Want to try your hand at making an oilcloth tote? This step-by-step project is really simple. You could make it even simpler by using home décor-weight fabric instead of oilcloth.
Tips for sewing with oilcloth
- Oilcloth, or laminated cotton, is an easy fabric to sew as it doesn’t fray, but you may need to invest in a non-stick or roller foot for your sewing machine to help stop friction.
- Don’t use pins: firstly, they’re difficult to push through oilcloth, and secondly, they will leave holes — clips are much easier to use when working with oilcloth.
What you need to make an oilcloth tote
- Two pieces of oilcloth measuring 40 x 30.5cm
- Two end pieces of oilcloth measuring 30.5 x 13cm
- Two pieces of lining fabric measuring 40 x 30.5cm
- Two end pieces of lining fabric measuring 30.5 x 13cm
- For the base, one rectangle of oilcloth measuring 40 x 13cm
- One piece of lining fabric measuring 40 x 13cm
- For the handles, two pieces of oilcloth measuring 10 x 40cm
- Optional: two strong snap fasteners
How to make an oilcloth tote
- Fold the handles in half lengthways, wrong sides facing, then fold each raw edge into the centre, folding again; clip. Top-stitch along the open side.
- On the top long edge of both your large pieces of oilcloth, measure 13cm in from each side and 4cm down. Mark, then sew the handles in position: sew a small square of stitches at the bottom of each end — this will make the handles stronger.
- Right sides together, sew the two end panels to one large panel.
- Sew the end panels to the remaining large panel, right sides facing in, to create a ‘tube’ with handles.
- Clip the base in position, right sides facing in, making sure the corners meet.
- Sew all the way around the base.
- Turn the bag right side out. Pinch the seams, one at a time, and top-stitch. This gives a professional look to your bag and strengthens the seams — if this is your first bag, you can leave out this step if you are not too confident.
- Make up the bag lining in the same way, following steps 3 to 6. You may find the lining fits better if you use a 1.5cm seam allowance.
- Fold over the top of the lining to the wrong side by 1cm and press.
- Drop the lining inside the bag. If the lining seems a little too large, sew over each seam 3mm in from the first stitch line.
- Fold over the top of the oilcloth bag to the wrong side by 1cm and clip to the lining. Tuck the turning between the layers.
- Top-stitch around the top; you may need to use the free arm on your sewing machine.
Stop the stitch line 5mm from the bottom edge, and you will find it easier to sew in the base.
Extract taken from Sew Brilliant Bags by Debbie Shore, published by Metz Press.