Thursday, August 22, 2013

Duct Tape Lunch Bags Tutorial

In the excitement of summer holidays approaching an end, and school shopping lists getting closer and checked off bit by bit each day, I thought I'd offer this fun activity that both acts as something to keep your kids entertained, creative, and happy for one more day of the break, while creating something unique and useful, that the munchkins will get use out of, rather than being on display.  I present to you: 

The Insulated Duct Tape Lunch Bag!

 So, I was looking for a way to use some of the super amazing new patterns of Duck Brand Tape that we sell where I work.  Originally, I was just going to duct tape over a couple of the girls' old lunch bags, but then I figured; "Hey! I can sew, I can make things outta duct tape, SOMEONE on the interweb has to have made a lunch bag out of duct tape before, and put up a tutorial?  Turns out Nope.  So, after some researching on other types of hand-made lunch bags, and doing some material-choice substitutions, THIS is what I came up with.  I was so impressed with the outcome, that I decided to do a tutorial on how they're made, so that you too, can enjoy this fun alternative to a store-bought lunch bag.

 Materials You Will Need:

Tools you will need...

  • Duct Tape, in whatever colours you like.  You can probably do the whole thing in one roll of 9.1m Tape, but there are so many fun styles and patterns out there, I doubt you will be able to buy just one!
  • Foiled Windshield Screen/Visor from the dollar store - the ones that accordion closed and are Styrofoam and reflective foil.  These ones were $1.50 each. This is the insulation and inside wall of your lunch bag.
  • Large piece of paper (I'm using that brown roll of paper, it's huge, and designed for protecting floors during construction)
  • a ruler, pencil and pen, scissors
  • a front fastener - I used plastic snaps because I have a snap press, but Velcro or sewn on buttons/snaps would work too
  • some of your regular lunch containers and beverage containers to make sure you're making your lunch bag big enough to hold them! 
The Process:
Template - see end of post for scale drawing
  •  Use the Large Paper to draw yourself a template (in pencil so you can erase mistakes instead of starting over).  Make sure to place your lunch containers against the various "walls" of your bag, to ensure proper fit.  I made mine a rectangular prism - as such: 

This is a flattened 3-D shape, like we did in elementary school geography.. The base centered, with the back, front, and two sides attached to the base.  I made my base 13cm X 22cm, the back and front 22cm X 23cm, and the sides 13cm X 23cm.
I made the top and front flap as one separate piece, because making it all as one piece would not have fit on my window reflector - I taped them together afterward.  You can see here the cross shape of the template, with the base in the centre, and the 4 sides.  The lid/flap is the piece to the side, already partly cut out - I made it 22cm X 22cm - size enough to cover the top and fold over the front to fasten.  Label each square so that you know what is what.
No seam Allowance! Cut right on the lines.
  • Cut out the template right on the line.  Because this isn't being sewn, we don't need to have a seam allowance!  Don't cut the lines where the sides meet the base - those are folding lines.  The fewer pieces to attach together, the easier this project is.  
  • Fold up your template, and make sure all of your lines meet up where they should.  Put your top where it would go, make sure where it would fasten to the back "wall" is even as well, and folds over nicely.  Adjust your template until you are sure you are happy with it before continuing to the next step.

The Helpers!

  • Trace your template onto the "wrong" side of your insulation piece (the sun visor).  Mine was foil on one side, and just plain white foam on the other, so I used ball-point pen, so it wouldn't rip or smudge all over the foam.  Cut it out, just like the paper, and fold to make sure all of your seams and edges line up where they should.

  • If you did this using the same template as me, you should now have a very shiny X shape, and another little piece as the lid.
  • Now comes the taping - the fun part!  Fold your sides and backs up, and tape them in place with small bits of duct tape near the top open edges of the bag, so that the bag sort of holds it's shape (image A):

Image A - 4 corners taped at tops, lid shown.
Image B - lengthwise strip of tape on both sides of lid.
  • Tape the lid piece to the top of the back piece, using a long strip of duct tape - do this on both sides of the lid piece, so that there's tape inside AND outside of the bag (image B).
  • Tape the 4 edges of the bag lengthwise from top to bottom of the bag.  I found it easiest to flatten the two sides against each other and fold the tape over the edges (image C).  Press the tape down firmly.
Image C - tape edge lengthwise.

  Now  you have what looks like a very plain lunch bag.  Time to decorate!  You can tape any way you choose, just make sure that in the end,  every part of the white foam/outside of the bag is covered with strips.  Here's how we did ours:
  • Tape bag in lengthwise strips, starting at edge of lid (fold a tiny bit over to inside), down the back, under the bottom, around and up the front, and fold a tiny bit of tape over to the inside of the front of the bag.  Make sure you have pressed the tape down firmly everywhere, and that there are no air pockets, and as few wrinkles, as possible in your tape.
Push tape down firmly!
Happy creator!

  When lid, front, bottom, and back are covered, do the same down from one side top, over the already taped bottom, and up the other side, folding a tiny bit over the edge.  Doubling up tape on the bottom makes it a bit stronger, and makes for fewer cut tape lines on your work. 
  • Next, fold a strip of tape over the top edge of the bag, covering up all of the raggedy edges of tape folded in there previously.  Do the same around the edges of the lid/flap.  This tidies up all of the rough edges, as well as hides and protects the top edges of visible white Styrofoam.

    Fold a piece of tape over the whole edge.

Inside top edge - all covered neatly.

    Taped over foam handle, taped in place!
    Scrap of foam folded lengthwise for handle.

  • To make a handle in the top, I used a scrap of the foam/foil insulator, a bit longer than the  top of the bag.  I folded it in half and taped it over, and then taped it to the top of the bag on each side of the handle, using a longer stretch of tape.

  • I used my plastic snaps and snap press to fasten the front of the flap to the bag, but this is where sticky or sewn on Velcro would work, a zipper if you're handy with zippers (I bet they could be taped on too, rather than sewn, as long as you taped both from top and bottom of the zipper), buckle, or sew on snaps or buttons!  To make a buttonhole in the lid, I would snip a small rectangle, and then cover the edges of the rectangle with tape again, to keep the sticky raw edges off of the button.   
  • You can also use permanent marker, or cut out shapes from duct tape, or a combination of the two, as I did to make the monograms on the fronts, to decorate in any way you'd like!

 Voila!  Your very own creation!  I welcome comments and feedback, questions for clarification, etc.  It's been a while since I've done a tutorial, and I'm a bit rusty!


  1. aww... thanks! i'd love to see pics if you make one with Rissa!

  2. Cool ... literally ;)

  3. What a super idea. I shall definately be having a go at this. Thank-you for sharing
    Greetings from Kalletal in Germany
    Linda B.