Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Oilcloth Peg Bag - Tutorial

This project was not one I have been dreaming of was done purely out of necessity! That said, it is nice that when I need something boring like a peg bag, I have the skills to make it - and make it look good - rather than have to go and buy it.

How great is the strawberry print? My old peg bag was looking very sad, hanging by a thread and ready to fall apart with the next gust of wind.

So I decided I would make one, and the design is very simple but I had to think a little bit about the materials. My peg bag lives permanently on the line outside so it is subject to all weather conditions. In Melbourne throughout the year it ranges from 0 - 45 degrees celcius, and we get a fair bit of rain. It appeared that the area of the calico peg bag that wore out was the part around the top that came in contact with the wire so I needed something sturdier for the bag top.

Oilcloth was my choice, but I knew that the water would just pool inside it when it rained, so I decided to add a strip of calico to the bottom of the bag for the water to soak into and drain out or evaporate.

If you plan to keep your peg bag indoors, you can omit adding the calico.

Here is how I made it-

You need:
two pieces of oilcloth, 22 x 30cm (8.5 x 12")
one piece of calico (or a cotton scrap), 14 x 24cm (5.5 x 9.5")
two wire coat hangers OR sturdy but pliable wire from a hardware store
wire cutters
sewing supplies and a denim needle (100/16)

Fold the calico strip in half length ways. With right sides together (the calico doesn't have a right side but the oilcloth will) sew to the short ends of the oilcloth. This forms the base of the peg bag. Oilcloth is quite a thick material and requires a sturdy needle, so I use a denim needle in my machine. It also requires firm guidance through the machine while stitching.


Fold the other short oilcloth edges over about 2.5cm (1") to form a casing for the wire.

Stitch in place. I stitched them twice to make them extra secure.

With right sides together, stitch the sides of the bag up, but stop at the casing stitching. You need to leave the casings open for the wire to run through.

Turn it out and put it aside. Don't worry if the oilcloth appears creased. Oilcloth relaxes when it warms up and the creases come out naturally.

Next, take your coat hanger and cut it. You need most of the length, so just snip the hanger part off.

Now for the slightly tricky part - thread the wire through one side of the casing, then gently bend and manipulate it to thread through the other side.

Threading the wire through the second side took me a good 10-15 minutes, just to bend it gently and gain the rounded shape that I wanted for the top of the bag.

Snip off any excess wire and tuck the wire ends into the casing so they can't pop out. It doesn't have to be perfect, mine looked a bit like a dog's breakfast.

To finish, I used the existing wire hanging hook on my old peg bag and attached it to my new one. To create a hook, you can use the second coat hanger and snip of the base. Create loops around the bottom of the arms of the hanger and attach them to the wire that is visible between the casing of the bag.

Done! While dealing with the drudgery of laundry, we might as well have good looking accessories!

Oilcloth is a great material to sew with and really practical, especially for items or garments that can be wiped clean - place mats, table cloths, baby bibs, baby change mats. I have also used oilcloth to make some toiletries bags - you can see the tutorial here. You can buy oilcloth in the home dec area of the fabric store, or there is a wide range available online.

If you make a peg bag, or I just inspire you to make something from oilcloth, I'd love to see it! Snap a photo and tweet me, post it on my Facebook page, or add it to my Flickr pool!


  1. hmmm.
    My machine looses tension on the bottom thread when I sew oil-cloth....
    Any tips?

    1. Definitely use a sturdier needle, and pop a bit of tissue or baking paper under it while you stitch to allow it to glide more easily under the presser foot. Tear the paper off once you are done.

    2. recently I saw that you can put a piece of regular Scotch tape on the bottom of your machine foot and that will help it slide over the oilcloth.

  2. I love oil cloth and really want to make some big outdoor cushions for Summer out of it.

    Your peg bag looks awesome!

  3. I started reading this and thought to myself "but the water is going to pool up with the oil cloth!"... and then I read on about the calico.... You, my lovely, are a GENIUS!!!! :D
    Great tutorial x

  4. I still find projects done out of necessity satisfying to finish, especially if they're quick to make like this one... well, maybe inserting the wire wasn't quick. Clever idea to add the calico.

  5. Great bag! Sometimes I do wish I could whip up something like this so i wouldn't have to buy it.

  6. I love this idea! I'm currently using one of those big rice bags for my pegs...not as pretty as yours.

  7. Love it! My clothespin bag (which is so not as cool as 'peg bag' so I may start calling it that instead!) needs replaced badly and I just haven't gotten around to it yet. Might pick up some oilcloth to use instead of cotton like I was planning! Thanks for the idea! :)

  8. Great idea, and it looks brilliant! What a stroke of genius to add the calico at the bottom :)

  9. You make it look so easy! Great job! Love the Cherry fabric too, so cheerful.

  10. This is wonderful. It is just what my grandmother used growing up in Arizona..but she did not need oilcloth...I do..I will try it...thx

  11. Opps! Strawberries, not Cherries!

  12. i love that!
    bumped into you today at the bloggers brunch but we weren't formerly introduced.
    my little guy was sitting next to you drawing.
    love your space here.

  13. Cutest peg bag I've seen! Embarrassed to say it (but I will), we use an empty ice cream container (oh the shame). Will be making one of these for sure, thanks Ros:)

  14. I think it would be excellent to plant in also, if my clothespins are willing to give it up:-)


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