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
- 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.)
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!