Kawaii Bento Lunch Bag Tutorial

Take a peek in my bento lunch bag!! Yup, it’s Totoro looking back at ya’. 


I am in love…with sewing! In my younger years, I was not very good at it…so my mom told me. I must say in her defense that she is a talented seamstress…drafting her own patterns…sewing pants, dresses, & shirts for 7 of us kids. So I accepted her critique. But enter into the present day when she spotted the baby futon I was working on … and exclaimed “oh, you’re better than me!” And with that simple statement, she released my soul from the shackles of sewing insecurity…haha!

I am happily into sewing the many beautiful sewing patterns found in my Japanese craft book collection. Oh yes, I don’t mind hurting by brain and squinting my eyes to decipher those tiny pattern drawings. There are many times I just don’t get it…but am finding that it’s better if I simply follow with a sew-along.

By looking through my many books, I now realize that sewing is like cooking…with simple fundamentals at hand, patterns can be tweaked to create many different looks. And with learning more, I hope to blend techniques to create even more delectable looks. I’m not there yet but am very excited to learn more.

The kawaii bento lunch drawstring bag is one that I’ve looked at for a long time and finally…finally decided to give it a try. This bag can be given a more sophisticated look by simply changing up the fabric and made for other purposes such as a project bag by changing the size. And because I love pies, I’m thinking of making a pie taker!

Okay, ready? Let’s get started on the tutorial based on my interpretation of a couple of different Japanese patterns:

Kawaii Bento Lunch Drawstring Bag Tutorial

Sewing Seam is ¼” except for Drawstring pieces which will have a ½” seam for the sides

Body Piece
  1. Cut fabric & Interfacing (opt) :  10.5” (width) x 14.5” (height)
  2. Note : Instead of interfacing I used flannel.  It works well for stability without adding too much bulk at the seams.
  3. Apply interfacing according to manufacturer’s instructions.  (optional)
  4. Fold fabric in half, right sides facing.  Sew sides.
  5. Sew boxed corners :  Flatten corners so it looks like the one in the pic.  Be sure the seam is centered.  Open sewing seams.  Snip the top if that helps to flatten the seam.  Press down. Measure 4” width.  Draw sewing line. Sew. Cut off excess. I leave ½” of fabric on bag.
  6. Set body piece aside. 

Lining Piece
  1. Cut lining fabric : 10.5” (width) x 14.5” (height)
  2. Fold lining in half, right sides together.
  3. Sew sides leaving a gap on one side for turning.  For the side with the gap; first sew 1 ¾” from the top; then leave a 2 - 2 ½” gap, then finish sewing side.
  4. Sew boxed corner as done for body.
  5. Set lining piece aside. 
Bag Handles
  1. Cut one fabric piece & interfacing (optional): 5” x 13 ¾”, then cut in half : 2.5” x 13 ¾”
  2. Note: If you want a wider handle, cut the fabric 4x the desired width
  3. Note: The stiffness of the bag handles will depend on the type of interfacing used.  I think a medium fusible interfacing should be okay for this bag.
  4. Fold fabric in half and press.  Fold over sides towards center. Then fold over again. Press. Top stitch 1/8” lengthwise along the length of the straps of both sides
  5. Set aside. 

Drawstring Piece
  1. Cut 2 pieces : 11.5”  11.0" (width) x 5.5” (height)
  2. Stitch both sides stopping  2 ¾” from the top,  USING an  ½” SEAM
  3. Press seams open.  Turn over edge to hide raw edges. Press. Sew.
  4. To make the casing for the drawstring:  Turn over the top edge ½” 1/4" and press. Fold over again about 1 ½” to fold the casing.  Stitch in place. 

Putting It All Together

Straps Placement : Measure 2.5” from each side for strap placement.  Place the straps at the markings; aligned with the top edge.   Pin straps in place then baste with a few stitches.

Joining the Drawstring piece with the body : Place the body inside the drawstring piece; right sides together.  Pin top edges together and sew.  Pull up the drawstring piece. Press the joined edge and top stitch along this joined edge on body side.

Joining the Lining : Fold down the drawstring piece to expose the top edges again.  Place the bag/strap/drawstring piece into the lining; right side of lining to wrong side of drawstring piece. Sew along top edge.  Pull bag through gap.  Make everything pretty.  Sew gap close.

Insert drawstring cord through casing: Cut 2 cords; each 23.5” long.  Attach a safety pin to one end of the cord and pull cord through casing until the both ends of the cord are on one side of the bag.  Tie ends together.  Pull the second cord through so that the ends are on the opposite sides of the bag.  Tie ends.

Remember how I mentioned earlier about blending techniques?  Here’s one to try next… to create a bag with a crochet bottom and the drawstring piece technique in this tutorial.


  1. this is really cute... I may have to try this soon! cute blog btw!

  2. Hi !
    This bag was surprising quick to make...and fun. the blog? my son did it!..it's so nice to have an artist in the family...and of course, it would be nice to have a plumber too..heh.

  3. I have to try this pattern1 Its so cute..thanks for putting a tutorial together:)

  4. Chloeandme ~that pic of your dog always makes me smile! Have fun making your own bento bags!!

  5. I really like the fabric you choose for your bag. I'll do some pinning and hopefully I'll remember to come back looking for you. =D Tina 'the book lady' http://familyliteracy2.blogspot.com

  6. This is too cute! Thanks so much for sharing! I love your fabric choices.


  7. I love this! I am going to attempt to make it this week. So - the lining is much longer than the outside right? and pokes out the top a considerable amount?

  8. Do you have a pattern for this tutorial?