oilcloth lunch bag

by Dorie on July 31, 2007

oilcloth lunch bag

A lot of hope rests in this little lunch bag:

  • healthier lunches
  • savings of dollars
  • thinner thighs
  • never having to eat the cafeteria’s sloppy joe again
  • etc.

The first time I saw oilcloth, it was in a kids catalog, maybe Magic Cabin or something. A large piece of it had been edged and they were using it as an under-highchair splat mat. I thought it was pretty awesome, but we were beyond the age where we needed a splat mat. It’s taken me this long to realize that you can make things other than splat mats out of oilcloth.

Make Your Sack Lunch, a lunch bag tutorial

You will need:

  • 1/4 yard (not fat) oilcloth. I got mine at Sew Mama Sew. Modern oilcloth is pretty much like vinyl and not oiled cloth
  • 1/4 yard thin batting
  • 1/4 yard other plastic fabric for lining. I used a shower curtain because I had it left over from making sit-upons.
  • 3.5 in piece of velcro

EDIT – I thought I’d respond to a couple questions I got from people:
The oilcloth can be a bit of a challenge to sew, so you will probably be wrestling the material in your machine a bit more than you would with quilters’ cotton. You can line the bag with something other than vinyl. The vinyl was what I had handy, and it is easily wipeable, so that’s what I opted for. This pattern would also work for sturdy, non-plastic materials, like canvas. Hope you’re enjoying this and making some awesome lunch bags!

    lunch bag step 1

  1. Cut one 7in x 31in rectangle from the two plastic fabrics.
    Cut two 4.5in x 13in rectangles of the two plastics.
    Cut the batting the same as the plastics, except make it 1/4in smaller on all sides
  2. lunch bag step 2

  3. For each piece, sandwich the batting between the oilcloth and the vinyl.
  4. lunch bag step 3

  5. Sew the fuzzy side of the velcro to the long piece of oilcloth so that the top of the velcro is 3/5in from the top edge.
  6. lunch bag step 4

  7. With wrong sides facing line up the long edge of one of the smaller side pieces with the edge of the long main panel. Sew along this edge with a 1/4in seam.
  8. lunch bag step 5

  9. When you get 1/4in from the corner, stop and backtack. Turn the long piece at a right angle, folding it along the edge of the short side of the edge piece. Stitch and repeat with the other corner.
  10. Repeat with the other side panel
  11. lunch bag step 6

  12. If the top edges are uneven, trim them. Then sew the prickly side of the velcro right at the top of the wide side of the lunch bag that does not already have velcro.
  13. Stitch around the top edge



Lisa B-K July 31, 2007 at 9:07 pm


Seriously – v v cool.

Chara Michele August 1, 2007 at 5:08 am

It makes lunches look really good too! :)

Amy August 1, 2007 at 5:08 am

I really like the oilcloth fabric, I love green. Thanks for the tutorial, my daughter will love a new lunch bag!

Jeanne August 1, 2007 at 2:08 pm

Oh Oberweis how I miss thee!

Love the lunchbag and think I need to make one.

Lynn August 2, 2007 at 8:08 am

SO cute!
This would make a great teacher gift. You should market these!!

gigi August 7, 2007 at 11:08 am

I’ll be looking for this now. :)

p.s. I love that you’ve established your "pretty" bathroom as a place that has great lighting and a great floor to use as a background for pictures.

kathy August 9, 2007 at 9:08 am

Cool! I was thinking I needed to make some re-usable lunch bags before school started and here I find your tutorial the very same day. Love the idea of putting batting inside. Thank you.

Hedgehog August 29, 2007 at 12:08 am

Bought Marimekko oil cloth this summer – thanks for the inspiraiton!

suki September 14, 2007 at 8:09 am

THIS IS SOOOOOOOOOOO GREAT!!! Can I link your blog to mine?

the aesthetic onion September 14, 2007 at 9:09 am

I did a similar one in fused plastic. See here. http://aestheticonion.blogspot.com/2007/08/fused-plastic-lunchbag.html

Ophelie September 14, 2007 at 4:09 pm

I’d been looking for a lunchbag pattern! Thanks for posting this one.

E to the M September 14, 2007 at 5:09 pm

I’m not really a sewing kind of gal but my daughter and I have decided to try this project together. I have a question: Is there anything wrong with using oilcloth for the inside too?
Also, they were out of most of their oilcloth at Sew Mama Sew so I dis some searching and found a lot here.

Thank you for the tutorial!

e September 21, 2007 at 10:09 pm

there is a cool store in tucson that sells a lot of great patterns in oilcloth (picante) and I have been looking for things to do with it! thanks!!!

krosafcheg October 18, 2007 at 8:10 pm
alice November 7, 2007 at 2:11 am

What a great idea. I want to make two now!

the aesthetic onion November 9, 2007 at 4:11 pm

I noticed there were quite a few click throughs to my fused plastic lunchbag tutorial. That post is now located here.


