Even though we may be only doing this for a few more months, it’s better late than never to reduce waste. Plus, I sometimes can’t tell if the utensils are dirty or clean. A few weeks ago I could have sworn the utensils in my bag were clean but once at the restaurant I opened the bag and EEEEW!
So to cut down on the waste and so I know at a glance if they’re clean or not, I made these reversible and reusable clean/dirty bags to carry our utensils. The bags are simply made of cotton fabric. These particular ones are from my mom’s stash that she’s had since the 80s. In fact, I remember making a summer top from the fish fabric when I was in high school. And I think we used the light blue fabric to make clothes for handmade stuffed animals. I made the labels using fabric paint and stamps, and the bag closes with an elastic loop and button. It closes in the same manner when you reverse it. Here’s how I made them!
For the bag:
- Two pieces of dark fabric and two pieces of light fabric, cut to 7×7 inches each. It’s not necessary to use dark and light, but I’ll explain my reasoning later.
- Two buttons
- A piece of thin elastic, or in my case I reused an old hair elastic.
For the labels:
- Light colored fabric
- Fabric paint
- Letter stamps
- Scrap of felt and an old plastic lid to hold the paint
- Rotary cutter, straight edge and self-healing mat
- Sewing machine, needle and thread
Directions: First we’ll start with the stamped labels. Squirt some fabric paint onto the felt scrap and squish it around to spread it out. Press the stamp lightly and blot.
I want the resulting labels to be approximately 1×3 inches. So I started stamping about 3/4 inches from the side of the fabric and 3/8 inches down from the top. Leave about 1.5 inches in between and stamp the next word. Using this particular scrap of fabric, I could fit 3 across. Allow to dry for 4 hours, and you can wash after 72 hours. Then, just cut them out with a rotary cutter and you have your labels. It’s up to you if you want to fold under the edges for a cleaner look or you could even serge them. I think I’ll try this unfinished, shabby look for now.
Take one piece of the dark and light fabric and put a label on each. You’ll place it upside down, about 3/4 inches down from the top edge (you’ll be folding over the edge to close it). I put “Clean” on the dark fabric and “Dirty” on the light fabric. This is because when the utensils are dirty, they will be touching the dark fabric on the inside (in case there are any stains that won’t come out in the wash).
Now we’ll sew the bag itself. Sew the dark pieces and the light pieces, right sides together. Trim the bottom corners and turn one of them right side out.
Slip the right-side out one into the inside out one. Make sure the side with the labels are facing each other, so when closed, the label will show on the front on both sides.
Now we’ll sew the two pieces together, leaving an opening to turn (marked with the pink pins). I left the opening above the labels…this is where we will add the elastic loop as we topstitch the turning hole closed. Sew the bags together along the top edge, except for the opening.
Pull everything through the turning hole and push one bag into another. Press the seam flat.
Tuck in the elastic/ponytail holder into the turning hole. For the size of my button (1/2 inch), I also made the elastic stick out 1/2 an inch.
Top stitch around the top edge, sewing the hole closed and catching the elastic. I backstitched over it to secure.
I put in their utensils into the bag to help me figure out where to put the button i.e. how far down should I fold the top edge.
Sew on one button on the front and one immediately behind it on the inside.
And you’re done!
Hope you enjoyed the tutorial! I know that bringing utensils for your kids is a to-each-their-own sort of thing, but I’m sure if you modified them, there are lots of other ways to use these bags. Happy Earth Day!