bento bag + utensil mat tutorial part 1

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This is a bucket-style bag that has soooo much room for creativity.  We made about 12 for Christmas, & each person got different handles & paintings.  The grandfathers got shoe bags instead of mats...Even though I went to Japanese schools, I do have to say that I call this baon (ba-own) instead of bento.  That would be bento in Pilipino.  As in, "Eat! Eat more!  Pack a baon!"

 

It takes about an hour each for the bag & the mat.  If you want you can paint the mat fabric first so the utensil pockets can be sewed a bit over the painting like "famous ducks on the pond," above.  It was painted with acrylics.   For napkins we just cut some matching denim & frayed it the wash.  This is a beginner sewing project, with the 7 year-old helping with every procedure.  Lake (3) & Kai (11 months) helped with the painting & pedal work.

 

Our handles were fingerknit from various decorative strings of cotton.  If you want the handles to act like drawstrings, you might use a lighter cotton than denim, or, you can make the casings an inch thick.  These casings are 1/2".  The boys wanted them to look more like buckets, so this pattern has a drawstring effect, while still being wide open for grazing.

 

Bucket-Style Bento Bag

 

Materials:

(2) each fabric: 14 1/2" x 11"        -   these are the walls
(1) piece fabric: 8 1/2" x 6 1/2"    -   bottom
(2) lengths ribbon or icord: 35"     -   handles

Tools:

Sewing Machine, Scissors, Ruler
Assembling the Walls

1.) Take 1 piece of 14 1/2" x 11" fabric.  Fold over the sides 1/4" & iron.

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2.) Fold the top down 1/2".  Iron.  Fold down another 1/2" & iron.  

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3.)  This will be your casing.  Fold the sides in as you fold over that top.  Like this:


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4.) Do the other rectangle.  With top folded over twice, stitch along bottom edge of casing.  Backstitch at beginning & end.  Grab your other rectangle & just keep stitching through without cutting the thread.  It's much faster.

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5.) With right sides together, line up the edges of the two rectangles.  Sew along that 1/4" line you creased with the iron.  The foot should stop about 1/2" below the casing.  Backstitch.  Do other side.

6.) Now you have a tube for the walls.  Grab the bottom piece & turn it upside down.  Line up the edges with the tube bottom, making sure to place the corners along those side seams. Use a 1/4" stitch.  When you come within 1/4" of each edge, just put your needle down into the fabric, lift the foot & pivot the fabric.  Backstitch the beginning & end.

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7.) Using a large drawstring needle or a safety pin, pull one handle length through one casing, out the other end.  Put it into other casing & pull through to other side.  Tie two knots, one above the other.   You can also pull the knot through & hide it in the casing.  Take the other length of ribbon & insert it into the other side of the bag, & pull through entire bag.  Tie off.  

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8.)  Pull each side a bit & even out the gathers.  Insert your bento boxes, mat & napkins!

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I'll show you guys how to make the mat tomorrow.  My mind is just buzzing with the possibilities of this set.  If you try it, please send pictures!  I love sewing & I love food, & I happen to know many of you do, too.  And there's nothing more inspiring than seeing all your projects.  Thanks!