DIY: Oil Cloth Bag

Posted On September 7, 2015

Made To Sew - Oil Canvas Bag 0

Join us for this fun tutorial and learn how to make your very own Oil Cloth Bag, choose from one of the three sizes we have designed for you or learn to make your own pattern. Check out the corresponding YouTube tutorial for more information: Click Here!

If you would like to learn more about how to create your own size bag, check out our sizing tutorial – Quilting Wash Bag Sizing.

Start by deciding on the side of the bag you wish to create, this is based upon the size of the zip. We have created 3 sizes for you; purse, clutch bag and pencil case.

Purse Size
Pattern Size: 7 1/4″ width, 4 1/4″ height (17.6cm width, 10.5cm height)
Zip Length: 5″ (13cm)
Zipper Tab: 1 1/2” x 1 1/2” (4cm x 4cm)
Finished Size (approximately):  6 1/4″ width, 3 1/4″ height (15cm width, 8cm height)

Clutch Size
Pattern Size: 10 1/4” width, 7 1/4” height (24.6cm width, 18cm height)
Zip Length: 8″ (20cm)
Zipper Tab: 1 1/2” x 1 1/2” (4cm x 4cm)
Finished Size (approximately): 9 1/4” width, 6 1/4” height (22cm width, 16cm height)

Pencil Case Size
Pattern Size: 12 1/4″ width, 6″ height (29.6cm width, 15cm height)
Zip Length: 10″ (25cm)
Zipper Tab: 1 1/2” x 1 1/2” (4cm x 4cm)
Finished Size (approximately):  11 1/4″ width, 5″ height (27cm width, 12cm height)

Please bear in mind that we are not using exact conversions for imperial to metric measurements. We are working with 1/2″ (1cm) seam allowances for ease. SEAM ALLOWANCES ARE INCLUDED.

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Next collect the materials you need to create the bag of your choice.

What materials do you need?
- Oil Canvas / Fabric (1/2 metre)
– Lining (1/2 metre) (optional) – we used a waterproof lining
– Zip (see above for sizing)
– Thread

What equipment do you need?
– Sewing Machine
– Chalk, Removable Pen, Pencil
– Scissors
– Ruler, Tape Measure
– Pins or Bulldog, Binder Clips
– Repositionable Adhesive (optional)
– Iron (not for use on oil canvas)

Made To Sew - Oil Canvas Bag 1

Decide on the size of the bag you wish to create; use the pattern measurements above or see our blog post – Quilted Wash Bag Sizing to create your own size. The size of the bag is based on the size of the zip, you may need to shorten your zip. However we would only recommend shortening a plastic zip, do NOT try this with a metal zip.

Once you have decided on the size of the bag you wish to make, draw out the size onto the WRONG side of your fabric. Work with chalk, a removable pen or pencil. If you are planning on adding a lining, complete the same for the lining. If your fabric has a pattern think about the placement of the print within your measurements, how do you want this to look on your finished bag?

You will also need to cut out 2 squares for the zipper tabs; these should measure 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ (4cm x 4cm).

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Attach Zipper Tabs
Start by attaching the zipper tabs to the end of the zip. Firstly you must measure from the end of the zip (zip stopper) 1/2″ (1cm) and trim off any excess zipper tape. This is to allow the zip tabs to wrap around the zipper tape, they are designed to measure 1/2″ (1cm) when finished.

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Complete the same for the top of the zip, measure 1/2″ (1cm) from the zipper pull and cut off any remaining zipper tape.

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Fold two opposite sides of the fabric tab to the wrong side by 1/4″ (5mm). Press with an iron if possible, however you must NOT use an iron on the oil canvas. Simply crease the oil canvas and press with your fingers.

Once the two opposite edges have been folded in by 1/4″ (5mm), press the tab in half to measure a width of 1/2″ (1cm) and a length of 1 1/2″ (4cm). Work with an iron if your fabric is suitable, do NOT use an iron on the oil canvas fabric!

Sandwich the zipper tape in between the fabric tab. This is easier to complete on the bottom of the zip. Hold the fabric in position with pins or a bulldog, binder clip. Do NOT use pins on oil canvas fabric, the pins will pierce holes in the fabric that cannot be removed.

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Complete the same at the top of the zip. Open the zip and position the two pieces of zipper tape at the top of the zip inside the fabric tab. This can be tricker to complete than the bottom of the zip.

Hold in position with pins or bulldog, binder clips. I would recommend using 2 pins or bulldog, binder clips for each side of the zipper tape.

