Reusable Sandwich Bags

Get ready for a delightful summer picnic in the park with these reusable sandwich bags! Made from oilcloth, these bags are easy and fun to whip up in a variety of fun, summery prints.

Finding your oilcloth

Oilcloth is also called woven PUL fabric (polyurethane laminated fabric). Though it looks like a thick vinyl, you’ll notice that the back side of oilcloth fabric is woven rather than having the smooth feel of the front.

My local quilt shop sells large bolts of oilcloth for around $9 per yard, and I’ve also purchased it from Oilcloth Addict on Etsy. Fabric designers have really jumped on board with the oilcloth trend, so you’ll find laminated fabrics from Anna Maria Horner (including the new LouLouThi collection) as well as designer prints by Amy Butler, Jennifer Paganelli and others, though the prices are higher. If you shop online for project materials, just make sure you don’t order flannel-backed fabric, which is harder to clean.

For this tutorial, you can make 6 sandwich bags from a half-yard of oilcloth, making your cost as low as 75 cents per bag. Just think of how much money you could save on plastic baggies over time! Once sewn, these durable snack bags are easy to rinse out in the sink and air dry.

Oilcloth Sandwich Bags Tutorial

Finished size: 6.5″ x 7″ folded

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 yard of oilcloth (makes 6 bags) or a fat quarter (makes 3 bags)
  • Velcro, .75″ wide
  • White or coordinating thread
  • Glue stick
  • Ruler and scissors or rotary cutter
  • Sewing Machine with zig-zag and blanket stitches


1. Each bag is made from a cut of oilcloth that is 16.25 inches x 7 inches. Using your rotary cutter and ruler, measure and cut your six pieces as shown in the diagram. The scraps can be saved for decoration or a 5-inch wide snack bag.

This is what your bag will look like unfolded, along with measurements.

2. Take your oilcloth rectangle, and place it in front of you with the pattern facing down. Fold up the bottom 6.5″ and crease with your fingers. (When folded, the bag is 9.5″ tall, including the opened flap, which is 3″.) Now, fold down the top flap like an envelope and crease.

3. Cut a 3-inch strip of velcro, and separate the fuzzy and scratchy sides. Lightly apply glue stick to adhere each velcro strip in place.

  • Attach the rough velcro .5″ down from what is now the top of the flap (attach to WRONG side of oilcloth).
  • Attach the fuzzy velcro strip 1.75″ from top of opened pocket (RIGHT side of oilcloth) with glue stick. (Refer to above diagrams above for velcro placement.)

4. Open up the folded flap and straight stitch both velcro strips on with your sewing machine, turning at the corners and sewing all the way around. Since the velcro may slip, hold with your fingers and tackle the patterned side of the oilcloth first.

5. To add a monogram, simply create a large letter in a Word document, choose your font, and print. (For the “S” and “J,” I used Arial Black, size 320, and applied an outline to the font to waste less ink.) Place your printout on top of oilcloth and cut through both layers using sharp scissors. Use a craft knife if you have a letter with small circles.

6.  Apply monogram to outside of bag with a glue stick (use sparingly). Zig-zag stitch the letter applique to what will become the outside of your bag, to either the front or the back. The applique will slide out of place on the patterned side, so stitch this piece first and hold it in place while sewing. I added long strips of oilcloth as accents.

7. Refold the sandwich bag using the creases from earlier (top flap remains open for now), and hold in place with a paper clip on the fold.

8. With the monogram and velcro now attached, it’s time to turn your oilcloth into a sandwich pouch. Set your sewing machine to a wide blanket stitch and test out on a scrap piece of fabric or paper. (If you need a guide, aim for stitches that are about 1/4″ long and 3/8″ apart. I used my sewing machine’s widest stitch.)

Online Quilting Class

Begin to blanket stitch the bag together, starting where the wrong sides meet on the right side. You’ll want to stitch so close to the edge that your stitches actually fall off the side of the bag and wrap around  the raw edges. If your stitches catch on the oilcloth, adjust your needle position a bit to the right. Continue the blanket stitch around all four sides of the bag, including the opened flap. (For the flap, you’ll be sewing through a single layer of oilcloth, so this is merely decorative).

Note: If you are planning to spend all day in the sun with your picnic fare, keep your sandwich bags in the shade to avoid emitting any non-safe chemicals into your food. As a general rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t want to heat it up in a microwave, don’t let it bake in the sun. This sandwich sized bag fits pretty large slices of bread, though you can make reusable snack bags that are slightly smaller or larger, depending on your needs.

Is oilcloth food-safe?
There is a lot of discussion about oilcloth and food, and you can find more resources and a lengthy discussion on the topic at CraftStylish and Mothering. One alternative is to cover regular fabric in layers of natural beeswax. Another idea is to line fabric with thick, resealable Ziploc bags.

