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Lunch time!

Posted by  ·  May 8, 2008  ·  Last Updated: May 26, 2016

A group of friends and I share a tradition of taking our kids’ teachers lunch during teacher appreciation week. We tally up the amount of lunches we need, notify our teachers and then gather in the morning to assemble the lunches. One friend makes delicious chicken salad, another brings croissants for the sandwiches, one brings fruit, another makes wonderful pasta salad and another awesome brownies. I take care of the packaging. Last year I made these sacks. This year I made oilcloth lunch sacks.

How to make an oil cloth lunch bag

I first made a pattern out of cardboard measuring 15 x 12. Cut a 2 1/2 inch square out of each bottom corner.

Take two pieces of oilcloth right sides together and draw around your template. Cut out. I used small clothes pins to hold the pieces together.

I used pinking shears to cut across the top (very optional- I thought it gave the edge a finished look)

Sew down each side and across the bottom. I used a stitch length of 5 and 1/4 inch seams on the entire bag. My machine handled the oilcloth beautifully, but If you have any troubles, Sew Mama Sew has a wonderful article on sewing with oilcloth.

Fold in bottom of bag bringing bottom seam and side seam together

Pin bag bottom to bag side with clips

Sew across on each side

Turn bag right side out and fold in top of bag about 1/2″ and then top stitch

Measure about 2 1/2 inches from middle side seam on all four corners, finger press, clip with clothes pins

Top-stitch closely to the corner fold on each of the four sides


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Leave a Comment


  1. Loretta
    Thursday, April 25th, 2019
    Thank's For Great Instructions W/
  2. Tiffany
    Wednesday, October 7th, 2015
    I just wanted to say thankyou for posting this tutorial and also let you know that I linked you on my blog!
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  4. Friday, December 6th, 2013
    I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I
    will bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently.

    I'm quite certain I will learn lots of new stuff right here!
    Best of luck for the next!
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  6. Eliz
    Saturday, April 20th, 2013
    I know this link was from a while ago, but can you tell me how much fabric I would need for this? I am having my mother-in-law make it but not sure how much fabric to tell her. I am assuming not a whole lot, but think 1 yard is too little?
    Thank you!!!
  7. Emilie
    Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
    Hi. I just want to say thank you for posting this pattern with pictures. I am new to sewing so the pictures really helps me and I appreciate it.
    I made this lunch bag for my husband. He loves Batman so I chose Batman fabric and I also added some velcro so he will be able to keep it closed while also using the velcro as a handle. I hope that makes sense!
    Again, thank you!

  8. Saturday, October 20th, 2012
    Lovely! Thank you for the tutorial.
  9. Jennifer
    Sunday, September 2nd, 2012
    Here's a tip on the pattern - a grocery sack is 12" wide and 17" tall. I found it was sturdy enough for the pattern and handy, since I didn't have any cardboard around the house.
  10. Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012
    I love this oilcloth lunch tote! I included it in my collection of diy lunch bags and totes here:


    Thanks for posting!
  11. holly
    Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
    Where do you find pretty oilcloth? My fabric stores don't carry it:(
  12. Diane Szlucha
    Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
    I am going to do this with larger measurements and then my first step will be to sew the bottom together and add two long straps that will loop from the bottom around the top and back to the bottom on each side to make a shopping or market back. Sturdy, can be wiped down to clean and doesn't favor one store over another. Then I will follow the rest of the directions.
  13. Louise Richardson
    Thursday, October 13th, 2011
    i just made this... absolutely love it!! my first time using oilcloth.. i keep buying it because its pretty and not having an actual use for it :P xx
  14. YahYah
    Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
    Perfect. I am making fun lunch bags for the grandkids. Thank you
  15. Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
    Could I share this pattern with our Quilt Guild?
  16. Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
    Hi! Thanks for this great tutorial! I made one (with more to come) ... here's a link if you want to check it out:

