Purse Palooza :: Pattern Review: Pink Penguin Lunch Bag

This post is part of Purse Palooza 2012.
For full schedule of guest post pattern reviews and prizes, click here!

Today’s guest post is from Jennie of Clover and Violet. Jennie is a quilting and embroidering extraordinaire! You can find a large Embroidery 101 section on her blog, with instructions to get you started, as well as many blocks from her past quilt along. There is also a Pattern Shop (use code: PALOOZA2012 for 15% off through July 11!) with lots of quilted bag sewing patterns!

For my pattern review I made the Lunch Bag from the tutorial by Ayumi of Pink Penguin.  It was my first time making it, and I think it turned out really cute.  I made my body patchwork instead of a single piece of fabric, and I think it added a great look!

Materials & Interfacing:

The pattern calls for duck cloth {or interfaced quilting cotton} for the outer, and then quilting cotton for the rest of the bag.

I made this bag out of mostly scraps, with a couple cuts of yardage, all quilting cotton.Since I really like the patchwork look, I chose to use 2 1/2″ square of fabric to make up the main body and quilt them 1/8″ from each seam.  This made my lunch bag one inch taller than the original because I didn’t want to cut down any of my squares, I adjusted the lining accordingly.

I fused Pellon® Shirtailor® 950F to the back of the patch worked piece before quilting {I know this is an apparel interfacing, but I’ve used it before and it washes well and keeps its shape, and I almost always end up washing my bags!}.

I interfaced the lining, band, and handles with Pellon® Shape-Flex SF101 {more about the handles in the modifications!}.

Pattern Pieces:

This bag gives cutting directions but does not have any actual pattern pieces, yay!


The instructions were pretty clear and easy to follow, with plenty of pictures!


I did make a few modifications to the pattern.  It is a great style, but I didn’t like how many exposed raw edges remained when the lunch bag was finished.  Since I intend to use {and wash} my bag, I wanted to finish all the edges.

I sewed a bias tape {not cut on the bias} around the unfinshed edge on the inside {I then had to switch my machine to the leather setting and use a jeans needle to top stitch through it on the outside, but it was worth it!}.

I also used french seams on the drawstring portion so that it would be finished as well, I adjusted the size of the drawstring piece to be 1/2″ larger to accommodate the french seams.

I added a bias tape {again, not cut on the bias} for the drawstring instead of using cord.  I thought it would last longer and look more finished.

And finally, I cut my handles out of one piece, sewed it into a tube and turned it.  Then I threaded a piece of interfacing as wide as the tube through the handles.  In retrospect, I should have just interfaced the whole piece and then turned it, they would have been a little stiffer, but I got distracted…oops!

Difficulty Level:

I’d say this bag could easily be made by a beginner, but it wouldn’t necessarily be a great first project.  However, adding the bias tape made it a bit more difficult.  If you’re not used to sewing through lots of layers or haven’t done so on your machine, I don’t know if I would add this step, as I did break a needle before switching to a jeans needle!


I honestly don’t know if I would make this pattern again.  I’d have to rework it somehow to finish that inside seam without the bias tape, as that was a bit difficult {and rough on my machine}, but I just really don’t like the idea of unfinished edges.

Other than that, it was a great pattern, and if the edges don’t bother you, then go for it!

Edit to add:  Ayumi has updated her tutorial with an easy way to finish the inside edge!  I am really pleased with how my bag turned out, her pattern is super cute and I cannot wait to make another one with her additional instructions!

Share this post

14 replies on “Purse Palooza :: Pattern Review: Pink Penguin Lunch Bag

  • Kathy B in TN

    I’ve made this bag no less than 30 times – I don’t understand how you have “unfinished seams” inside? When you attach the drawstring cover portion and follow up with the topstitching – that catches the inside seam and finishes it.

  • Taya@TypeB

    I love this pattern, too. I’ve made it three times, and each time has been quick and fun. I add Insul-Brite and I also used a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth for the inside (like Ayumi does), so it can be wiped out. It can’t be put in the washing machine, but you can spot wash.

  • MC

    I made one of these using fused plastic grocery bags instead of fabric for the outside and the straps (it’s rigid and waterproof). I found it a bit small to use as a lunch bag so I use it for fabric scraps 🙂

  • teresa

    Your bag is adorable! I love the patchwork.

    I didn’t want exposed seams either, so constructed it differently and the bulk o seams is now between the upper band. I did some hand-stitching and you can kind of see here: http://bit.ly/LiCkAJ what I was doing. I used cotton laminate for mine, inside and out, with the tie cover made of quilting cotton. Washable, but must sit out to dry.

    I love this bag; it just needed a little tweaking for my liking.

  • heartsease54

    I’ve made this bag a couple of times, I love it for showcasing several different fabrics. I may use the french seam idea on my next one for the drawstring portion, but the other seam is topstitched and pretty secure so I wouldn’t bother with the bias binding since it is pretty thick to sew through already. Your bag turned out really cute-great choice of fabric.

  • Laurie in Maine

    I think this will be my next Purse Palooza must-make find! Thank you 🙂
    From reading the directions it looked like all the seams would be hidden by the final top stitching and perhaps a zigzag stitch around instead of binding would help prevent fraying by repeated washing. But it seemed like all the raw edges would be under that last “skirt”?
    Went shopping today to test a couple of new to me Pellon choices in next efforts.

  • elnorac

    Thanks for this well-written review! Love how the patchwork bag came out!

    I love Ayumi’s tutorial for this bag and have made three bags with it, one with somewhat different dimensions so it perfectly fits a bento box. I like having the inside finished with bias tape, too, but solved the problem of thickness by not doing any top stitching. Because of that lovely band along the top, it looks nicely finished without top stitching.

    Ayumi’s other tutorials are great, too!

  • Cynthia

    I’ve been wanting to make this bag for a long time and my daughters and I are going to make it at a sew night in the near future. Thanks for the pattern review, it really helped!

  • Elsa

    I’ve made this bag many times and have even modified it to be a much bigger container without the drawstring and handles parts. It’s such a great pattern!

  • Laurie in Maine

    Made one yesterday… There are NO raw edges left. I think reviewer misinterpreted the last couple of steps. 🙂

    Last Top Stitching of bag should be stitched below inside seam allowances to encase all edges. (With right side of drawstring cover showing – tucked down inside.) At that point you’re sewing through many layers already so adding bias binding only adds more! Not needed.

    • Laurie in Maine

      oops! Emailed the designer out of curiosity. She’s added a note to the tutorial now to widen the distance of the top stitching to encase raw edges. It seems to be a spot in the tutorial people each interpreted differently.


Comments make my day and I love to reply!