Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ecolovies ~ How to make a no plastic wrap bowl cover

Wouldn't it be great to never use plastic wrap again?

Well for the last year I have been experimenting with my bowl covers and I finally have figured out how to get the best results with different materials.

I have made them with one layer of cotton fabric, a layer of PUL and a layer of fabric, and two layers of cotton fabric. All have worked, but for different things. The one layer of fabric was perfect for a picnic wrap. If you want to take a bowl of chips or a plate of veggies to a potluck, this is your best choice. Can be beautiful, costs next to nothing and is extremely easy to make (as you don't need to fight with two circles of fabric at any point).

The two layered fabric ones are great for those of us who don't want to use any plastic at all (PUL is a type of plastic... reusable, washable plastic that is used on baby diapers all the time... but plastic). I use these for leftovers.

However, the one that works the best IMO is the PUL/fabric mix. I have used many different types of covers for my bowls over the years of moving away from plastic wrap. This combination is the best of both worlds... it keeps food beautifully! Salad stays crisp and leftovers stay moist. I use these most often. They are all washable... I throw them in the washer with my kitchen towels and napkins and have never had a problem... although the PUL will last longer if you don't put them through the dryer.

You need:

  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Scissors
  • Prewashed PUL
  • Prewashed ironed cotton fabric
  • 1/4 or 1/8 inch elastic

1. Cut two circles that are 1 1/2 inches wider on each side than the bowl you want to cover. I just lay my bowl down, and use a ruler to mark 1 1/2 inches wide around the circle. I have also used the next size up bowl to measure. I have a set that is graduated and I use the next bowl up for the next smaller bowl's cover and so on.

2. Pin these circles in several places so they do not slip when sewing.

3. Place the two circles right sides facing out and zig zag stitch all the way around the outside of the circles. (You never turn this project.)

4. When they are zig zagged together, measure the elastic to fit the bowl. A good rule of thumb is twice across the bowl will fit the bowl tight... there is a lot of room for error here. It can be 'just about' and still work perfectly.

5. Sew the elastic (while stretching) very carefully to the very outside edge of the bowl cover, making sure to back stitch or lock stitch where the ends meet.

That's it! These are addicting... just a warning... soon you will be picking fabrics to match you kitchen and covering every bowl in the house!

A few notes:

It is the same instructions for the two layers of cotton fabric. Just substitute the fabric for PUL.

Using 1/8 inch elastic is tricky, make sure you place the side with the ridge down and sew in the trench of the elastic (pictured above). Your needle can slip off (numerous times) and annoy the crap out of you if you do not. ;)

If you do use PUL, make sure that you are sewing with the PUL part facing up. If it is facing down it will make your bobbin slip and skip stitches... I don't know why, but every time I have tried, it has made the project a mess due to skipped stitches.




Luisa said...

Ok this just awesome!! Thank you thank you thank you for sharing. Once in a while I buy the plastic wrap but I don't enjoy using it even though it lasts a while. Great idea fabric and it would be nice to match with dish towels or give as a Xmas gifts so neat.

ColorSlut said...

Thanks for posting this. I used my snail cover last night on pasta salad. Worked like a champ!

LillyZoo said...

I dig it Thanks for posting said...

This is great and so, so cute! Thanks so much, I'll be linking.

Wendy said...

Brilliant and gorgeous! I can't wait to make a BUNCH of these! Thanks for the tutorial...

Melissa ;-) said...

Love this! Where does one get PUL?

Unknown said...

These are fantastic! I'm tired of buying the crummy little ones the grocery store carries. They last only a few washings. And I have found PUL on EBAY, some cute patterns too. Thank You Thank YOu for this idea!!!!!

Jill said...

Lovely idea and great tutorial!

Found you on one pretty thing today!


Anonymous said...

This is great! Gotta love cute fabic AND enviro friendly crafts!

Beth- the mama bee said...

I'm going to do it too. Thanks for the idea. Our joanns just started selling PUL

Amber said...

this is a great idea and i know it will make bring dishes to potluck so much more fun... and of course the bonus of not having to use plastic! :) thanks!

Val in the Rose Garden said...

For all of you who are still sub'ed to this post, you can now get cute PUL prints at JoAnn's fabrics! They even have Ooga Booga which is one of my favorite all time PUL prints and oh so cute!

Blessings and hope you are all having a wonderfully green new year!


Anonymous said...

This was great! I would love to repost with credit to you of course. Just let me know by contacting me :)

Unknown said...

Could you also follow this same process to make a cover for a 9x13pan? That's what I find myself using plastic wrap on most often. Thanks for the great idea!!

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea. Eco-friendly fabric wraps.. they look so pretty than plastic wraps. I am going to try doing them. Thanks for sharing this idea.

Tonya said...

This is GREAT!!! I was wondering, do you think using recycled wool would work (I have thick wool from a sweater). I was looking to go all natural and have read how they are used for natural diapering b/c they are naturally water resistant, but they do let some air in. Perhaps I should try it, but wondered what your experienced input would be. Thanks!!

Val in the Rose Garden said...

