Button Lunch Bags

In The Great Gatsby Jordan Baker assures Daisy that “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” I couldn’t agree more! This time of year always feels like a new beginning to me, a good time to make small resolutions. This year I’m vowing to stop buying takeout sandwiches for lunch and to start making them, and so I made these simple Button Lunch Bags to get me started!


Sewn up in sturdy, washable cotton fabric, each bag is finished off with a sweet little button to keep your sandwich safe. These sacks are so pretty, in fact, you might want to use them for more than lunch!


To figure out what to pack in our Button Lunch Bags we turned to our friends Frances Boswell and Dana Gallagher and their great new blog, Kitchen Repertoire. Chock-full of delicious lunch (and breakfast, dinner and dessert) ideas, Kitchen Repertoire aspires to make cooking (and eating!) joyful with recipes that are approachable, unfussy, and very tasty. Even if you can’t boil water, Dana Gallagher’s photographs are so mouth-watering you’ll feel compelled to learn! We’re so excited that Dana took these beautiful pictures and that Frances has cooked up some lovely back to school lunch recipes to go with our lovely new Button Lunch Bags… find these lovely lunch recipes right here on Kitchen Repertoire today!

Happy fall and happy lunch! -Molly



To make one Button Lunch Bag you will need…

  • ½ yard of sturdy fabric. I used Robert Kaufman’s Denim- 8 oz in Indigo Washed and Robert Kaufman’s Railroad Denim in Deluxe Twill Stripe Indigo.
  • A package of Captain 88’s Solid Linen Cotton Bias Tape to match your fabric. I used Navy and Natural.
  • Two 110-yard spools of Gutermann’s Cotton Thread to match your fabric and bias tape. I used colors 6210 and 1040.
  • One of Purl Soho’s Oblong Buttons. I used Fuchsia and Marine.


Finished Dimensions: 6 inches wide, 11 ½ inches tall when open, 8 ½ inches tall when closed and 4 inches deep.


Prewash and dry the fabric but not the bias tape. If your fabric is double sided like the fabrics I used, you can pick which side you’d like to be the right side and wrong side. For the example in these photos I used the lighter side as the right side.


This pattern is also available as a printer-friendly PDF. Just click here!


From the fabric cut:

  • One 11 ½ by 29-inch tall rectangle.
  • One 1 X 5-inch strip. This will be the Button Loop.

Make the Button Loop


  1. Press the 1 x 5-inch strip flat with the right side facing up.
  2. Press both of the long sides ¼ inch towards the center of the strip, right sides together.
  3. Press the two long, folded sides together, thus encasing the raw edges. Pin the two long sides together.
  4. Edgestitch the two folded edges together and cut the strip to 2 ¾-inches long.



Fold the large rectangle in half lengthwise so that a middle crease runs the long way down the center of the rectangle (highlighted in pink in the photo above).

Fold one of the short sides of the rectangle over ½-inch twice towards the right side and press and pin the fold down.

Pin the raw ends of the Button Loop under the fold so that the ends are at either side of the center crease. Here is a more close-up shot….


Make sure that the Button Loop isn’t twisted and that both sides are lying flat under the fold and are meeting at the center crease.

Edgestitch this fold down, thus sewing the Button Loop in place.


Press the Button Loop upwards, away from the fabric, and pin it in this new orientation.

Sew over the Button Loop, along the path of the previous seam. Go forwards and backwards a few times in order to really secure the Loop in place.

Hem the second short side of the rectangle in the same way but without the Button Loop: Fold the edge over ½ inch twice towards the right side, press and edgestitch the fold down.


Now press the piece in half, right sides together, so that the hemmed edges meet up. Pin in place along the two long sides.

Sew the two long raw sides together with a ½-inch seam allowance.

Orient the bag so that the opening is at the top, the fold is at the bottom and the raw edges of the fabric are at the left and right.



Pin the bias tape around both of these raw left and right sides. Start at the top, tucking the end of the bias tape under itself so that no raw bias tape edges show, then pin the bias tape along the length of the edge. Don’t worry about tucking the ends of the bias tape at the bottom of the edge; just trim the tape flush with the end of the seam.

Edgestitch this bias tape into place, making sure to catch both sides as you sew.

Make the Boxed Bottom


With the wrong side still facing out, pull the two layers of fabric away from the corners and away from each other until the bottom forms a diamond shape with the bottom fold (represented in gray, above) going straight down the center.

Mark a line at each corner perpendicular to the center fold, 2 inches away from the corner and 4 inches across (represented as pink lines, above).

Pin the two layers of fabric together along these 4-inch long markings, making sure that the fabric isn’t bunched up or gathered and that the bias tape covered seams are lying flat.


Sew over these markings and then cut off the corners, leaving a ½-inch seam allowance.

First, press the bias-taped side seams over to one side. Then, pin the bias tape over the two 4-inch raw edges, making sure the unfinished ends of the side seams get pinned inside the bias tape. Trim the bias tape so it is a little longer than the 4-inch sides and tuck the ends of the tape inside so that no raw edges are showing.

Edgestitch the bias tape into place, making sure you catch both sides as you sew.



Turn the bag right sides out. On the side of the bag without the Button Loop, mark a spot 5 inches below the top edge and 5 ¼ inches from either side seam. Sew on the button here.


Press the bag into a lunch bag shape by pressing a vertical crease up from each bottom corner to the top of the bag. Then press a horizontal crease from each bottom corner to the next bottom corner.

Bon Appetite!


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10 Responses to Button Lunch Bags

  1. Cristie says:

    Too cute!

  2. Michelle B says:

    Great simple bag tut to use up some scrap fabric and single buttons – Thank you!

  3. Solange says:

    Thank you for the pattern–I love it’s joyful simplicity! Have you ever thought of making those little fabric snack bags? I have wanted to for years but cannot find the easy to wipe down, almost laminated food-safe fabric that I see used in the commercial ones. Any ideas?

    • Molly from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Solange-

      That’s a great idea! We don’t currently carry any laminated fabric that would be appropriate but if we ever do we will surely keep this in mind. You might try searching online for “oilcloth” if you’d like to give it a try yourself.


    • Anne says:

      I have also been researching this food bag idea and found that it’s not all that straightforward to source food-safe laminated fabrics for making your own food bags. My understanding is that oilcloth is not considered all that ‘food safe’ for this use, although it’s fantastic for other non-food related projects. It would seem that it pays to tread a bit cautiously when hunting out laminated fabrics to use for food bags. Good luck, Solange, and I’d love to hear if you manage to source suitable fabric!

  4. angelica mantellatto says:

    amo tudo q vcs fazem, muito bom gosto. parabéns! obrigada pelas idéias.

  5. Wiebke Friedrich says:

    I made similar snack bags using coffee packaging. I simply doubled the fabric with the material from the packaging ( metal coated plastic, very sturdy and food proof at the same time!). Rice bags (Tilda, for example) also worked well. Sometimes you can use the packaging as it is, if it is a good size and cut, and line the fabric bag with it. Simply put the two together and close the top rim with a strip of diagonally cut of fabric, like shown above.

  6. Christina B. says:

    Wow! Schöne Dinge können durchaus nützlich sein. Was für ein tolles Design!

  7. Marie-Cécile Chassaing says:

    Thank you! Merci beaucoup pour toutes ces choses simples et élégantes dont vous nous faites si gentiment profiter.

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