diy wednesdays: woodgrain oilcloth lunchbag

recently, we’ve been making an effort to a) pack ourselves delicious lunches, and b) rid our lives of wasteful, disposable plastic bags. we find it’s much easier to accomplish these things when we’ve got a cute and useful alternative. in honor of this week’s wonderful guest bloggers, we thought it would be both fun and oh-so-appropriate to whip up this faux bois oilcloth lunchbag. brown-baggin’ it has never been so fun! click here for the full project or just click “read more” below.

-derek & lauren

here’s what you’ll need:

-1/2 yard woodgrain oilcloth (available here)
-sewing machine and thread
-velcro sticky dots

1. cut the oilcloth into 3 panels. one that measures 28″ x 8″, and two that measure 12″ x 5″.

2. fold down the top and bottom short ends of the long piece and stitch it 1/4″ from the edge to create the hem at the top of the bag. create a matching hem at the top of each side panel.

3. with right sides together, place one side panel on top of the large piece. Matching up the tops and the side edge, stitch (with a 1/4″ seam allowance) until you get 1/4″ from the end of the side panel. clip the large piece at a 90 degree angle and rotate the side panel to create the bottom gusset. continue sewing the bottom and up the other side. repeat for opposite side panel.

4. turn bag right side out and topstitch seams.

5. apply velcro sticky dots to create closure.


I had one of these during my elementary school career, in stylish neon purple and teal nylon. Very handy!

Tragically, oilcloth and vinyl in general is an environmental disaster, so probably not the *best* choice for a greener lunch bag.

Even other plastics are often less polluting and carcinogenic than vinyl. Time to start up the consumer pressure for woodgrain hemp, I guess.


love it! what kind of needle did you use with the oilcloth? i’ve never worked with it.


very nice, maybe I will start packing my lunch!

lauren, it appears to be pine…walnut is actually much darker (naturally) than pine (my husband is obsessed with woodworking right now, what can I say?)

Prêt à Voyager

Too cute and love that it’s in keeping with the theme of the guest blog.


p.s. Congrats on being the cover models on “The Nest” !!!!!


Thank you, Design*Sponge, for having consistently-awesome DIY projects. Seriously.


Supercute! But does anyone know if oilcloth has PVC in it?


I think it’s so cute, but then I read Sarah’s comment and was bummed. She’s right–oilcloth is vinyl..not good. However, Joel Dewberry has this nifty new cotton fabric collection…(ginseng) and two of the prints (see this page … are totally wood grain looking. So, make a little bag out of this and and made your own oilcloth the old fashioned way…fabric like canvas or linen and coated in linseed oil and paint. Modern oilcloth is made with canvas impregnated with vinyl. See here..
I haven’t tried but it probably is totally better for the earth.


I’m sorry to be the one to spoil the fun but oilcloths contain oils of different kinds (such as benzene)in its making, meaning it’s not healty to have them in contact with food. Why not use a material bag lines with safe plastic inside?


Great idea to use something other than paper, but honestly I think the pattern looks ugly.

Maeve Osbyo

I like the wood effect on the vinyl! Also don’t know if recycled shopping bags are better than oilcloth (figure they must be though, no?), but I saw a lunchbag made from old plastic shopping bags. Pretty cool effects with the melting and all

I’m hungry!



Where-oh-where did you find the background fabric in the photos?!


Thank you for the tutorial! I am not all that skilled in sewing oilcloth, though I did give it a try. Yours is much cuter! and I love the woodgrain pattern.


I have tried 3 or 4 times to make this bag and always got lost it at the corners. Nobody said “90 degree angle. I’ll try again.

I put scotch tape on the bottom of my presser foot and used a #16 needle. Had no problems.


Is benzene really a threat once the oilcloth is made? Can you direct me to a site with more information?
One of my clients wants a large number of these bags made, and I’m concerned about the risk to the end-user, as well as when I’m stitching them.

Wachstuch Anna

Very well done and the color combination .. I recommend your site to our customers in demand as a design example.
Greeting oilcloth
Wachstuch Anna