Another option is to work with a repositionable adhesive. Spray adhesive onto the WRONG side of the fabric zip tab (with the two 1/4″ (5mm) edges folded in). Use a piece of dowel or an old pencil to hold the fabric tab whilst working with the adhesive, this will protect your fingers. Cover your table with scrap paper before use and read the instructions on your individual adhesive.

This should make it easier to position the zip in-between the layers of fabric, holding everything in place until you get to the sewing machine.

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How to shorten a zip?
The size of the bag is based on the size of the zip, therefore you may need to shorten a zip if you do not have the specific size to hand. I would only recommend shortening a plastic zip, do NOT try this with a metal zip.

Measure from the zipper pull at the start of the zip, the length of the zip you require. Add 1/2″ (1cm) to the zip measurement, this is required to allow enough length to wrap the zipper tab around.

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Draw a line onto the zip at this measurement.

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Cut the zip at the drawn line. Be sure that you have measured the required zip length PLUS 1/2″ (1cm) to allow room for the addition of the zipper tab.

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Attach the zipper tabs as completed previously. Wrap the fabric tabs around the end of the zip, this is why we added an extra 1/2″ (1cm) to the zip measurement!

You will have to sew over the plastic teeth on the sewing machine to attach the zipper tab, which is why we do NOT shorten a metal zip.

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Sew the zipper tabs onto both ends of the zip at the sewing machine. Stitch 1/8″ (3mm) away from the folded edge of the fabric tab (closest to the zip). Be sure to backstitch at the start and end of sewing if possible to secure the stitches. If your machine struggles to backstitch with the oil canvas fabric, sew straight and tie off the threads after sewing.

We would recommend using a zipper foot for ease.

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Introduce the Zipper – Lined Bag
The zipper must be positioned in the middle of the bag. Position the lining RIGHT side facing up, the longest measurement is the width measurement.

Measure in from either side of the longest measurement (width measurement) 5/8″ (1.3cm). Draw a mark with a removable pen.

Please understand that we do NOT use exact imperial to metric conversions as we are working with 1/2″ (1cm) seam allowance for ease (we know that 5/8″ is not 1.3cm!). If you wish to understand what the 5/8″ (1.3cm) zip placement means and where it comes from please read our Quilting Wash Bag Sizing post.

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Position the lining RIGHT side up, place the zipper (teeth facing UP) along the top edge in between the marked lines. The edge of the zipper tape should sit along the edge of the fabric. The zipper tabs may extend past the fabric edge, this does not matter.

Place the exterior fabric RIGHT side DOWN onto the zip, sandwiching the zipper in between the lining and exterior fabric. If you are working with a fabric that has a directional print, think about the placement of the exterior fabric. We will be sewing along the edge of the zip, the exterior fabric will be turned back so that it extends from the zip. See below for finished image.

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Hold the layers together with pins or bulldog, binder clips.

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Introduce the Zipper – Un-Lined Bag
As completed in the lined bag the zipper must be positioned in the centre of the bag. Measure in from the exterior fabric 5/8″ (1.3cm) from either side of the width measurement (longest measurement). Mark on the WRONG side of the fabric with a removable pen.

Please understand that we are NOT using exact imperial to metric conversions as we are working with 1/2″ (1cm) seam allowance for ease (we know that 5/8″ is not 1.3cm!). If you wish to understand what the 5/8″ (1.3cm) zip placement means and where it comes from read our Quilting Wash Bag Sizing post.

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Position the zip in between the markings. The edge of the zipper tape should sit flush, in line with the edge of the fabric. The zip MUST sit with the zipper pull and teeth facing up, with the WRONG side of the fabric facing UP.

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Position the zip and fabric together along the top edge, work with pins or bulldog, binder clips.

The fabric tabs attached to the zipper will extend past the edge of the fabric, this is absolutely fine.

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Again think about the placement of the exterior fabric, especially if you have a directional print. We will be sewing along the zipper tape to attach the exterior fabric to the zip. Mimic the sewn product and pull your exterior fabric back to view the fabric direction. How do you want it to look when it’s finished?

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Sewing the Zip
Stitch along the edge of the zipper teeth to attach the zip to the layers of fabric. The same process applies for both the lined and un-lined bags.

You MUST sew onto the exterior fabric, the zip should be facing UP, underneath the layers of fabric!

Stitch using the zipper foot on your sewing machine and stitch as close to the zipper teeth as possible, some sewing machines will allow you to move the needle closer to the zipper teeth. We are working with a Husqvarna Emerald 116 and can move the needle to the far left in line with the edge of the zipper foot, for a closer stitch. Sew using a straight stitch with a 2.5mm stitch length.