    love your blog - thanks again for the easy to follow instructions! :-)
  17. Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
    this is a great tutorial! i just made one using this and it worked great; i did have to use tissue paper for the top stitching but that made a HUGE difference and made this doable on my machine! thanks :-)
  18. Mia
    Monday, November 8th, 2010
    Thanks so much for this!
    I adapted the idea and made a huge storage bag out of Thomas The Tank fabric for my kids' train set! They love it and it looks much nicer than plastic bins.
  19. Emm
    Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
    Thanks so much for this tutorial. My younger sister and I were planning to make these ages ago and got 2 fabrics from Mendel's. It turned out that we measured drastically incorrectly and now have enough oilcloth for 16 lunch sacks! I'm going to make a bunch and give them to my friends. This is so easy; thanks again!
  20. Melanie
    Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
    this looks like a lot of fun to make! does anyone know if you can make this with cotton and would the pattern then have to be altered or something?
  21. Osnat
    Monday, May 17th, 2010
    thank you! great idea!
  22. Taylor Lee
    Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
    this is amazing! i've been wanting to get a Vera Bradley lunch sack but i don't want to spend the money. I've just recently gotten really into sewing after my mom taught me how to use the sewing machine. This is a great idea for me to use with some stylish fabric! Thanks!
  23. Saturday, April 24th, 2010
    This is so cute! I am going to link this on my blog after I complete mine. :) I also want to link another of your projects. You have such great ideas!

  24. Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
    So cute!! Thanks for sharing. I linked to it on my blog http://ificould-ificould.blogspot.com/2010/04/oil-cloth-lunch-sacks.html
  25. Sunday, December 13th, 2009
    What a nice tutorial of lunch bags. Really good I can use this, making this adorable bag is absolutely lovely. For me, hand-made stuffs are absolutely sweet when you give it to the person you really cherish. Because you exert your effort just to create such reusable gift. ;-) Well if you're a type of a person who's not good in sewing you might like to check it site --> Happy Tiffin The site offers a variety of steel tiffins made from quality stainless steel food grade in which you can guarantee that its safe to use.
  26. Friday, November 27th, 2009
    this afternoon I'll write a post about bags and I'll add this idea on my post :D

    bye bye Laura
  27. michele
    Friday, October 16th, 2009
    thanks SO much for this tutorial!! i made one and linked to your blog!

  28. Friday, September 18th, 2009
    I have the perfect amount of oilcloth leftover from a picnic blanket to make a few lunch sacks. It's on my list for this weekend. Thanks!

    Hope to post pics of the finished products on Monday, but for now, I've linked to your post here: http://make-happy.blogspot.com/2009/09/my-weekend-to-craft-list.html
  29. Saturday, September 12th, 2009
    Thanks so much for the tutorial. I just made them for my kids for the first day of school. I am still "perfecting" my sewing skills (hahhahaha) and even I was able to make them quickly. Thanks for sharing.
  30. Friday, August 28th, 2009
    I love your site. I used your pattern for a lunch bag to make this for my son:


    I gave you credit for the pattern. I hope it was ok to do this!
  31. Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
    I have been looking for a simple lunch bag pattern. I have the cutest oilcloth that will now become lunch bags! Thanks for sharing such a detailed tutorial!!!