If you’ve enjoyed this sandwich pouch tutorial, why not whip up some bags as gifts? They are great for lunches at school, work or a summertime picnic at the park. If you make some of these reusable snack bags, please let us know with a comment. You are also welcome to add your project photos to the Craft Buds Flickr group!

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  73 comments for “Reusable Sandwich Bags

  1. June 18, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I’m going to try these! I have a yard of laminate on a roll in my closet that I bought over a year ago (I HAD to have it!) and have been at a loss on what to use it for. :-)

  2. June 19, 2011 at 5:11 am

    These are such a great idea~ So much better than throwing away plastic bags with EVERY snack! Love the design and the fabric.. I am soo going to try these! Thanks for sharing!

  3. June 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I like these a lot. I’ve seen them done in fabric too, but didn’t like the thought of stains. This would be perfect.

  4. June 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    This is a great idea! I can get oilcloth near by and could absolutely see myself using your tute. Thanks!

  5. June 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Lovely idea -and what pretty oilcloth you found!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  6. June 20, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I had experimented (unsuccessfully) with some reusable snack bag ideas but I am excited to try yours . The info on the PUL was much appreciated too, as I could not find much information on it. So glad I found you through Round Tuit Linky – I am your newest follower! :)


  7. June 20, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    This is a fabulous tutorial!
    Would you be willing to link it up at our weekly link party?
    It is a Playdate!


    • June 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      Thanks Lori! Just linked up the tutorial at your link party and added your button to our Linky page!

  8. June 20, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Thanks for the tute! I love how they look, I’ve pinned this so I can hopefully make them soon!

  9. June 20, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    This is such a fantastic idea! I loved it so much that I featured you on my weekly Tutorial Tuesday-

    Be sure to come grab your featured button and link up other great projects on my weekly link party.

    Newlyweds on a Budget

  10. June 20, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    I LOVE YOUR BLOG! All of these ideas are FABULOUS!

    I’m your newest follower and I hope you’ll be mine too! My BIGGEST GIVEAWAY EVER is going on RIGHT NOW with over $500 in products and prizes!

    Creative blessings, Brynn

  11. CeLynn
    June 21, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Love your way cute baggies :) These have been on my to do list for a while now. I hope to get to them this summer!

  12. June 21, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Love it! I have been looking for some cute ideas for gifts for some of the ladies in my family and I will defiantly be making some of these to go with the other things I found.

  13. June 21, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Love those sandwich bags!! Thanks for linking @’Sew Cute Tuesday’!

  14. June 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I have wondered what this fabric could be used for, and what a great idea to make bags out of it!
    Mrs. Hearts

  15. June 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I LOVE oilcloth and the designs you found are fabulous. Love your bags!!

  16. San
    June 21, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    please post this on my Reap What You Sew linky this week! Ends each Sunday…

  17. Amber
    June 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    What a great idea! You don’t suppose these could be thrown in the washing machine inside out and hung to dry to do??

  18. June 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Are there different kinds of PUL? I have some that I made cloth diapers with and it seems a lot different than the oilcloth I see at my local quilt shop. I’m trying to figure out if all PUL is safe for food. Thanks for the tutorial. Great way to go green.

  19. hattie
    June 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    oilcloth is not food-safe. i wish it was because i love it so. if you find a source that says it is food-safe, please post it.

  20. June 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Thanks for all the great comments! A note on this tutorial: I’ve added some links to more information on food-safe alternatives to oilcloth. For my purposes, I would use these bags for food, but I would not leave them in extreme heat (the sun, the dishwasher, the microwave), just like I wouldn’t advise anyone to do with plastic containers. Of course, everyone has varying degrees of interest in this topic, so feel free to check out the links I’ve included in the article. Thanks!

  21. June 22, 2011 at 12:10 am

    I’m going to have to give this a try. Such a cute and clever idea! Thanks for sharing

  22. Kim
    June 22, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Hi there!

    These are adorable and I’ll be making them myself sometime soon. On Oilcloth Addict’s page, she mentions that oilcloth is not necessarily “food safe”.

    Here is what the site said:
    Oilcloth Safety
    Please note that the recent Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) prohibits oilcloth garments such as bibs and aprons or toys for children. While there are no heavy metals in oilcloth, it does contain Phthalates, which softens the plastic coating used to manufacture Oilcloth. With this in mind it may not be suited for Snack Bags and Sandwich Wraps especially for children. I suggest using the more family friendly Laminated Cottons. Also note we plan to expand our selection of this new lux oilcloth in the near future.

    I ADORE oilcloth… have you found evidence that it actually is food safe?

    • June 22, 2011 at 10:33 am

      Sounds like laminated cottons would be more food-friendly, but I am no expert on this. Learning along with the rest of you! I also read something about a material called ripstop nylon, which is said to be food-safe.