Remove pins and clips (bulldog, binder) as you are sewing. Backstitch at the start and end to secure the stitching.

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Once the zip has been sewn into the layers on one side, position the exterior fabric and lining (if you are working with one), RIGHT side facing out. We will topstitching close to the zip to hold the layers in position and prevent any shifting.

The exterior fabric and lining (if you are working with one) should be going in the same direction (to the same side of the zip). If you are working with a lining pin the layers together, and pull the layers away from the zip. You cannot see the lining when sewing and it is very easy for the lining to be caught under the zip, if you do not pull the layers taught away from the zip.

Use pins or bulldog, binder clips to hold the layers taught.

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Topstitch Zipper
At the sewing machine topstitch, edge stitch 1/8″ (3mm) away from the edge of the fabric, along the length of the zip. Sew through both the exterior and lining fabric (if you choose to work with one).

Use a standard straight stitch, 2.5mm length. The stitch length can be increase if you are working with a thick fabric to 3 – 3.5mm.

TIP: Work with the zipper foot for ease. We have moved the needle to allow for easy sewing, 1/8″ (3mm) away from the edge of the zipper foot. This allows you to run the edge of the zipper foot along the edge of the fabric and neatly sew 1/8″ (3mm) away with ease!

Backstitch at the start and end of sewing to secure the stitching.

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If you are working with a lining, pull on both the exterior and lining fabrics to make sure they are sitting taught away from the zip. Do not worry about this is you are working solely with an exterior fabric; you can see what you are sewing!

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Once you have topstitch the zip you will need to attach the fabric to the other side of the zip. Following the same instructions as completed previously.

Introduce the Zipper – Lined Bag
Lay the lining fabric RIGHT side facing up and measure in 5/8″ (1.3cm) either side, along the width measurement of the bag (longest measurement).

Position the zip (with the fabric attached to one side) between the marks. The edge of the zipper tape should sit along the edge of the fabric. The zipper tabs may extend past the edge of the fabric, do not worry about this.

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Position the exterior fabric RIGHT side down on top of the zip. Sandwich the zip between the lining and exterior fabric.

Think about the placement of the fabric if you are working with a directional print. The side edges of all of the fabric pieces should line up.

Hold in position with pins or bulldog, binder clips.

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Introduce the Zipper – Un-Lined Bag
As completed previously measure along the width (longest) measurement of the bag, 5/8″ (1.3cm) in from either side. Mark with a removable pen on the WRONG side of the fabric.

Place the zip (with the fabric attached), with the zipper pull and exterior fabric facing UP. Lay the exterior fabric RIGHT side facing down onto the zip, position the zip between the markings. The top edge of the zipper tape should sit flush with the top edge of the fabric. Do not worry if the zipper tabs extend past the edge of the fabric.

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Hold in position with pins or bulldog, binder clips.

At the sewing machine sew along edge of the zip to attach the zip to the layers of fabric. Complete the topstitching as completed previous. The same method applies for both the lined or un-lined bag.

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Sewing the Bag – Lined Bag
Now it is time to sew the bag together.

Separate the lining and exterior fabric, position the 2 pieces of exterior fabric, and 2 pieces of lining fabric RIGHT sides together. Be sure to OPEN the zip at this point, you will not be able to turn the bag around if you forget this step! Match the seams at both ends of the zip together, ideally the seams of the exterior fabric should sit on top of each other.

Start by sewing along the side seam of the bag, sew from the lining towards the exterior fabric. Push the seam allowances at the zip towards the exterior fabric.

Hold the layers or fabric together with pins or bulldog, binder clips.

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Sew from the lining towards the exterior fabric using a 1/2″ (1cm) seam allowance.

Backstitch at the start and end of sewing if possible. Stitch using a standard stitch, 2.5mm stitch length. We found it easier to sew past the zip using the zipper foot. Make sure that the needle is in the central position for your seam allowance markings on the metal plate to be accurate!

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Push the seam allowances at the zip towards the exterior fabric.

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Complete for BOTH sides of the bag, be sure to stitch from the lining to the exterior fabric on BOTH sides of the bag.

Place the bottom edges of the exterior fabric together, pin or use binder clips to hold the placement of the layers.

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Complete the same for the lining pieces, hold the layers together with pins or bulldog, binder clips. However you will need to leave a gap at the centre of the lining, so that the bag can be turned to the RIGHT side. Leave a small gap in the centre that measures approximately 4″ (10cm). Mark with a removable pen.

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Make sure your zip is OPEN! Otherwise you will not be able to turn the bag around to the RIGHT side after sewing.

