Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oil Cloth Snack Bags - Fail!

Awhile ago I saw some girl on Etsy was selling oil cloth, reusable snack bags. Now, it's not that I don't want to support another artist, it's just that I'm loathe to buy it and pay shipping if I could make my own. So, I decided that I'm going to make my own. I figured one 6" square folded in half for a snack bag, two 6" squares sewn together for a sandwich bag. Velcro closures on all of them.

So I go to Joann's for the oil cloth. I get there and they don't seem to have it. I asked the girl at the fabric table and she tells me it's hard to find and that I should try I told her I was gonna try Fabrics by Allen out in the Kmart Plaza to see if they have any.

I browsed around some more and found a remnant of red checked flannel back vinyl and I'm thinking, that this could make a super cute lunchbag, and then at least the trip to Joann's isn't wasted. When I checked out, I mentioned my project to the girl up front, who proceeded to inform me that they don't make oilcloth anymore - this is completely untrue, we carry bags made of it where I work.

So then I drive out to Fabrics by Allen. They don't carry oil cloth either, but they're intrigued by my idea. I ended up buying some nylon mesh to make a bath puff, and some lightweight clear plastic that we're thinking may work for my bags. I promise them I'll let them know how my bags turn out and head off to finish my errands.

Then I come home and go online. does, in fact, carry oilcloth!! Yay! But, I'm not totally in love with any of the patterns, so I start Googling oil cloth. And I find out that the jury's still out on whether modern oil cloth is actually foodsafe, because it's cloth impregnated with vinyl.

So I look into traditional oil cloth, which is canvas or cotton duck, impregnated with Linseed oil. Which also may or may not be foodsafe. But you can make your own. With linseed oil from the healthfood store which is produced to by eaten as a supplement of some kind or another. Which means it's food safe. But probably a huge pain in the ass to make.

So now I don't know what I'm going to do, but I know that as much as I hate throwing them all away, I am not going to start washing zippy bags. To me, that just screams crazy person. I mean no offense to you if you wash yours, I just can't quite bring myself to do it.


  1. Be careful with the linseed oil. Cloths soaked in it and bunched up can spontaneously combust. Check out " how to dispose of oil-soaked rags" on

    Also make sure your cotton duck is not waterproofed.

    Hope this helps to find a better solution!

  2. did you ever figure out a solution? i am stuck in the same spot myself...

  3. Well, I wash my ziplock bags, and it is a pain, but no harder than washing other "dishes". So I just make a lunch bag out of cotton fabric over an insulator (like ironing board liner, or quilt batting), and then the bag is washable, too. (In the washing machine! You could probably wash baggies in the dishwasher if you weighted or fastened them carefully enough. The real hassle, which you get handwashing, too, is getting them dry) This was probably not helpful. I'm looking for oilcloth for baby bibs. Any suggestions for substitutes?

  4. Just happened on your blog when I was looking up "oilcloth being food safe" Thanks for the info. I make cloth diapers out of PUL, I am wondering if PUL, lined with cotton or something else would work? PUL itself is not food safe as it is coated with polyurethane but lined with another it would keep out the air but be safe right? I bought these today, the cheapest I have found for more than one...
    $7.50 at Walmart.
    They say water resistant but feel only like decor fabric... not sure.

  5. I know it's been a while since this was active, but just wanted to add my two cents. From what I've read around the web, the safest bet for the inside of a snack bag in rip-stop nylon.

  6. I bought some canvas mats impregnated with beeswax that work well for covering bowls (in the place of saran wrap). I wonder if this would work as the inside of a reusable baggie?