      • Christine
        May 10, 2014 at 8:11 am

        Ripstop is VERY slippery. When I was working for a costume shop, I had to use it to make covers for some of the costumes. It was difficult to keep it from slipping around. If you are a beginner and wanting to use ripstop, please, for the sake of your sanity, use LOTS of pins.

  23. June 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    So attractive, and so economic! Love this idea! Thanks for sharing at Blue Cricket’s party today.

  24. June 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I love this idea and that they are re-useable. Even better, they can be washed in the dish washer! Thanks for tutorial. It’s super easy to follow. Please stop by and link up to my Share the Wealth Wednesday Link Party! I’m your newest follower!

    • June 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks for letting us know Laura! Just linked up and added your button to our Linky Parties page.

  25. June 22, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    LOVE it! Thanks for sharing! My kiddos need these!

  26. Glitter
    June 23, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    You have been featured on the Glitter blog from the link party!

  27. June 24, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Great idea! You’ll be featured tomorrow!


    Reasons To Skip The Housework {The Blog}
    Tinker B Boutique {The Shop} {The Email}

  28. JP
    June 24, 2011 at 2:17 am

    If you’re worried about icky things in oilcloth being next to food, look into laminated cotton – it’s quilting cotton laminated with a polyurethane coating that’s supposed to be free of phthalates, vinyl and PVC (although I’d double-check the brand you’re interested in, because it might vary from manufacturer to manufacturer). Amy Butler, Michael Miller and a ton of other designers have really cute laminated cotton out there right now.

    • June 24, 2011 at 10:03 am

      Thanks JP! That is super helpful to hear about the laminated cotton. I’ve heard that new types of food-safe oilcloth are also being developed. :)

  29. June 24, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Hey, just wanted to let you know I featured your link today at SewHappyGeek’s Feature Friday!

  30. June 24, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Great idea! Love the fabrics you chose. If I could sew, I’d try these. 😛

  31. June 24, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    These are great! I may have to try this:) Thanks for sharing the tutorial!!

  32. June 25, 2011 at 2:34 am

    These bags are adorable! Does the sandwich bread stay fresh in the bags?

    • June 25, 2011 at 10:00 am

      If you are taking sandwiches for lunch, absolutely–works just like a disposable plastic bag. :)

  33. June 25, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Love this idea! Pinned it!

  34. June 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Thank you so much for the detailed tutorial. I can’t wait to try this out. When I do, I’ll blog about my experience and come back and share my link with you. Thanks again! – Jess @ OlyMomma

    • June 25, 2011 at 6:43 pm

      Would love that Jessica!

  35. June 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    This is definetly one of my FAVES from the ffa party! I gave you a Saturday Shout Out at Sassy Sites! :)


  36. June 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Those are really great. I am going to give it a try. Thank you. Unfortunatelly, where I live the oil cloth costs 2 to 3 times as much. Ugh. On the other hand, one does not need so much of the cloth and the bags are a great gift. I have never seen something like that before. Thank u

  37. June 25, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Sorry ziploc, these are way to cute to stick with plain old baggies! Love the prints. Thanks for linking up with DIY under $5!

  38. June 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    I so need to make some of these they would be great for me to take to work come visit me at

  39. June 26, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Hi, I’m new here. Love the blog.

    I joined the Flickr group and uploaded a photo of an oilcloth lunch bag I made. With these there’s no concern about the oilcloth contacting the sandwiches.

    Hope you like it 😉

  40. June 26, 2011 at 10:01 am

    I’ve been wanting to try the new laminate fabrics – can’t wait to make these

  41. Jessica
    June 26, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I have some left over stuff that is plain. Is the laminated side on the inside or outside of the bag? These are such a great idea! Thanks for sharing…now I’m going to browse your other stuff!

    • June 26, 2011 at 6:59 pm

      Both sides feel kinda slick, but the outside is the shiny laminate, and the inside is still a plastic-like surface. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  42. June 26, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    These are so great! I’ve been wanting to make them for a while… hopefully sometime soon. Thanks for the great tutorial, and thanks for sharing this at For the Kids Fridays at Sun Scholars! I have passed this link onto my Facebook friends. :)

    Hope to have you back again to share with us at Sun Scholars!


  43. Chrissy
    July 6, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Hi there! Awesome tutorial.
    I did want to mention though that oilcloth and PUL are 2 different things and neither are foodsafe.
    A good alternative is to use ripstop nylon, although that won’t contain liquidy foods very well.
    You can make your own oil cloth though, or beeswax coated cloth and both of those would be foodsafe.

  44. Sharon
    July 25, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I make these and line them with white ripstop nylon to be on the safe side. I also use my serger for the edges. Works well. These are a great seller at craft fairs and my farmers market.