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Sew along the bottom edge of the exterior fabric using the same straight stitch, 2.5mm stitch length and 1/2″ (1cm) seam allowance. Backstitch at the start and end of sewing.

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Be sure to backstitch over the stitching lines sewn in the opposite direction (sewing the side of the bag). This will make the corners are secure, as we will be cutting off the corners later on in the tutorial.

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Complete the same for the lining, sew using a standard seam allowance of 1/2″ (1cm). Stitch from the end up to the marking for the gap and backstitch.

Be sure to backstitch over the side seam stitching lines at the start and end of sewing to secure the corners, like the exterior fabric these will be trimmed shortly.

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Leave the hole in the centre and start stitching at the next marking, backstitch. Sew to the corner and again remember to back stitch over the side seam stitching.

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Sewing the Bag – Un-Lined Bag
Position the exterior fabric RIGHT sides together. Hold the layers together with pins or bulldog, binder clips.

Make sure that the two layers of fabric by the zip sit directly on-top of each other. Seam allowances MUST go towards the body of the bag.

OPEN the zip! So that the bag can be turned around after sewing.

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The bag can be sewn one of two ways. Is it possible to complete the stitching following the same method as completed in the lined bag. Both side seams should be sewn first from the zip down to the bottom edge, with the seam allowances at the zip going towards the body of the bag. This is very helpful to be certain that the top edges of the bag line up! Then the bottom of the bag can be sewn, being sure to backstitch over the side seam stitching to secure the corners. The corners will be trimmed down after sewing.

Alternatively sew from one side seam, turning the corner to sew the bottom edge and back up the other side seam.  If you would like to complete this method, I would recommend drawing corners onto the bag using a removable pen to be certain that you sew accurate, even corners!

Either method is fine to use, however some oil cloth fabrics can slip slightly during sewing and you want to be certain that the fabric edges next to the zip sit neatly on top of one another and do NOT move. The seam allowances MUST also point towards the bag.

To draw corners, measure in the 1/2″ (1cm) seam allowance from the side seam and the bottom seam. This will provide you with a neat corner for turning, as some sewing machines do not have horizontal guides on the machine bed.

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Start sewing at the top edge, be sure that the two layers of fabric sit one on top of the other. Seam allowances should face the body of the bag. Back stitch.

Sew along the bag using a 1/2″ (1cm) seam allowance and 2.5mm stitch length.

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Turn at the marked corner. Position the needle into the fabric, lift the presser foot and twist the fabric to turn the corner. Complete the sewing of the bag. Backstitch to finish.

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Trimming – Lined Bag
Trim off the rest of the zip tabs, flush with the zipper tape. There should be 4 tabs to trim off.

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Cut off the bottom corners of the bag, approximately 1/8″ (3mm) away from the stitching. This will create neat corners when turning the bag around.

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Once the main corner has been cut, two new points will appear. Trim off the points on either side of the corner.

Complete for the exterior fabric and lining fabric.

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Cut off the side seams of the bag, trim to approximately 1/4″ (5mm) away from the stitching line. These will be bulky at the zip, trimming will provide a neater finish on turning to the RIGHT side.

You may also wish to trim down the bottom of the bag and possibly lining on bulky fabrics. Trim 1/4″ (5mm) away from the stitching line.

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Trimming – Un-Lined Bag
Cut off the corners as completed for the lined bag. Cut 1/8″ (3mm) away from the stitching.

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Once you have cut the main corner, two new points will appear. Trim off these points to create professional corners when the bag is turned to the RIGHT side.

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Trim down the side seams and the bottom seam to 1/4″ (5mm) away from the stitching line.

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Trim of the zip tabs, flush with the zipper tape.

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Turn the bag around to the RIGHT side, the same rules apply for both the lined and un-lined bag.

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Poke out all of the corners using a point turner or dowel. Try not to use scissors as these can cut through the fabric and stitching.

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Poke out the corners at the top of the zip to release the zipper tabs.

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Finish Lined Bag
The lining of the lined bag will need to be finished along the length of the hole left for turning the bag to the RIGHT side.

Fold the seam allowances into the hole and pin or use bulldog, binder clips to hold the folded edges of fabric together.

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At the sewing machine stitch 1/8″ (3mm) away from the folded edge of the fabric. Start stitching just before the gap and sew just past the gap using a straight stitch, 2.5mm length. Backstitch at the start and end of sewing to secure the stitching.

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Congratulations you have made your very own oil canvas bag or purse. I really hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and look forward to seeing what you have created.

Feel free to share your makes with us on FacebookTwitterInstagram!

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