This DIY lunch bag made from oilcloth is a stylish way to take your lunch and also makes a useful gift for a friend. With some basic sewing skills and a small piece of oilcloth, you can easily make a homemade lunch sack to brighten up your meal.

This easy pattern can also be used to make a doodle bag or the most adorable felt lunch playset for kids. So fun!

DIY Reusable Lunch Bag Made from Oil Cloth

Lunch Time!

A group of friends and I share a tradition of taking our kids’ teacher’s lunch during teacher appreciation week. We tally up the number of lunches we need, notify our teachers and then gather in the morning to assemble the lunches. One friend makes this delicious chicken salad, another brings croissants for the sandwiches, one brings fruit, another makes a wonderful pasta salad, and another friend makes these awesome brownies. We add a water bottle for an easy drink and I take care of the packaging.

Last year I made these paper lunch sacks, but this year I made reusable lunch bags with oilcloth. It only took minutes to make each one and it will be something the teacher can use all year long.

What is oilcloth?

Oilcloth is a tightly woven fabric that is treated on one side (usually with linseed oil) to give it a waterproof finish. The fabric is usually cotton, but can also be linen, and the finish makes it easily wipe-able. You can find it at most fabric stores and is often used to make table cloths.

Here Are the Supplies You Need

  • cardboard to make pattern
  • 2- 15 X 12 inch pieces of oilcloth fabric
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • clothespins or clips
  • thread
  • sewing machine

How to Sew a Cute lunch bag

Step one: Make a pattern out of cardboard measuring 15 x 12. Cut a 2 1/2 inch square out of each bottom corner.

lunch bag pattern drawing
DIY Lunch Bag Pattern

Step Two: Take two pieces of oilcloth right sides together and draw around your template. Cut out. I used small clothespins to hold the pieces together.

TIP: Mini clothespins work great but I have become a huge fan of these plastic sewing clips made for sewing.

two cut pieces of oilcloth right sides together clipped together with clothespins

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

oilcloth and clothespin

Step Four: 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, if you have trouble a piece of tape on the bottom of your presser food can help keep the oilcloth from sticking.

oil cloth sewn on sides and bottom

Step Five: Fold in bottom of bag bringing bottom seam and side seam together

pinch corners of lunch bag to sew

Step Six: Pin bag bottom to bag side with clips

fasten corners with clothespins

Step Seven: Sew across on each side

sew along bottom of lunch bag

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

turn down top of lunch bag and top stitch

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

top stitch along sides

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

topstitch detail

Finished! This really is an easy project to make cute lunch bags for friends to take their lunch to work or pack kids’ lunches. You can add an ice pack to keep your lunch cool, and I recommend hand washing the bag if you have a spill. I would really love to know, do you call it a lunch sack OR a lunch bag–and where are you from? I find it is called both here in the midwest.

If you’re sending this cute lunch sack with a loved one, you’ll want to make sure that you add one of these cool lunch box notes (over 100 designs to choose from). Stay tuned for a reusable snack bag and sandwich bag sewing pattern as we are trying to get away from single use plastic bags at our house and start using more reusable storage bags.

lunch box note laying on food inside an open lunch box

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More Cute Lunch Bag Ideas

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About Cindy Hopper

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  1. Hello,
    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!!!

  2. 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!


  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 😛 xx

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. Hi!
    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?

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