Oilcloth Tote Tutorial

We love our oilcloth around here and since a bunch of you have requested a tote bag/shopping bag/gift bag DIY, we put one together using this fabulous material. See how we are? We also love bias tape so we threw some of that in too.

My priorities were to make this easy and to use only 1/2 yard of oilcloth because while it’s totally worth it, it’s pretty pricey stuff. Prudent!

And remember that any sweet/clever/weird comment you leave this week could win you 1/2 yard of Nicey Jane oilcloth from our personal stash. Then you can make one too! Will you make one? Have you tried oilcloth yet? What DIY would you like to see on Prudent Baby? (and don’t say carseat cover, say something easy)

Read More for the Oilcloth Tote Tutorial.

What you need:

• 1/2 yard oilcloth. You can also use canvas. If you use something lighter, like cotton, you should line the bag and add interfacing which would be very easy. I love this project so much that I’m sure we will share a lined version in the near future.

• 2 – 26″ lengths of cotton webbing for straps

• 3 yards of 1/2″ double-fold bias tape

• Basic sewing supplies, sewing machine, masking tape, glue

1. This is how I measured out the 1/2 yard of Oilcloth, which is Echino by Etsuko Furuya Flower Bed. Fabricworm has Natural in stock right now which is the most pretty, I think. There are a bunch of sweet options here!

The large front and back panels are 19″ wide and 14″ high. The bottom panel is 19″ wide by 4″ tall. The side panels are 4″ wide by 14″ tall. Note that one of your sides is oriented the “wrong” way so you want to be sure that it works with your fabric. Something like stripes would be difficult with this configuration. Cut out your pieces.

I’ve read that you shouldn’t iron your oilcloth but if I have some creases, I’ve ironed the fabric side or the laminated side (WITH A CLOTH PROTECTING THE SURFACE) with great success. But do so at your own risk!

2. Keep the ends of your straps from unraveling by running a bit of clear glue (or no-fray) along each edge. Set aside to dry.

3. Fold over the top of your front panel 1″ and press (WITH CLOTH PROTECTING)

4. Pin one strap to bag through top layer only, 5″ from each side.

5. Apply masking tape along top (folded) edge of panel, front and back. (ignore stitches in photo.)

6. Stitch along entire length of top edge through strap, 1/8″ from edge. The masking tape is there to keep the oilcloth from sticking to your sewing machine.

7. Lift up the tape and remove the strap pins.

8. Replace tape and sew another straight stitch the entire length, 1/4″ from bottom of seam.

9. Remove tape. Be careful not to rip out stitches at the ends. They should be fine in the middle, just tear it away.

9. Repeat steps 3-9 on back panel.

10. with right-sides facing, sew two side panels to bottom panel end to end.

11. Fold both seams over so right side is facing out and press (WITH CLOTH PROTECTING)

12. Add masking tape to front and back on both sides and stitch with a straight stitch 1/8″ from fold.

13. Remove tape again being careful of end threads.

14. For the two unfinished ends of the sides, repeat step 3-9 (minus the strap steps.)

15. Lay down your front panel (wrong side up) and align the side of the side panel (right side up) with the side of the front panel.

16. Leaving 1″ at the end, wrap bias tape around edge of side and pin through all layers.

17. At the top, fold the end of the bias tape into the bag like so and pin.

18. When you get to the corner, align the bottom of the front panel with the long end of the bottom panel and continue to pin. You can create a mitered corner in the front of the bias tape now or do it later while you are sewing. Continue the same process up the third side and tuck the end of the bias tape into the bag as you did in step 17. This is what your bag will look like from the back.

19. This is what it will look like from the front.

20. Begin at the top on one side (with a few forward and back stitches to secure end) and sew straight down side through all layers. Make sure you are catching the oilcloth inside the bias tape. I stitched down center of bias tape to avoid doing the masking tape on the sides. It stuck a bit but not bad. You could add the tape under the bias tape and tear it out when finished. In which case, I would have sewn along the inside edge of bias tape rather than down the center. Make sense?

21.When you get to the end of the first side, add a few back stitches to secure and tuck the corner of the bias tape to create a mitered corner on the front.

22. Then sew along the next side securing the mitered corner with a few back stitches at the start and finish.

23. Note. When you turn the corner make sure you move the extra fabric (the bottom and side panel) out of the way as shown below.

24. At the other tucked end of the bias tape (the top of the bag) sew up very close to the top and add a few back stitches to secure.

25. Repeat step 15-24 to attach back side to bag. Trim all threads, and you are done. If you look inside and there is a hole where you missed sewing the oilcloth into the bias tape, just smooth everything out and sew another row along the inside edge of the bias tape. No one will ever notice.

And you are done! I love the idea of using these as a gift bag for the holidays although it makes a fantastic gift on its own! I’ve already used mine and I love it!




