Mid-August is that time of the year where kids, parents, and students alike start to think about school. And why not make this school year a bit more eco-friendly? This has been one of the most useful craft projects that also doubles for my zero waste efforts.
Time: 30-45 minutes
- 2 cotton fat quarters– (2) 18×22
- beeswax pellets (around 1/4 cup)
- velcro (at least 20 inches in length)
- Take 2 fat quarters and cut them together at the same time.
- (2) 7×13 inches, (1) 7.5×18, (1) 5×9, (1) circle d4
Two bags will be approximately the size of a regular sized sandwich bag and one bag will be approximately the size of a quart bag.
- Preheat the oven to 180F. This temperature will just melt the beeswax without burning the fabric.
- Lay your fabric on a baking sheet. You can line the baking sheet with tin foil or parchment paper to make clean-up easier. I just used a naked baking sheet to make less waste. Although, cleaning it does require a substantial amount of elbow grease.
- Choose your inside fabric. I choose a sea-foam green for the inside that matches the cool whale fabric on the outside of the bag.
- Lay your inside fabric on the sheet and sprinkle with the beeswax pellets. Try to evenly spread the beeswax around the fabric.
- Place tray into the oven and watch until it melts. The fabric will turn darker as the beeswax meshes to the fabric.
- Remove from oven when all the beeswax is melted. This should take about 5 minutes.
- Take a fork or other utensil to spread the beeswax so it is evenly distributed on the face of the fabric.
Add more beeswax if needed and remelt.
It is okay if the beeswax is not perfectly flush to edge of the fabric. A half-inch border around the edge will be sewn.
(Featuring a very gunky baking sheet.)
- Next, slowly peel the fabric away from the sheet and hang to harden. The fabric is not hot enough to burn/hurt your hands. But be careful to just touch the fabric and not the tray. I took a wire hanger and hung my fabric with clothes pins. It takes only a couple of minutes for the beeswax to cool and harden.
(Also featuring my cheap college apartment.)
While this is cooling it’s time to set up that sewing machine. Thread the machine with matching thread.
- Cut velcro– (2) 5 inches, (1) 6 inches, (1) 3.5. When the bag is finished the velcro will be 1/2 an inch away from the seam on each side.
As you can see above, the beeswax fabric in laid on top of the outside fabric. Then the bottom of the fabric is folded up. I did this to make sure the whales/pattern of my fabric was facing the way I wanted.
- Mark with a pencil the middle of the velcro strip and the middle of the fabric. 3/4 of an inch from the top of the fabric in where the top of the velcro will sit. Line up the middle velcro with the middle of the fabric. Make sure the velcro is straight along the top edge of the fabric.
Sew down the middle of the fabric. Make sure the soft velcro is on the beeswax fabric and the rough velcro is on the outside fabric. This way when you open the bag, there is not as much pressure on the top flap so your velcro won’t rip away from the fabric.
When sewing on the beeswax fabric, set the tension lower.
- Secure the velcro to the fabric by sewing a vertical line at every inch. And then sewing around the edge of the velcro.
As seen here on the back side of the beeswax fabric. Do not just sew around the edge. It will not hold! I made one beeswax bag first to test and this failed after the first use. This was also the time I discovered that the soft velcro should be attached to the beeswax side and the rough to the outside.
As you can see above, the top flap will be folded down to create a pouch.
- To sew the sides, lay the wrong side of the fabric facing each other. Both the velcro strips will be facing towards the inside BUT they will not be attached. They will be on opposite ends.
- With a quarter inch seam allowance, sew slowly around the outside of the fabrics. It’s like you are making a pillow. Leave a 2-3 inch gap so you can turn the work right side out.
Notice that the gap is near the bottom of the fabric. This way when the sides are sew together to create the bag, that gap will be hidden.
- Turn the work inside out. Or should I say outside out? I used a knitting needle to make sure those tricky edges were completely flush.
- Next, sew the gap closed. Make sure the fabric is tucked inside.
Again, this gap is near the bottom of the bag. The top flap is on the right where the soft velcro is. The bottom, on the left, will be folded up.
Fold up the fabric. You can see it looks more like a bag. The edge of the fabric (above the rough velcro) is 2 inches from the top (above the soft velcro). Sew the sides of the bag.
Decrease the tension to about 0.5 to make sure it stitches through the thick beeswax fabric folded in on itself.
And then you are done!
Usually you would not leave a seam on the outside, but in this case the inside of the bag is what matters. If you were to turn this bag inside out for example, the food would get stuck in the seam. This way you also do not have to do any fancy cutting of the flap and the bags stay flat when not in use.
The strip of fabric that was 5×13.5 was too long for me. So I cut that strip 5×9 instead to make a tiny (and therefore super cute) beeswax bag. But what to do with the extra?
I made a little circle– one side beeswax. I think it works great to wrap used silverware.
They are so easy to use! Fill with your favorite food and pack in your lunch, a day trip, in the car, wherever!
You can fill them with any food– dry, fresh, cold. You cannot put hot things in the bags because then the beeswax will melt. But warm works wonderful! I love bagels so I have toasted a bagel, put cream cheese on it, put it in the bag, and taken it with me. I run late many a day so taking breakfast with me is a must.
Juicy fruit can be put in these bags without a problem. The inside of the bags are not water proof but they are water resistant. So you can’t fill the bag up with juice and expect it to not get all over the place. But a small amount of juice run-off from cut fruit is perfectly fine.
To wash, just take your rag or sponge with soap and wash! Use cool water and drape to dry.
There are so many amazing benefits to creating these reusable beeswax bags.
- Zero waste: no more disposable, easy to tear plastic!
- Inexpensive: I purchased 2 fat quarters for $0.99 each and beeswax bought in bulk was $3.
- Size: you can customize the sizes of the bags if you want. It is so versatile. Each bag holds a great amount of food.
- Healthy: no plastic is in contact with your food!
- Easy maintenance: it takes no time at all to wash these bags. And guess what I do? Re-use multiple times before washing. Mainly I will continue to reuse the bag if I am putting the same or similar food in the bag. The bigger bag is great for popcorn (my favorite) and other crunchy, salty snacks. I never feel the need to wash it after every use.
Yes to food storage!
Yes to super cute fabric!
I cannot gush over these bags enough! Beeswax wraps are so cool too. That’s on my list of future projects to make. Would you give these bags a try? And what other creative zero waste and plastic free food storage solutions have you found? I would love to know.