Monday, 11 February 2019

Homemade Valentine's Bento Bags

We never shy away from Valentine's day and have always marked it in some way. Whether it is with a dinner out or in, gifts or just flowers, I like to do something to mark the day and celebrate who we love!


I get it, for some, having a day, which in theory celebrates you appreciation for the love of your life can be quite difficult when you find your life without one. I know plenty of single girls and they all deal with Valentine's day a bit differently. Some rush to find a date, with a partner or just friends to "occupy" themselves, some sit at home and debate what a horrible day it is to have to celebrate, others forget it even exists and some do just accept that it is a day that isn't about celebrating a partner at all, they know that in reality, tradition would say it is for lovers but really, Valentine's day is just another time to realign yourself and be thankful for all the loved ones in your life. 

This is how I feel, especially now with my parents and the kids. Rob and I can go out for dinner whenever we want to celebrate our relationship, we don't need to do it on one night of the year quite specifically! And actually, as Valentine's is more likely on a week night it means in recent years, we have kids activities and other general life things that completely take over. That's not to say it is not marked, I make sure to do that but it means that often it happens on days that aren't actually Valentine's days.

For me, it's all about breakfast to be honest. For the kids, for us all, an opportunity to open cards and usually a bag of treats. I love to mark it with a few gifts, the kids will always know they are loved on Valentine's day because I am prepared to always be their Valentine! We also make sure that the kids know about it too and since Raph's very first Valentine, they have always delivered balloons and cards to their grandparents, another action to just enforce that Valentine's is not always just about letting one person know they are loved but really, reminding a few special ones they are also loved. 

This last Christmas you may remember that I spoke about wrapping gifts in fabric {READ HERE} and working on from that theme I want to share with you some BENTO BAGS which take into consideration Japanese style of wrapping in fabric and makes it more like a gift bag.

For Valentine's day it is perfect as I like to get bits and bobs for the kids, mainly sweet treats so having a more secure pouch is a perfect gift bag idea.

Making the bag is based on origami folding: not too much stitching is needed either!


Now I took all my examples from Pinterest, a great place to do research because more often than not, someone has already made whatever it is you are thinking about!
Pinterest had loads of examples and after a few reads on different websites, I figured out what I had to do. 

BETWEEN THE LINES BLOG is a great example, I just didn't join the handles to make a handbag. Also SEW DIY BLOG has a great example which helps you visualise what you have to do.

Let's make a bento bag

The basic rule is, you have a rectangle, you fold it in a way, you sew it, and it's done. It is simple but you just have to work on your sizing.


To start off cut a rectangle which whatever the length, x3 for the width, e.g mine are 25cm by 75cm. You need to plan in a 1/4 inch seem allowance, this is usually on the base plate on a sewing machine, or just make sure however far in you sew your hems, you do that consistently.

Anyway, to help highlight the folds, I have ironed mine, you do not need to do this though, it is simply so you can see where you fold your fabric.


You simply start with folding the top left corner down and the bottom right corner up.




This is the more problematic fold but you take the top right corner and pull it down and across letting it sit with a diagonal middle seam.


Spin round so the points are facing up.


This is your bento bag. All that needs to happen now is sewing.

I am using a JUKI DX7. I love my machine, it is so easy to use and handles small sewing projects like this with ease. Really it is built for the big projects, dress making, quilting but its speed and precision make little projects like this easy.

Next you need to pin along the joins:




These are your side seams, one on each side. Sew a straight line of stitching {I did mine 1/4 inch in} to seal the join. Repeat on the other side.


Once that is done you will begin to see the shape of the bag.




Now we want to actually give our bag a better base. We are going to sew the corners and cut them off giving us a rectangular base instead.


Flatten the bag making sure the top two corners of the bag join on top of each other and the bottom two, where the base is, also join on each other.


It is the base corners that you will be cutting.
I measure 3 inchs in from the point of the corners.




Do it one at a time as it is easier.


Draw a line from the top to bottom. A straight line cutting off the point equally on both sides of an imaginary centre line running vertically from the point.
When you are happy, simply chop it off.


Now sew up the two holes you now have in the base. Straight line stitching 1/4 of an inch in.


You should have a shape similar to this now. If you open it up again it should sit with a flat bottom and a more rectangular shape.


Now depending on your fabric and if you want to, before turning it the right way round I would zigzag hem all the edges. This stops the fabric fraying and gives the seams more strength.



The base and the sides of the bag are now finished. Again, it is up to you but as my fabric was fraying as I made this I also put a hem on the top half of the bag, what would be the handles or ties.


I simply made a small fold and sewed from all around the bare edges. 


This was also zigzag stitched to prevent further fraying.




And all of a sudden, you have your BENTO BAG. Now I am no professional, just a girl who likes to try and this process is pretty much how it played out. You may be more experienced than me and know a quicker way to do it, leave me a comment of your ideas, they would help me out too!




I made a couple for our kids and popped to the shops and got a bag full of treats!

Packing the Valentine's Bento Bags




I actually found most of the Valentine's items at Home Bargains and they were not expensive; heart chocolates, biscuits and sweets were all available at not inflated prices. I also picked up some cheap rainbow crayons, stationary boxes {mini sellotape, etc.} and hair clips to also put in the Bento Bags and some mini jars of strawberry jam, a really sweet treat!


Filling the bags was fun, there is a large sugar content but we don't allow the children to gorge, it will take them weeks and weeks to eat!


The end results look like an absolute bountiful bag of happiness which for a child opening it, will cause a huge amount of excitement. The bag shape also comes in very handy to keep the contents contained which is why I didn't want to just wrap the gifts but make a bag. 

Using the two tabs left simply pull across and tie.

Tying up your Bento Bag

This is pretty simple, as you would anything, a simple tie, pulling the two tabs as tight as you can to secure them and keep all the treats contained!










These bags are absolutely perfect for Valentine's day. A real treat bag ready to be opened Valentine's morning as part of the days celebrations.

What do you think? Could you have a go at making them? Do you like the idea of creating a gift bag this way?

Whatever your answer, I love having a go at making something that we can keep and use over and over again, a bit like a Christmas stocking, you get them out each year and the kids begin to develop fond memories of the moments when they are used.

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