Thursday, May 30, 2013

Waterproof Reusable Snack Bags {A Tutorial}

I have been planning for our summer vacation, with an attempt at making our trip a little easier. Today, I have made waterproof reusable snack bags.
I made these bags with an amazing product I was lucky enough to find on a trip to the store. It is called Iron-On Vinyl, and it's from the popular brand, Heat 'N Bond. Therm-O-Web makes this product and I absolutely love it! I bought mine at Wal-Mart by the yard, but the 2 yard pack from Therm-O-Web would have been perfect for the amount of bags I made.
I don't have to say much about these bags. Because, well, they're awesome. You fill 'em up. They empty 'em. You wipe 'em out. And then repeat!
And since they take just a small amount of fabric and a short amount of time, you can whip up a bunch easily. I made a half dozen, so that both my son and daughter had three each. 
Want to make some of your own?
Let's get started.

* 2 pieces of 7.5" x 16" fabric [1 piece for outer and 1 for liner]
* 2 pieces of 7.5" x 16" Iron-On Vinyl [1 piece for outer and 1 for liner]
NOTE: 1 yard of Iron-On Vinyl is enough to make 3 bags
* Office Binder Clips or Pins
* Coordinating Thread
* 4"-5" piece of Velcro
* Ruler
To begin, I'd like to give you some tips on how I fused the vinyl to my fabric. I started with 100% cotton fabric. I pre-washed and dried the fabric. This is so important. You don't want to worry about possible shrinkage after your project is finished.
Next, I ironed my fabric nice and flat. Then, I cut out the size I needed from the vinyl BEFORE I cut any of my fabric. The vinyl has some stickiness to it, but it is completely movable before fusing. So if you make a mistake when you place it on the fabric, it's super easy to move it and start over. Basically, this stuff is amazing. It rocks. Period.
To fuse, carefully follow the instructions that come with your Iron-On Vinyl. Peel off the paper backing from the vinyl and place it where desired on the fabric. After positioning the vinyl onto your uncut fabric, you'll place the paper backing on top. Make sure to not to touch your iron directly to the vinyl, or it will melt. The paper backing protects from this.
Iron the vinyl to your fabric, in sections, for 8 minutes each. After the area has cooled slightly, remove the backing paper and cut the fabric around the vinyl to be the same size. It's much easier to do it this way, instead of cutting your fabric first. This way, you're not struggling to make sure your vinyl is placed perfectly on your cut fabric.
This is one piece of my newly waterproofed fabric. It's so awesome.
I feel like I have an oilcloth factory in my own home! If you shop for fabric often, you know that oilcloth is not cheap. And the Iron-On Vinyl really comes close to oilcloth, with its waterproof properties. Plus, you can use just about ANY fabric, instead of choosing from a limited selection of oilcloth prints.
As you can see in the photo, I have sewn one side of the Velcro strip to this outer piece of fabric, 3/4" from the edge. Then, I sewed the other side of the Velcro strip to the lining piece of fabric, also 3/4" from the edge.
HERE'S A TIP: I like to sew the soft (not scratchy) strip of Velcro to the lining piece of fabric. This way, little arms aren't scratched when they reach in to the bag.
For a cute label, I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out the word "snacks" in heat transfer vinyl. You can iron the label directly onto your fabric, or you can iron it on after you have fused your Iron-On Vinyl. I think it's easier to do it this way, as long as you place the paper backing on top again, to protect everything from the heat of your iron. I placed mine about 4" from the top edge.
 Now, we'll start by lining up our outer and lining pieces RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER. Make sure that the Velcro strips are on opposite ends.
 You can pin these together if you wish, but I wanted to minimize the amount of holes poked into my vinyl-coated fabric. I used office binder clips to hold the pieces together. They work great, and can be removed/repositioned easily.
 Next we'll sew the outer and lining pieces together. Start at the "bottom," which is the opposite end of the Velcro on the outer piece. Note that you will be on the same end of the Velcro on the lining piece.
Use a 1/4" seam allowance, here. Make sure to back stitch at the beginning AND end, and leave a 4" gap for turning your piece right-side out, later on. You can see the gab I left open at the bottom of this photo. Clip your corners, being careful not to clip into your stitches.
 Then, to turn the bag right-side out, reach in and use a non-sharp object to help push the corners in. This will help them look nice and professional. 
 Finish pulling the bag right-side out and push all four corners out. I like to use one of my trusty crochet hooks.
 At this point, you'll want to "finger fold" all four edges of the bag flat. The stitches will tend to "sink" in, so you'll want to work them out to the edge and fold the edges flat with your fingers. Pull out your iron again, and place the vinyl backing paper on top of the bag. Carefully iron the entire bag. This will make a huge difference in the look of your finished product.
You can see how much nicer the bag looks after it has been ironed flat.
 Next, we will close up the hole left open for turning. Using a 1/8" seam allowance, sew a line across the short end of the bag. This is what I have been referring to as the "bottom."
 Now that you have turned the bag right-side out, you'll be sewing onto the vinyl side. Don't be intimidated if you can't get the fabric to move through your machine easily. I have worked with vinyl before, and find that if you work slowly and don't get discouraged, you can do it. Another helpful tip is to stick a small piece of tape to the underside of your sewing foot. I typically use regular, clear tape, but only had freezer tape around me today. The tape should help the vinyl glide smoothly through the machine.
 If the tape trick doesn't work for you, just remember to take it slow. Hold on to both ends of your thread when you begin, and gently tug to get the fabric going. And always remember to back stitch at the beginning and end, so that your stitches don't come out.
The final step is to turn your rectangle into a bag. Fold your long rectangle so that your Velcro pieces line up together.
Press the bag flat with your hands. DON'T IRON IT ONCE FOLDED TOGETHER. You will cause the vinyl to stick to itself, or possibly melt. Then, sew a line up each side with a 1/8" seam allowance.
And voila! You have an adorable new, waterproof and reusable snack bag!
Wasn't that easy?!?
I hope you love the project, and please try it! I promise you won't be disappointed! And as always, if you want to share a project you have made using this tutorial, I'd love to see it! You can email me photos at or link up a post you've written in the comments below.

Happy Creating!

♥ Amanda


  1. Found you through Pinterest!
    Just wanted to let you know that I have read a bunch of snack bag tutorials today and this one is my Favorite! I’m gonna make a bunch soon!
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Iron on vinyl isn’t food safe . It’s one of the worst plastics to use . But I love the tutorial very simple !

  3. I love your directions. Are you able to wash these bags in the washing machine?

  4. Pack your belongings for your next trip with our fish dry bag! Simply place your belongings inside the bag, roll up the tail seven times, strap the bag securely onto your boat and off you go!

  5. So, my question is, if the vinyl is sewn/ironed on between the fabrics, its not really "touching" the food, so is it still considered not food safe? So many of our "plastics" (zip lock bags, saran wraps, etc) touch our foods, and we believe it to be safe. Even oilcloth fabric says its not food safe, so what do you use???? Love this bag, and your instructions! Would love to make a bunch, just concerned/confused by the comments about the vinyl!