Awesome! I have ripped most of my canvas bags that I take to the grocery store. Now I'm off to make some super cute bags that will make the other moms jealous…cause that's why I go to the grocery store…


I would LOVE to make this but don't have any oilcloth, nor have I seen any in the fabric shops near me. Also, I can't do bias tape. I tried this weekend and failed miserably, so that's the tutorial I'd like to see – bias tape!


Sometimes, I hate you… for sharing so many lovely projects made with stuff that is not available down here in France! (and imagine the cost of shipping if I order oilcloth or even thinner designer fabric from an American store through the internet…)
Well, at least, you make me dream and that's definitely something I'm thankful for!
Have a great day!


Thank you so much! I think I'm brave enough to give this a try… but as Wendy said I would love a bias tape tutorial!

Amanda @ PandiolaLane

You're making my quest to make all my Christmas gifts this year seem even easier with all these awesome tutorials! Of course part of this quest is to use as much fabric that I already have rather than buying. (Trying very hard to be very prudent!) BUT, I don't have any oil cloth 😉 I'm also intimidated by bias tape. You make it look so easy and in my mind I think I can do it but I'd like some assurance from you that I will be successful. Another awesome tutorial to ensure that I can become a pro at bias tape and don't mess up my projects WOULD BE AWESOME!!! YAY! I hope you do it! 🙂

Patrick, Ashley, and Audrey

BTW: I made the pocket bib last week and it turned out beautiful! That's a rockin' tut!!!After I was done, my dear husband said…"very nice hon, but are you going to laminate it, you know, so it's wipeable?" It took me a bit to realize that he was talking about oilcloth! That he thought that I laminated fabric somehow, in our home, rather than having bought "laminated" fabric!!! What!?
After straightening him out, I started thinking that the pocket bib would be awesome made out of this!!! I hope I win so I can give that a try!!!


I knew my fabric budget needed to be adjusted when designers started making oilcloth… no more red and white gingham with ants printed all over it…

Taylor {Sew Much Love}

Oh I LOVE this! Oilcloth is so great for a tote too because I always end up putting my bag in a puddle of sticky crap at restaurants and stores.

The nicey jane oil cloth is especially tempting so it's so beautiful!


My favorite tutorials that you do are always the little girl clothes. I always make them for my daughter. So various dresses in different styles would be great! I'd especially love to see some knits or flannel ideas for the winter!


Um… Wouldn't you please replace the word "France" in Lines comment with "Germany" for me…?
Line! You JUST found the words that I was searching for, since I know Prudent Baby…
Thank you! And sorry, but I just HAD to "steal" them…
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Prudent Baby.
And love it!
And love it.


lol… i truly laughed when i read your comment about not asking for a carseat cover, but something easy. im a beginner for sure, and i have made baby blankets and nursing covers, which i offered to make one or both for my friend. she, in return, asked if i could make her a shopping cart seat cover instead. um, yeah, maybe in a few years i can figure that crap out!


I'd LOVE to see a tute for a car seat cover, in oilcloth. ha! I kid, I kid.

Really, everything you do is great, my holiday gift-making list is growing thanks to PrudentBaby. Maybe a baby boy vest? (that's totally random, I know)

{ to be charmed }

Amazing project… you guys have such great tutorials that you make everything so easy to create, thank you!

I do have a question…. what needle in your sewing machine did you use for working with the oil cloth?

Happy Monday ~ Elizabeth


Another awesome(and very, very easy)project to use oilcloth for is little credit card holders. So you cut out a piece the width of a card and the length of almost 4 cards. fold up both ends 3/4 the length of a card to make pockets on both sides – sew all along each edge. then fold that in half with the pockets inside. You've got a super cute card holder. Hope that explanation made sense!! haha. I use one of these to hold all my credit cards in my purse. I've also made one out of a laminated map of north america. That one was super cute. 🙂


Elizabeth-I just used my regular needle and it worked fine. If you have a heavy duty needle, this is probably a good time to use it depending on the thickness of your fabric/lining.


I love this tote! I just bought some fabric to make some Halloween/Thanksgiving placemats, so with that on my mind it just dawned on me how awesome it would be to make placemats out of oilcloth! You are all so brilliant you've probably already done that, but I'm new here so I haven't seen it yet :). Thanks for the inspiration!


I have never really liked oilcloth, probably because my only experience with it is that hideous checkered picnic table stuff. Then I was thinking, Huh, this stuff is actually pretty and I could actually use this to make a cute rain hat for my daughter and a matching raincoat for her doll. But now I am pretty sure she won't be so lucky. Mama needs a tote, bad. Off to order some oilcloth!