  32. Marti
    Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
    This is a great pattern. Much easier than the one published on the Martha Stewart website. To add a little contrast to the bag, I used two different colors/designs of fabric. It looks cute when they meet in the crease and rolled over the top of the contrasting piece.
  33. Holly
    Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
    This is a Fabulous idea and Thank You not only for showing us how to construct the bags, but a great website to purchase oilcloth! I make my children's lunch almost every day, and every day I use those little plastic bags I think about how wasteful it is to use them! Because of your cute tutorial, I am going to make these and matching sandwich/snack bags as well to cut down on our carbon footprints! Thanks again!
  34. Tuesday, March 31st, 2009
    What a great idea. The teacher's must love you for this. Very cute!
  35. kk
    Thursday, February 26th, 2009
    so==here is a good websit to visit if looking for oil cloth and is in the us
    if this doesnt work go to www.MENDELS.com and search oil cloth
  36. kk
    Thursday, February 26th, 2009
    will is soak through will it leak
    and what r some cute colors for an almost 12 year old
  37. mimi
    Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
    is oilcloth waterproof? I've never used it before.
    • cindylouh
      Thursday, February 26th, 2009
      Mimi, yes it is waterproof------feels like vinyl, maybe stiffer.
  38. kk
    Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
    the velcro is isnt it?????
    and were did u get it????
  39. kk
    Monday, February 23rd, 2009
    this is ssssssssssooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cute,
    i guess i will make one for softball season and school!
  40. Cynthia Howe
    Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
    Add a strip of velcro to the top to make it spillproof : )
  41. Miko's Girl
    Thursday, February 12th, 2009
    This is too cute and it doesn't look very hard. I may try this.
  42. Beth
    Thursday, January 29th, 2009
    Darling! I wonder if a person could use regular fabric with iron-on interfacing to strengthen it, then make carry bags? The possibilities are endless.
  43. Joanne
    Saturday, December 20th, 2008
    You are too clever! I am impressed at how something that looks like it took tons time and effort can be done with a few straight seams! Kudos to you!! I have to try it!
  44. Mary
    Saturday, December 13th, 2008
    I was looking for oilcloth for baby bibs as I keep children in my home and found a wonderful sight with tons of oilcloth at really great prices. I don't have any affiliation with this store, just found it this morning through searching for 'oilcloth'.
    Thanks for sharing your instructions. Great idea!!!!
  45. Airwalk Sneakers
    Friday, November 21st, 2008
    Thank you Thank you Thank you.........
  46. Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
    Thanks so much. I am hoping to make a lunch bag for my sister to use for work. I know she will love it.
  47. Ricky
    Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
    Cool very colorful thank you for the tutorial
  48. Liza
    Thursday, October 2nd, 2008
    Wow! Awesome idea it looks stylish very creative nice work... :)
  49. Sunday, August 24th, 2008
    Love it! I've been looking for a tutorial for this. I'm about to start school again (college) and I have back-to-back classes all day! Which means I have to bring lunch. I'm so excited to get started on this fun project!


  50. Sue B.
    Monday, August 4th, 2008
    Walmart carries a form of oil cloth. The stuff you can make picnic table cloths out of. We just make them out of cotton. They can be lined with insulating material(quilt batting or the stuff you line oven mitts or pot holders with) and then lined again with a contrasting fabric.(you wind up with 3 layers. ) Also you can put an outside pouch on them for napkins and cutlery and velcro closures. I love them! Our schools are very "green" conscious and we just use one layer of cotton material so that they fold flat after use as not to take up too much room in the back pack or locker. A very cold juice or canned drink will keep the lunch cool enough to be safe. Great tutorial!
  51. Korby
    Wednesday, May 21st, 2008
    I love your ideas. They are SO GREAT!!! I need to go thank my sister inlaw for passing your blog on.
  52. KittyPants
    Friday, May 16th, 2008
    P. A. Manders Says:
    May 13, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    I hate to be a spoil sport….these are so lovely. But isn’t oilcloth based on a vinyl of some kind or other? And doesn’t vinyl stink….and make the food taste sad or bad?
    P.A., I've used oilcloth for tablecloths, and nope, it doesn't stink at all or make anything taste bad. It's made with PVC, and seems to be fine for food use. It's also tough and stain-proof. I love it!
  53. Friday, May 16th, 2008
    Okay, you know... clothespins. Never woulda thunk it. I've always used binding clips.

    Great tutorial. Bookmarking your site for future reference.

  54. Melissa
    Thursday, May 15th, 2008
    Does oil cloth sew like billboard vinyl?
  55. Wednesday, May 14th, 2008
    Great tutorial!