Florence February 1, 2008 at 9:02 am

I’ve just come over from How about Orange…after seeing your lunch bag listed there. It’s gorgeous and thank you for the great tutorial!

Dawn February 4, 2008 at 7:02 pm

Not made in China…good idea!

Kristie March 27, 2008 at 1:03 pm

I went to the site sewmamasew and couldn’t find oilcloth. i found some on ebay but the selection isn’t great. Can you direct me on more places to buy oilcloth?

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Debby August 9, 2008 at 5:08 pm

I’m going to to try one tonight. You did not mention if you needed a special foot to sew on the oil cloth. Where did you get the beautiful green paisley?
I’m going to embroider names on mine too.
Thank you, you have inspired me!

Sue August 12, 2008 at 5:08 pm

I’ve found lots of oilcloth in many patterns at this site: http://www.ahmercantile.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=10_21_132&osCsid=591422270e117b130e4c771eabb99ca7

They have fabric on sale and are clearing it all out but the oilcloth is not part of the clearance. They will cut the oilcloth to any size you need. Get some friends together and put in a big order–orders of $99.00 get free shipping.

If you are going to sew a lot of oilcloth or vinyl, you should have a teflon foot. I got mine at a local store that sells and services sewing machines. If you are only going to do a couple bags, put masking tape on the bottom of your regular sewing foot . It will work, too.

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Beth August 17, 2008 at 8:08 pm

This is awesome. I have tons of left over oilcloth from a previous project and this is a great way to use some of it, and save the planet at the same time. Thanks!

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If you are going to sew a lot of oilcloth or vinyl, you should have a teflon foot. I got mine at a local store that sells and services sewing machines. If you are only going to do a couple bags, put masking tape on the bottom of your regular sewing foot . It will work, too.

emily April 13, 2009 at 9:04 pm

This is really cool! I’ve been thinking of doing something like this for a while. Thanks for the help!

Anya from PassiFlora magazine April 23, 2009 at 7:04 am

Thank you for the great tutorial. I linked it at PassiFlora magazine (we had a post about reusable lunch bags) http://passifloramag.com/2009/04/money-saving-and-lunch-bags/

maeve May 26, 2009 at 2:05 am

this is so fabulous my sitser made one for herself and now shes making me one caus i love it so much

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featherbed November 10, 2009 at 12:11 pm

love this project!! thanks!

Rosalind Grace January 25, 2010 at 8:01 pm

A walking foot for your sewing machine is fabulous for slippery materials! I highly recommend them. Lovely bag :-)

Stephanie March 23, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Has anyone thought about using a plastic table clothe instead? You know the ones that are plastic on the outside and have the white fabric on the other – sorta like the quilt batting. Any thoughts?

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Cotton Bags April 21, 2010 at 4:04 am

I love that bag. I think I may try a flower appliqué like yours above, very nice.

Sarah May 3, 2010 at 1:05 am

That really is a wonderful idea. Although I am not so good at sewing I think I will have a go.

Janie vanderToorn June 8, 2011 at 11:06 am

Any thoughts on the safety of oilcloth and the plastic lining you used? I really want to make some of these, but I’m concerned about how safe it is to have my food near the fabric.

Danie September 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I made 3 of these as Christmas presents. You can definitely see the progression in skill from the first to the last ones I made.

Amanda Carter November 29, 2011 at 9:11 am

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rillyroo January 5, 2013 at 5:42 am

absolutely love this and so will my grand-daughter starting primary school in 2013 in Australia. THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Marsha August 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Hi Dorie. Love your blog. I do a weekly “Friday Finds” feature on my blog and search out great tutorials for my readers. With school opening coming right up, I’m sharing your Oilcloth Lunch Bag this week. I give credit to you for both the tutorial and the photo. I put a link directly to your blog for the tutorial. I do NOT put the tutorial on my blog, only the link.
Thank you for sharing this. If you prefer to have me remove this link, please email and let me know.


Asmita September 8, 2013 at 11:01 pm

thanks for the great tutorial and fabulous blog. Quick question: how does one wash this? Just machine, or hand wash> I was thinking of lining mine with cloth, quilting cotton if possible and quilt it a bit so the cloth and oil cloth stay together…

Dorie September 15, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Since it’s all oilcloth, I just hand washed. If it was all cotton, you could machine wash.

Lizzie October 23, 2013 at 7:56 am

Oilcloth is not food safe! It is great for many things but I would not put food in it.

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