Little Missy

My husband and I are just starting to try for our first child, so I've been stalking your website for weeks to get good ideas for DIY nursery stuff. One thing I'd love to see is a tutorial for a crib bumper and a crib skirt. I'm sure they're not hard, but considering that the only crib bedding sets I actually like would end up running me $300 or so, I'd kind of like to be able to make my own! A nursing cover tutorial would be nifty, too.

And, as a side note, thank you so much for not being willing to do a carseat cover tutorial. I'm a Child Passenger Safety Tech and I hate all these crafty do-dads cropping up for carseats. Anything that you put on a carseat (or in the environment, too – window clings and shades, cutesy mirrors, etc) that didn't originally come with your carseat can actually release the carseat manufacturer of liability. So if you're ever involved in a crash and the seat didn't do it's job, you can't go back to the company seeking damages. There are plenty of ways that you can incorporate craftiness into your child's life – their carseat isn't one of them. Thanks again!


I love oilcloth! The name doesn't sound good though…OILcloth…who thought that up? How about we call it "Super Shiny Nice Cloth" instead? (by the way, the bag's adorable!) Thanks for the chance!


I just bought some laminated cotton to make a bag for my lunch containers & was just going to wing it. So happy I don't have to now! Oh, & my local fabric store carries the cotton/linen version of the fabric you used, but where could I find the oilcloth? I love it!

My Marvelous Life

Dear Oil Cloth, Oh how I love thee let me count the ways..purses, wallets, bags, changing pads galore. But sweet oil cloth why do you try so hard to make me poor?

P.S. Super cute bag!

Vitty's mom

this is perfect… although i will be using canvas for my project…. i am planning on making a tote for all of the wooden blocks i bought for my 1st great nephew… man that makes me sound old… i am so glad a fellow crafty mama sent me a link to y'all!!!


Ohhhhhh, oilcloth. Some people have dreams about that perfect cheesecake or gourmet chocolates. I used to. These days, it's the oilcloth. It's nearly impossible to find here in Canada, aside from getting it shipped from U.S. suppliers. Apparently oilcloth is truly worth its weight in gold, as the shipping is about equal to that of gold bouillon. We are not made of money, people! (If we were, I'd also be eating more chocolate, incidentally.)

So I dream. Of oilcloth. And make project lists for the day when I might get my hands on some.

Brandy Layton

This is such a wonderful tutorial. I have wondered about Oil Cloth, now if I am as talented as you guys are, this will be a great way to bag the women in my family's gifts this year! Awesome and many thanks!


So my sister just turned me on to your blog, and I feel like I've missed out on SOOOO much for so long! I have a 4 month old baby and find your projects doable and practical, while being super freakin cute, of course. I love this project, and am heading to town to see if I can find oil cloth anywhere right now! The one thing I would like to see more of on the blog is baby boy stuff. Thanks for having such a great giveaway!


Ok, so I think you need to sit down and have a long talk with the people at fabric stores and tell them they need to carry cute oilcloth like this so that I have options for making cute bags like this….or sit me down and have a long talk with me about my fear of ordering fabric online! Either way this is an adorable bag and I am going to have to find some cute oilcloth and get going on making one of these!


This oilcloth is beautiful! I have not used oil cloth before (I cannot find any cute prints locally). I had a oilcloth lunch bag in mind and recently bought a walking foot because I have heard it makes sewing layers of oilcloth a little easier (among other things). I would love to try your tutorial! Thank-you for the generous giveaway!

Babes in Thriftland

If I had any idea where to find oil cloth, I would make this for all of my family and friends! My mom has just gotten in to the whole "going green" movement and she would love this to shop with! Perfect Christmas present!


Ok ladies, In the past I've threatened to force you all to join my "fear of bias tape" support group but now I think we might need a "fear of ordering fabric online" support group even more! Serious, get to fabricworm.com and order 1 yard. As a test. You will love it!


I just used oilcloth for the first time and L-O-V-E it! i made play-doh playmats for {very inexpensive} birthday gift baskets: cute oilcloth playmat + several mini playdohs + cookie cutters = adorable gift on the cheap!


I just saved this post to my "favorites" folder…that folder is busting at the seams w/ projects I would like to do…But I have a 3 year old & a newborn. Rest assured, WHEN you choose me to win the oil cloth, this will be my first project. 🙂


I have owned some oil cloth for a while but have been too intimidated to try sewing with it…until this tutorial! Thank you so much! I would love a tutorial for a little kiss-lock change purse where the fitting the fabric into the frame is heavily photographed at each step (I don't want much, ha?). 😀


Love the tote. I have a simple (I think) DIY request that kind of corresponds: reusable sandwich/snack bags. have you seen them yet? they're cropping up for kids' lunches… prolly important to use dye-free fabric so we don't inadvertently taint the food (any idea where to find dye-free nylon?). velcro closure? Whadya think? Thanks!


thanks for this! I've just "accidentally" ordered some Cath Kidston oilcloth and this is exactly what I wanted to make!


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