  45. Danielle
    July 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Great tutorial, but oilcloth is toxic. It is made out of PVC and is different than PUL. The old oilcloth was made with flax oil originally, but not anymore except from a few boutique manufacturers. Just wanted to share :)

  46. July 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for the great idea! My daughter will be eating lunch at school every day this year, so I am going to try to make some of these bags to cut down on waste in her lunch box.

  47. Terri
    August 29, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing such a great money and environment saving idea. I let my boys pick pictures (going with firetrucks and a skull and ghosts) to cut out for them instead of a monogram. They are so excited and the instructions are so simple they can help make them!

    • August 29, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      That’s awesome Terri! Please let me know if you make them–I’d love to see pics!

  48. September 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Thank you for this tutorial. I made a couple and featured you in my blog. Please take a look. My kids love eating out of them at school and I love not having to use zip lock bags!


  49. Kathleen
    January 17, 2012 at 10:28 am

    I was concerned about using oilcloth for these bags, I was looking to make some for my grandson’s lunch box. I happend upon a site that sells BPA free fabric so I am going to try that. The fabric is a little more expensive but well worth it when the health of my granson is involved.

    • January 17, 2012 at 11:00 am

      That’s a great tip Kathleen! Do you have the website URL? I’d be interested in checking that out. :)

      • Kathleen
        January 17, 2012 at 5:47 pm

        Lindsay, There are several companies that carry the BPA free laminated fabric but I found the best variety, less flowers, at:
        There was also a couple of companies that sell BPA free oil cloth. I just googled” BPA free laminated fabric”. I just wish I could find more patterns suitable for little boys. Good luck.

  50. Molly Marie
    February 12, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Could you use vinal? I accidentally ordered some online. I don’t want to return it because I absolutely love the pattern.

    • February 12, 2012 at 10:32 am

      You could try it with the vinyl, but my guess after having worked with vinyl is that it tends to stick to itself, so the bags might make that “coming apart sound” when you open them. :)

  51. Nancy
    February 26, 2012 at 10:37 am

    For anyone who has a foodsaver vacuum sealing system, you could always line your bags with that – sewn in to make it permanent.

    I bought a bolt of lightweight Heat n’ Bond vinyl covering so I could cover any fabric I choose (cotton of course) and to make these reusable lunch bags, I plan to use some of my foodsaver bag material since I buy that in rolls and can cut what I need.

    That way there is no concern about food safety!

    Just a thought :)

  52. March 31, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    This is EXACTLY what I was looking for! I picked up some adorable oilcloth today and am sooo excited to make these! Goodbye plastic bags, I will not miss you! :)

  53. June 10, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Great tutorial for making your own reusable bags! Thanks so much for sharing! I own my own small business,where I make reusable snack bags and reusable sandwich bags and wanted to let you know that you can always substitute the oilcloth for regular natural fabric (just for those squeamish about using oilcloth). It works great for me. Your tutorial is very clear and consise, with great photos too! Thanks for helping others to make the switch to reusables!

  54. jamie
    August 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Lovely post! I cannot wait to make these for my family for our lunches. I’m so tired of wasting ziplocs.

  55. Vickie
    August 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Love this tutorial. I will definitely be making some!

  56. crafty
    August 31, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    This is just a warning that some oilcloth contains lead, so be sure to find lead-free oilcloth if you are using it in direct contact with food.

  57. October 20, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    You can also use ProCare fabric as your lining. It runs about $12+shipping for a 72″ wide yard and is BPA, lead and Pthalate free – the company that produces it will send you a CPSIA GCC testing certificate if you need one. It’s also produced as “food grade”. It’s not particularly heat tolerant though so watch your irons! This is what a lot of people use to make wetbags but I haven’t found anything to seal it with that is food-safe. While I think that a velcro or fold-over bag would let in some air, I make sandwich wraps too and today I found my son’s PB sandwich from Monday in his lunchbox (it’s Saturday) – the bread wasn’t stale.

    • October 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      Great tips! Thank you!

  58. Jean Gordon
    August 26, 2013 at 11:52 am

    All I can think when I see these are leaky sandwiches made with meat and mayo, etc.leaking into the seams. We are constantly told not to wash and reuse any plastic zip bags that have contained meat. It is not safe; good breeding ground for mold/bacteria they say. Sometimes in the long run it is not wise to replace everything with the

  59. shana
    August 27, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I am trying these. JOANN’S carries oilcloth and they currently have a 60 percent coupon so half yard will cost almost nothing. 6 bags for pennies. Thanks

  60. Kathleen Graunke
    September 28, 2013 at 11:06 am

    My daughter has 3 daughters… and was going thru a ton of plastic sandwich bags a week. I made these using PUL fabric but used a name brand storage freezer bag as the “fabric” for the lining. After school my daughter would just turn the bags inside out and rinse under the faucet. The freezer bag lining lasted the entire school year. All of my granddaughters friends think they are cool and want some too!

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