Farmer's Wife: I am really not sure! It would be worth a try. Wool is not good for my families skin so I only use it for toys and not for diapers. If you do, please let me know how it works!! :) Great idea. (I have used sweaters that felt extra thick for the bottoms of slippers. Just another thought for that sweater. :) )



Elaine @kid in my heart said...

Ok, I'm feeling really dumb here. What is IMO and PUL?

Val in the Rose Garden said...

Hi Elaine! No problem. :) IMO means "In my opinion" and PUL is the type of fabric that you use to make the waterproof part of the bowl cover. It is sold at most JoAnn's stores.

Have a great night!



Jamie Oliver (@va_grown) said...

Thank you for sharing--can't wait to try it!

Carrie said...

I would like to use a picture from this post and reference the tutorial on our website. Can you let me know if this is ok?

Val in the Rose Garden said...

Carrie - you are more than welcome to post a picture of the project! :) Enjoy.



Kelly Lamb said...

I remember the plastic disposables that were so popular years ago. This is fantastic. I love the idea of using PUL.

Mary T. Pratt Salmon said...

You are amazing! What a super idea...I love your blog!May I post on my blog or FB? Thanks again...

Becca said...

I can't quite tell in the picture - which way should the PUL fabric be facing - right side out? So that you have the right side of the cotton on one side of the bowl cover and the right side of the PUL on the under side of the bowl cover?

Val in the Rose Garden said...

The PUL is facing in. :) I have seen several types of PUL poping up at JoAnn's in different patterns and it would be pretty easy to make one with just one layer of PUL instead of putting the fabric over the top like I had to here. When I made this, JoAnn's didn't have PUL and the only type I could order was solid colors! LOL! I love customer demand. It creates so many changes in what we can do with our dollar! :)



The Bull's Pen said...

Thanks for sharing I really need to make these. We use way too much press and seal in this house.

Nueyer said...

The snails are sooooo cute!!! I used the same concept to cover a pail but I threaded the elastic all around. Your method of adding elastic seems much easier.... I've got to try it next time =)

Viktorija said...

Your statement "although the PUL will last longer if you don't put them through the dryer." is incorrect based on the information from the link you provided for the PUL fabric.

It specifically states "Don't be mislead by other websites' claims that PUL will wear out after 20 or 100 washings. This fabric was designed to be autoclaved, meaning sterilized in a high heat. We recommend drying all your PUL fabric items on high heat. This helps the laminate to keep the best seal to the fabric."

Being put through an autoclave is certainly hotter than a dryer. And the fact that it also helps keep the laminate sealed to the fabric is a very important point that should be reiterated by those reading your post.

Kristy said...

Thanks for this one :)

I wonder if you could use print PUL on the top and then a plain cotton underneath ie the plain cotton food side... that way no plastic in contact with the food?

Also, do you find much different sewing POLY PUL v Cotton PUL?

Cheers and thanks


Tara Burton said...

Just made two of these ... would have made more but I didn't have enough elastic ... super easy to make and I look forward to using them instead of the plates I've been using (stopped using plastic wrap over a year ago)!

Unknown said...

I never knew about PUL before, so thanks for the education. Lids are always being split/lost in our house, so I was looking for replacements when I found your beautiful site.

What if you use elastic thread, instead of normal thread with separate elastic? Maybe it'd have to be hand sewn then, and maybe it's too thin and would break (or be weakened in the heated wash). I just wondered what you think.

If I just use 1 ply of PUL(because I don't mind how it looks), do I have to zigzag the edge to prevent fraying?

Val in the Rose Garden said...

@Jw N - Hey there! I have tried elastic thread and it doesn't work near as well for gathering the cover as the regular thin elastic did.

I am guessing you would not have to use a zig-zag stitch if you were just using the PUL without the cotton over the top.

We have used these for two years now. They are still going strong! :)



Val in the Rose Garden said...

@Kristy - I am not sure. I haven't done it that way before. I would love to see how it works! I would be concerned with the washablity of the cover at that point with the moisture barrier between two layers of fabric... But please, let me know how it works if you try it!



DeltaRose2 said...

I'm not much on a sewing machine but, can sew by hand-How about using a vinyl table cloth that's already waterproof?

Cleo said...


I want to let you know that I used a picture from this post with a link back to the picture and another link to this tutorial on my website

I hope this is ok with you? If not just let me know and I will remove it.



V said...

Added this to a blog post I wrote and cited you: Thank you for blogging some great crafts!

Rachel said...

I just wanted to add that the PUL at Joann's may not be food safe, but the PUL at is, as well as having a fabulous selection, better prices and a deal where you can get an extra piece added to your order if you spend $15 or more. It's a great resource!

Unknown said...

Hello! Great substitute for the elasticized plastic covers you can buy by the pack in some stores.

But how would these hold up if the bowl is microwaved? The plastic ones sometimes melt some, besides always looking & feeling kinda dirty.


Martha said...

Is the PUL side the "shiny" side? I have two different types of PUL -- one side feels like vinyl and the other side feels like flannel. I have another type, one side is shiny and the other side feels like very lightweight flannel (this one is very soft) Is the vinyl side the PUL side? Thanks.

Robyn from Australia said...

I have always wanted to make some of these, so now with your directions I can thank you very much.
Robyn from Australia.

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