my video showing how to make continuous bias trim.



From exterior fabric, cut:

  • 2 rectangles 7 1/2” x 11” for the front and back

  • 1 rectangle 6 3/4” x 8 3/4” for the tote bottom

  • 2 rectangles 5” x 4 1/2” for the sides

  • 2 strips 2 1/4” x 11 1/2” for the zipper panels

From lining fabric, cut:

  • 2 rectangles 7 1/2” x 11” for the front and back

  • 1 rectangle 6 3/4” x 8 3/4” for the tote bottom

  • 2 rectangles 5” x 4 1/2” for the sides

  • 2 strips 2 1/4” x 11 1/2” for the zipper panels

From insulated batting or fusible fleece, cut:

  • 2 rectangles 7 1/2” x 11” for the front and back

  • 1 rectangle 6 3/4” x 8 3/4” for the tote bottom

  • 2 rectangles 5” x 4 1/2” for the sides

  • 2 strips 2 1/4” x 11 1/2” for the zipper panels

From the handle fabric, cut:

  • 2 rectangles 4” x 12”

All dimensions are height x width. Use the cutting diagrams above as needed. 🙂

When using basting spray, I like to work on a large piece of cardboard.

When using basting spray, I like to work on a large piece of cardboard.


1. Use the basting spray to adhere the bottom exterior to one side of the matching batting piece, and the bottom lining to the other side (making a fabric sandwich with the batting in the middle).

If you are using fusible fleece instead of insulated batting, you can fuse one side but you will still need to use the basting spray to adhere the other side.

Note: If you don’t want to use basting spray, you can sandwich the layers together and pin, and then baste around all of the edges with a long stitch on your sewing machine 1/4” from the edge.

2. Make fabric and batting sandwiches and spray baste (or fuse, or machine baste) the front and back pieces to both sides of the matching batting, as well.

3. For the zipper panels and the side pieces, attach the batting to the exterior pieces only.

This is what you should have so far:

  • 2 fabric/batting sandwiches for the front and back

  • 1 fabric/batting sandwich for the tote bottom

  • 2 side exterior pieces with batting attached

  • 2 side lining pieces

  • 2 zipper panel exterior strips with batting attached

  • 2 zipper panel lining strips

(plus 2 handle pieces – not shown)

Make the zipper panel:

1. Lay 1 zipper panel exterior piece right side up. Center the zipper along the top edge, right side down.

2. Lay a zipper panel lining piece over it right side down. align the top edges and pin.

3. Attach the zipper foot to your sewing machine and sew along the top edge with a 1/4” seam allowance.

4. Gently press the exterior and lining pieces away from the zipper and topstitch on the zipper panel piece close to the edge.

5. Lay the zipper face down against the remaining exterior zipper panel piece, aligning the unsewn zipper tape with the top edge. Lay the remaining zipper panel lining piece on top and pin as shown above.

6. Stitch along the top edge with a 1/4” seam allowance. Gently press the exterior and lining pieces away from the lining and topstitch as before.


Attach the side pieces:

1. Trim away the extra zipper tapes at either end of the zipper.

2. Place 1 side exterior piece right side up. Lay one end of the zipper panel over it, aligning the top 4 1/2” edge of the side piece with a 4 1/2” wide end of the zipper panel. Right sides should be together.

3. Place a side lining piece on top, lining up a 4 1/2” edge at the top. The lining pieces should be right sides together. Pin.

Note: Use a 3/8” seam allowance from now on, unless otherwise stated.

4. Stitch across the pinned edge. Fold the side pieces wrong sides together away from the zipper panel and gently press. Topstitch close to the edge of the exterior side piece.

5. Attach the remaining side pieces to the opposite end of the zipper panel in the same way. Topstitch.

Make and attach the handles:

1. Fold a 4” x 12” handle strip in half lengthwise and press. Open and fold the long edges almost to the center, press. Fold in half again.

