Sew a So-Cool Picnic Tote

Insulated Tote Nancy Zieman

Sew a So-Cool Picnic Tote

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It’s that perfect time of year for toting food to picnics and cookouts. Whether you are planning a family outing for the day or packing the car for a road trip, this modified Weekender Tote will keep hot foods warm or chilled foods cool. Here’s how to make a personalized insulated tote. Simply modify my instructions found in Sew Simple with Rectangles & Squares by using double-quilted fabric lined with Insul-Film. In an afternoon, sew a So-Cool Picnic Tote. The large bag holds everything you’ll need and still stores flat when you are finished.

Insulated Tote Nancy Zieman

Modifying the Weekender Tote Instructions

The Weekender Tote instructions are based on a simple rectangle design, featuring double-sided quilted fabric. The dimensions for the tote are listed in the book, Sew Simple with Rectangles & Squares.

  • Cut out the rectangles from the quilted fabric, using a rotary cutter, ruler, and mat.
  • Assemble and attach the pocket and straps, following the instructions in the book.

Now, it’s time to modify the instructions.
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  • Seam the Insul-Film. The Insul-Film will not be wide enough for the Weekender Tote’s required sizes.

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  • Use Wonder Clips, instead of pins, to hold the Insul-Film together.
Insulated Tote Nancy Zieman 5a
  • Stitch a 1/4″ seam through the Insul-Film using a Teflon Presser Foot, which will allow the foot to slide over the film.
Note from Nancy: I recommend a size 70 Klasse sewing machine needle when sewing through the Insul-Film. The small-sized needle will not create large holes in the Insul-Film. 
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  • Lay the Insul-Film on the inside of the bag base.
  • Use Wonder Clips to hold the film in place around the outer edges.
Insulated Tote Nancy Zieman 6Insulated Tote Nancy Zieman 6a
  • Baste around the bag base perimeter to secure the Insul-Film.
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  • Continue to follow the Weekender Tote instructions to complete the bag, making sure to use Wonder Clips when applying the zipper.
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  • Once the bag is finished, the lining is reflective and functional.
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Watch Sewing With Nancy online 

Learn how to create the original Weekender Tote. Watch Sew Simple with Rectangles & Squares online.
How To Modify an Insulated Grocery Tote | Nancy Zieman | Sewing With Nancy

Watch Sewing With Nancy on your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone; download the app.

Sewing-With-Nancy-Weekender-Tote-Nancy-ZiemanNancy Zieman's Giveaway Winner

The random winner of a Hot and Handy Projects book was Joyce who said, Pot holders and placemats make nice gifts. I enjoyed reading the comments about your favorite sewn kitchen accessory after last week’s blog, How To Sew a Quick Pot Holder
Bye for now,
Nancy Zieman The Blog

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17 Comments

  • Gloria H
    April 4, 2015

    This foil idea is great!! It should be used in ALL wallets so the card readers can’t read through it!!
    I will start using it!! Thank you for this idea! gh

  • Bridget
    April 4, 2015

    Great idea for a hostess gift. I live in CA and we just started having to use re-use able grocery bags. It is really hot 8 months of the year, making some of these from cute fabrics and in different sizes would be perfect. ..thanks.

  • Susie-Q
    April 4, 2015

    Thanks for the great idea. Enjoy learning all your tips and tricks.

  • Pati L
    April 4, 2015

    Where can I buy insul film? Tia.

  • iLah Hartung
    April 4, 2015

    This is great timing — I was just thinking of how to modify my simple tote to carry my knitting tools, on the outside!

  • Mary Jo Pigott Groom
    April 4, 2015

    Love love love this pattern and book

  • Mary Ellen
    April 4, 2015

    Terrific idea, time for a trip to buy some quilted fabric.

  • Coni
    April 4, 2015

    I would use the tote to pack up frozen items at the grocery store on hot summer days. What a great idea. Thanks for the great tutorial.

  • Patti White
    April 4, 2015

    Wow, what a great idea. May also try it with one with a larger bottom to hold a casserole dish.

  • Linda Molden
    April 4, 2015

    I recently saw a tote which was insulated by using a car sun shield from the dollar store. Maybe that would be bigger.

  • Diane S.
    April 5, 2015

    Thanks for another great idea Nancy. This sounds like a quick project which I think I will enjoy.

  • Ruth Gregg
    April 5, 2015

    I would make it larger to use as a cooler bag for cold or frozen groceries. But I would add a layer of fusible fleece to insulate further, cause it can really get hot outside, or sitting in your car if you need to stop somewhere on the way home from getting groceries!

  • Eliset
    April 6, 2015

    great idea can use cute children fabrics to make lunch bags for my grandchildren

  • Caroline Moyer
    April 6, 2015

    I made the cosmetic bag, but had trouble with the zipper. It would be easier to see (in the future) if you would use some other color than black, as it is hard to see details on black. I got my zipper in, but did not come out with the little tabs on the ends – must have measured zipper incorrectly. Is zipper suppose to be l or 2 inches shorter than the opening?
    Onward to the weekender.
    Thank you

  • Jennifer Fried
    April 9, 2015

    Sew cool. Jennifer

  • Raven
    March 30, 2018

    I love her tutorials! I always look for her first when it comes to sewing.

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