    Hart's Fabric has a good selection of oil cloths too:
  56. Christine
    Wednesday, May 14th, 2008
    I found you via whip up and wanted to give kudos for a great tutorial! Cloth lunch sacks are so handy and I love that you can fit the fabric to a personality. I'm bookmarking your tutorial for future use!
  57. Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
    P.S. I am so glad to find you via the craftzine site, and I have subscribed to your blog.
  58. Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
    Thanks for the great photos and all! It's always the simple things that give me the most trouble, because I dive in with no plan and no idea what I'm doing. This is a GREAT plan.
  59. Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
    Great! I made a lunch bag (with fabric treated with iron-on plasticy stuff) but your pattern looks like an improvement from what I did. Thanks for sharing!
  60. Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
    I hate to be a spoil sport....these are so lovely. But isn't oilcloth based on a vinyl of some kind or other? And doesn't vinyl stink....and make the food taste sad or bad?
  61. Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
    Fantastic! I've been wanting to make these for ages! Thanks for the clear instructions for a newbie sewer like me!
  62. Monday, May 12th, 2008
    I love these! Guess what I'll be making when I get back from my vacation? :D
  63. marykz
    Monday, May 12th, 2008
    hey ! you were tagged by Craftzine's daily blog of cool stuff!!! Awesome!

  64. Angie L.
    Sunday, May 11th, 2008
    I cannot wait to make those sacks - they are so cute!!!
  65. Sue
    Saturday, May 10th, 2008
    Wow, great tutorial. Thank you. I'll be making some of those, too!
  66. Saturday, May 10th, 2008
    What a great idea! I love that you take Teacher Appreciation Week so seriously. I look forward to doing the same when my own children are in school.
  67. Friday, May 9th, 2008
    alright, spill it. where did you find oilcloth around here?!?!?!?!
  68. Friday, May 9th, 2008
    Those look great, Cindy. And thanks for your list of ideas. From me, and our teachers!
  69. Candace
    Friday, May 9th, 2008
    Those are great, I'll bet all the teachers hope to get your children in their classes.
  70. Lindsey
    Friday, May 9th, 2008
    I wonder if you could use cotton DIY PUL for these. I have some extra from diaper making, I guess I should go try it!

    Very cute, and a great idea!!
  71. Friday, May 9th, 2008
    Thank you so much for the instructions on the bag. Where did you get your oilcloth?

    I was up making monogrammed keychains for all of my kids teachers. I am glad this falls once a year!
  72. Friday, May 9th, 2008
    Love them! Your kids have some lucky teachers. :)
  73. Friday, May 9th, 2008
    I loved the tutorial... I can think of so many ways your little bags could bless others. It makes me want to go out and get some oil cloth :) Thank you so much for your efforts and sharing all your hard work.
  74. Zarah
    Friday, May 9th, 2008
    I just love your cute ideas and wonderful tutorials - you always make me want to CREATE and give gifts!
    Thank you so much for that!
  75. Thursday, May 8th, 2008
    You rock, as always, my dear! Beautiful oilcloth, and such stylish bags. I so wish you were my neighbor. Oh, the fun we would have.
  76. Thursday, May 8th, 2008
    I feel terrible. I didn't know there was any such thing as teacher appreciation week!** I think there should be a handout given to all preschool mommies clearly stating all gift giving holidays!!

    So, keeping that in mind... Do you have any excellent ideas for end of school gifts for the two preschool teachers? I must redeem myself.

    (**I didn't see any other smarty-pants mommies delivering appreciation gifts, so I was not alone.. but still. I feel terrible).
  77. Thursday, May 8th, 2008
    Hey; those lunch sacks look adorable! That is exactly what I was planning on doing with my oil cloth that I got in Canton, but didn't have a pattern yet. Thanks for the tip!

    I got it from a vendor there named Sunshine fabrics. In canton it sold for $8/yard.

    I also found this site that looked promising:

    Hope that helps!
  78. Thursday, May 8th, 2008
    Oh, I so, so, so, so needed this! I tried to do something just like this (to hold diapers and a tiny wipe case in my purse and totally botched it. You've given me the courage to try again, maybe with the matching oilcloth changing pad!

    Amy--our local upholstery fabric store (Denver fabrics (.com)) sells it, maybe you have something similar?

  79. Thursday, May 8th, 2008
    OK smarty pants- I love yr brain! Now, where did you get the olicloth?