2. Topstitch along both long edges. Repeat for the other handle.

3. Pin a handle to the top edge of the front piece. The edges of the handle should be 1 1/2” away from the side edges of the front piece. Stitch the ends of the handle in place 1/4” away from the edge.

4. Fold the side edges of the front piece over the ends of the handle. Pin at the top. (top left image)

5. Start sewing at the fold and sew for 1” with a 3/8” seam allowance. There should be about 3/8” left unsewn before the raw edge. (top right image)

Repeat steps 1-5 above with the other handle and the back piece of the tote.

Oops! This tutorial has gotten too long! I have to continue this lunch bag pattern in another blog post so the pages won’t take too long to load.


Click here for the Chubby Lunch Tote Free Sewing Pattern – Part 2.

Happy Sewing!

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Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂

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  1. Carolyn Wainscott says:

    love this, thank you so much for sharing

  2. I made this lunch tote for my daughter for Easter and she loves it. I plan on making 2 more for my other kids and maybe a few as gifts. Thank you so much for the time you put into this project and sharing it for FREE! Thank you!

  3. Wow! Really attractive and fun-looking!

  4. This bag looks so goood! I will try to sew it with my daughter but i cannot manage to print the pattern, is it possible to get the measurements in centimeter please?

    1. HI Verona – in case no one has let you know since you wrote in quite a few months ago, to convert inches to centimeters, multiply the inches by 2.5. (So 2 inches would be 5 centimeters).

  5. how do i get just the sewing pattern all i seem to be getting is the instructions only

  6. Great tutuorials – just wondering what sewing machine you use? Am in the market for one that will handle heavier layers to make bags. My current machine has a tendency to jam up and break thread when going through too much bulk. Thank you

    1. Hi Dianne! I love my Juki TL-2010Q for heavy fabrics, lots of layers, and quilting. My Janome 14,000 does very well too. 🙂

    2. Juki 2010TL , GREAT FOR THICK FABRIC.

  7. [object Object] says:

    Do you think you could use insulbrite instead of the insulated batting it’s pretty similar?

  8. [object Object] says:

    OK so call me silly I obviously didn’t read this clearly. lol. It’s the summer heat

  9. What typeography fabric are you using in the tutorial!? I love it!

  10. I want to print the pattern. I do not care to sit with my laptop open so that I can see the pattern. I would pay for the pattern, but you don’t even make that option available: so, to me, you are useless.

    1. I’m sorry for your frustration. I have hired an assistant to help me convert my blog posts to PDF files. I will move this one to the top of the list. 🙂

    2. kevthekelt says:

      She’s far from useless, you are so ungrateful !

    3. That is rude. You are able to print a page from the internet if you choose.

    4. WOW !! that is about as rude as a person can be !!
      This is ADORABLE Caroline !! Thank u for sharing your talents for all of your USEFUL projects ❤️

  11. Kimberly Spurgeo says:

    Caroline, this is adorable! Thank you so much for sharing this. You are amazing, not "useless" by any definition!! Thank you for going to the work of providing this to all of us. <3

  12. The best! Thank you so much for this!

  13. This comes out really cute! I’ve been using it as a lunchbox for a while now and it’s perfect!

  14. Such a cute bag! Why can’t I find the pattern for FREE?

    1. Hi Anita,
      No printable template is required for this pattern. All of the information is in the blog post above.

  15. I made this for both my daughter and son this year. One was Smaug zag the other totally serged. I like the serged much better. This was easier than I thought it would be. Thank you

  16. Teresa Allen says:

    I love this bag. I’m needing to make one bigger to use as a tool bag for drills and such. How would I go about doing that? Thank you for all the great patterns you post.
    Thank you,
    Teresa Allen

  17. Just finished my first. Won’t be my last. My teen granddaughter will be using it for cosmetics and nail polish. Thanks so much for the pattern!

  18. Such a cute bag! Just made one. I suggest adding tabs at the ends of the zipper to make it easier to open. Just tuck them in as you sew the 4 1/2″ x 5″ rectangle to the zipper piece. Thanks!

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