Oilcloth Lunch Tote Tutorial

Well, if you read this post, then you know I was hoping to get some time to do this tutorial. I'm not sure how it happened, since my husband has a stomach bug, we installed new bamboo flooring in our bedroom (meaning we did it ourselves!) and my 4 year old is sick with possibly strep throat.... Keeping all that in mind, here is my tutorial for this super cute oilcloth lunch tote.
All you'll need for this is about 1/2 yard of oilcloth and your sewing machine. I'd recommend using a size 16 needle (or one recommended for heavy weight fabric).

Some useful links:
  • tips for sewing with oilcloth at Sew, Mama, Sew.
  • here is a great post about the difference between laminated fabric and oilcloth along with some sewing tips.
I used some old oilcloth for this tutorial and a laminated cotton for this project. Oilcloth makes for a stiffer finished project, but is pretty tough to work with. I think what you'll find around now falls more into the category of laminated cotton.

OK, so here are your pieces.

2 front/back pieces 11.5" x 9"
1 bottom piece 7" x 9"
2 side pieces 11.5" x 7"

2 handle pieces 12" x 3" (you could also use webbing to save time)

My cut pieces.

First sew the handles. I wanted my finished handle to be about 1" wide, so I folded each side over 1" to the wrong side. The nice thing about sewing with this kind of fabric is that you don't have to finish the edges.

Sew a seam down the center to secure the overlapping pieces and then sew another seam right next to the first.

Take your front/back panels and fold the top over 1/2" towards the wrong side. Then mark 2 inches in from the edge. Align the handle at the 2" mark and with the folded edge and sew a seam along the top and bottom of the folded edge. Do this for both the front and back panels.

Take your 2 side panels and fold over 1/2" to the wrong side the same way you did for the front/back panels (do this along the shorter side which will be the top). Sew a seam along the top and bottom of the fold.

Then sew each side panel to the bottom panel with right sides together. Make sure to sew the non-finished side to the bottom.

Now, take one of your front panels and align the top edge with the finished, folded over edge of the side panel and sew a seam (1/4" seam allowance) all the way down the side, stopping about 1/4" short of the bottom panel.

Pivot the front panel so that now the bottom of the front is aligned with the bottom panel and again sew a seam with 1/4" seam allowance, stopping 1/4 short of the end.

Pivot again and sew up the other side panel in the same manner.

Here's what you should end up with.

If you haven't given up on sewing with oilcloth, repeat this for the other front panel and you've got a lunch tote!

Pack a lunch and you're ready to go.

Maybe grab a cute friend to take along too....


  1. Excelente tutorial. Ficou muito lindo o projeto.

  2. Hi Zaaberry,

    I’m one of the Editors at AllFreeSewing.com and I just wanted to let you know I have linked to your project on our site. You can see the project here.

    Oilcloth Lunch Tote Tutorial

    It's a great project our readers will love to make. Please email me with any questions.


    Kirsten Kwon

  3. I'm not crafty, but it came out so nicely I want to tackle my sewing machine phobia.

  4. I had some oilcloth left over after covering our chairs and tried this bag. It was hard at first because it kept sticking but I tried tissue paper under it and it worked nicely. This came out great! My mom will love it. Thanks for the awesome tute!

  5. great tute - I checked out your link on Sew Mama Sew re "Tips for Working With Oilcloth" and I have one left to add - use your walking foot. It worked great with the apron I made, and now I'm ready to tackle your bag!

  6. This is exactly what I've been looking for - my Whole Foods bag is on its last leg!