Project reviews

Chubby Lunch Tote Project Review

During August, students of all ages get ready to go back to school. Teachers, parents and many professionals in other fields also get ready for the change of season with new gear or supplies. In this post I review the Chubby Lunch Tote by Caroline of

Read the online tutorial here:

Chubby Lunch Tote

Note this project is for personal use only.

For the purposes of my review, I’m going to summarize the tutorial, tell you what I did differently (if anything) and share my general thoughts about sewing the project.

The tutorial beings some photographs of finished Chubby Lunch Totes and a description of the project. This project is fat quarter friendly but can also be made using yardage. The materials list, two cutting diagrams and cutting list are next. It’s extra work for the author to provide cutting diagrams, but I find they make fabric selection easier.

Step 1 Prepare your materials

I didn’t have any Insulbrite Insulated Batting so I applied fusible fleece to both my exterior and interior pieces. It was easy to fuse my fat quarters before cutting out the pieces.

After all the pieces are cut, panels are prepared for the front, back, and bottom of the tote. Basting spray is recommended. I didn’t have any basting spray so I used my sewing machine to baste the interior and exterior front, back and bottom pieces together. As per the instructions, I used a 1/4” seam allowance to do so.

Layers of blue fabrics on a green background
Cut materials for Chubbyc Lunch Tote

At the end of this section, there is a list of the panels and pieces you should have created. This is a handy way to verify that you’ve basted the correct pieces together.

Step 2 Attach zipper

Using my narrow zipper foot made attaching the zipper a snap.

Closeup of usng a narrow zipper foot to topstitich a blue zipper on blude fabric
Top-stitching zipper
Step 3 Attach side pieces

I basted the exterior side pieces in place before pinning the interior side pieces.

Blue zipper in blue fabric on a green background
My finished zipper panel
Step 4 Handles

I have a lot of experience using the described technique to make bag handles. First I cut my hands from a scrap of home decor weight cotton that was thinner than quilting weight cotton. I fused medium-weight interfacing to the wrong sides of my handle pieces for added strength and rigidity.

Blue, white and black fabric handles on a green background
My finished handles

The handles were sewn on with a 1/4” seam, but then things get interesting. After some fancy folding and additional stitching, the front and back panels look odd.

Blue fabric with side folds at top on a green background
My front panel

As it turns out these extra stitches give the Chubby Lunch Tote it’s unique shape.

Step 5 Assemble sides

This is the first step in the second half of the tutorial. The zipper panel to front and back seams were tricky due to the number of layers being sewn. I sewed the section between the handles with the zipper panel on the bottom and the two seams outside of the handles with the zipper panel on the top.

Step 6 Finish edges

I made a length of 1/2” wide double fold bias tape from a scrap of interior fabric to finish my edges with. (Read my tutorial on making continue bias tape here.)

Coil of cream colored bias tape on a green background
Homemade bias tape

Even with 1/2” wide bias tape, I found sewing around the handle flaps to be a challenge. I hand-basted my bias tape in place then sewed it with my sewing machine.

Step 7 Attach bottom

I should have started and stopped my side seam bias tape 3/8” from the ends of the seam to reduce bulk when I sewed the bottom panel. Not doing sew made the bottom seams quite thick. It was difficult to sew

That’s it! There are seven steps.

Here are some photos of my finished Chubby Lunch Tote:

Oblique view of blue Chubby Lunch Tote with blue/white/black handles curving upward
Oblique view of my Chubby Lunch Tote
Side view of blue lunch tote with blue/black/white handles curving updware
Side view of my Chubby Lunch Tote
Top view of blue, rectangular Chubby Lunch tote (blue/white/black handles visible above & below main body of tote)
Top view of my Chubby Lunch Tote
Closeup of top of blue tote with zipper open
Looking inside my Chubby Lunch Tote

This tutorial was well written and beautifully photographed. It really made the instructions much easier to follow with so many photos to reference. This was particularly important for sewing on the handles as the technique was as unfamiliar one.

This bag can stand up even when it’s empty. The thick seams and slow sewing means this project requires patience to get good results. This unique project is worth the effort.

Use this bag to carry other items than your lunch. I look forward to making another one as a handbag. I’d be using one layer of fusible fleece and anticipate have much less trouble sewing through thick fabric layers.

Have you made a lunch tote? Did you try the Chubby Lunch Tote tutorial? Comment below and/or Pin me for later!


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