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Back to School: Lunchtime Sewing

August 9, 2008

  The main problem I’m finding with making something for my kids that lasts year after year is that I have to start thinking of other things to make for them, because I do love sewing things for them that they will actually use.  So while the lunchbags I made for them 2 years ago are still holding up well (used in alternation with their metal lunchboxes from Noni), I was ready to do a little back to school sewing.  Lucky for me there is more I can supply them with!

About a year and half ago, when my son was attending a coop preschool, I was helping the children during their snack time on my workday for that week.  One little girl had the most adorable placemat and napkin in her handmade lunch bag.  Really, I was drooling over it.  I sat with her a couple times over the next couple weeks so I could look at it closely (fortunately four year olds aren’t that concerned by adults inspecting their lunch gear).  It wasn’t complicated, but perfect.

Later in the year I got to know the mother of that child (no, not just to get a pattern from her) and a couple sewing conversations later she turned me on to Japanese craft books, which were the inspiration for her lunch time crafting.  While I haven’t been able to get my hands on the craft book she had, I have taken a first stab at replicating her nifty idea– perfect for my kids’ snack time, which is eaten in their classrooms.

I have only completed my daughter’s, but some for my son, and a couple more for her will follow.  They are a two sided placemat, with a sewn on pocket to hold her utensils and napkin.  It folds up to fit in her lunch bag, or box, and hopefully will have a snap or tie to keep it closed (although I haven’t gotten there yet, and not sure it is neccesary).  Although I am not a germ-phobe, it is nice to know they can eat their snack off this instead of their desk.  I also like that it will keep their utensils in one spot so I don’t have to root around their lunchbags for the sticky spoons.

Lunchmat Tutorial! (let me know if you use this tutorial if I can improve it in any way by leaving a comment)

If you would like to make your own you can follow these easy directions, or make it up as you go along.

1. Cut two rectangles from coordinating fabrics approximately 14 x 12 inches or 14 x 10 (or what ever size suits you!)  At this point decide which fabric will be on the outside, and which fabric will be on the inside (where the pocket is); consider them fabric A and B respectively. Cut an additional small square from fabric A- approximately 4 x 4 inches.  Cut another square from either fabric, or for a two sided napkin, 2 squares; I made my napkins approximately 6 x 6, but anything up to about 8 x 8 would work.

2. Iron the pocket square (square cut out of fabric A) folding over the edges on all for sides to create hemmed edges.  Sew the top edge, leaving the others creased, but not sewn.  

3. Pin it to fabric B about 3/4 of an inch from the bottom (raw edge) and 1 3/4 inches from the right (raw) edge; be sure to have the sewn edge on the top edge of the pocket.  Starting at the top sew the two sides and bottom of the pocket to the fabric B rectangle.

4.  Pin right sides together (pocket will be on the inside) of fabric rectangles A and B.  Sew all around the rectangle leaving a small gap (maybe 2 inches).  Inside out, pulling the fabric through the gap.  Iron.  Top stitch around all for edges closing the gap as you do.

5.  Serge, or hem the edges of the napkin (or make a double sided napkin in the same fashion as the placemat).  Fold the napkin and place in the pocket.  Find the best way to fold your lunch kit.  I fold mine in half longways (top comes down to bottom)- and then do a rolling fold.  Iron it when it is folded to your liking to help it keep the folding creases.

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