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2-in-1 Bag Transformable into a Tablecloth – Great for Picnic or Beach

The tablecloth bag is so chic, plus it cuts down on packing extra items. When you go on a picnic all you do is open the zips and the bag instantly converts to a circular tablecloth. How easy. Display your picnic goodies and you’re set for some fun times. The visuals and step-by-step instructions make this bag so simple – even the method for inserting the zips is a breeze. Choose contrasting colors in plains or prints for the bag and the tablecloth. I can see this in a bright red and white check, a floral print or bold geometric prints for the cloth with a plain outer bag – or maybe you want to go pattered for the bag and plain for the tablecloth. The combinations are endless.

diy picnic bag front view

Having something that has a double function is just perfect. This bag unzips to form a tablecloth for picnics or impromptu sundowner snacks. Put down the bag, unzip the sides and you are ready! Once you get into making these they may become hot seller because everyone needs an easy picnic tablecloth bag that folds away to nothing and can be washed, rather than a picnic basket that needs all those grooves dusted and wiped and takes up storage space. The sewing instructions and visuals show just how easy it is to insert the zips using the flat sew method.

diy tablecloth bag open having picnic

Below you will find my step by step written tutorial with VIDEO instructions for all the visual learners.

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How to make a Transformable Picnic Bag

Supplies and tools

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How to Sew a Picnic Tablecloth Bag

Watch the diy transformable picnic tablecloth bag video first and then follow the written step by step instructions below.
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Picnic Tablecloth bag VIDEO TUTORIAL


STEP 1: Cut the fabrics

diy tablecloth picnic bag supplies and fabrics

From the outer fabric cut:

(4) rectangles 14 x 10″ (35 x 25cm) – these will be the sides of the bag

(1) rectangle 10 x 10″ (25 x 25cm) for the bottom of the bag

From the lining fabric cut:

(1) square 40 x 40″ (1 m x 1m) for the circular tablecloth piece

(2) rectangles 38 x 4″ (96 x 10 cm) for the straps

(2) rectangles 6 x 6″ (15 x 15cm) for the pocket

The finished dimensions of the transformable bag are

W x H x D: 19″ x 13″ x 9″ (47 x 33 x 23.5cm)

diy tablecloth picnic bag size

Step 2: Prepare the pocket piece

Take the 2 small 6 inch (15 cm) squares – these form the lined pocket on the bag and should be in the same material as the circular tablecloth piece. Place right side to right side, line up the squares and pin together.

Step 3: Stitch the pocket piece

Stitch around the edge ¼ inch (0.6 cm) from the edge, leaving a gap on one side that is 2 inches (5 cm). Back tack at the start and finish.

stitch pocket

Step 4: Trim the corners

Cut off the corners, but not too close to the stitch line, to reduce bulk when you turn the square right way out.

cutting corners of the diy picnic bag pocket

Step 5: Turn around and topstitch

Turn the pocket square the right way out, poking out the corners with a knitting needle or chop stick so they lie flat. Turn in the raw edges of the gap, in line with the rest of the fabric and press so you have a neat square. Topstitch the top of the pocket opposite of the gap.

You will sew the edges of the gap closed when you place the pocket on the side of the bag.

topstitching pocket diy tablecloth picnic bag

Step 6: Pin pocket to the side

Take one piece of the outer rectangular fabric for the sides, lay it right side up on your worktop and place the pocket piece 4″( 10 cm) down from the top on the long side, with the unstitched side where the gap is, at the bottom. Make sure the pocket is equidistant from the sides. Adjust if necessary, so the pocket is centrally placed between the sides. It’s the easiest to fold the pocket piece in half and do the same with the outer fabric and make a crease, then line up the creases. Pin in place.

stitching the pocket for diy tablecloth picnic bag

Step 7: Topstitch the pocket to the side of the bag

Stitch the pocket to the rectangular piece, starting at the top left-hand pocket corner, back tacking at the start and finish. Stitch as close to the edge as possible around 0.2 inches (0.5 cm).

Step 8: Press the side pieces

Fold the raw edges of the long sides of the side pieces towards the wrong side about 3/8″ (1 cm) and press. Do this for all four side pieces and place aside.

all sides folded for the diy tablecloth picnic bag

Step 9: attach the side to the base

Now lay out the 10-inch (25 cm) square, which will be the base of the bag, right side up on your worktop. Over it place the base of the side with the pocket, right side to right side. Pin the base and one side of the square together and stitch, starting and finishing at the fold 3/8 inch (1cm) in from the edge.

These extra bits not stitched will be folded over for later when the zips go in.

homemade tablecloth picnic bag - stitching the sides

Step 10: Attach the second side

On the opposite side to where you added the pocket side to the base now add another rectangular side matching up the 10-inch (25 cm) sides, pinning and stitching in place, and leaving 3/8 inch (1cm) unstitched at each end. Remember to back tack at the start and finish of all seams.

Step 11: Open out

Open out the long rectangular piece and place right side up on your worktop after pressing the two seams open.

Step 12: Attach the other two sides

Take the next two rectangular pieces for the bag and place them on either side of the base sides that have nothing stitched to them, right side up, so you have a cross shape. Flip over the rectangles so the right sides face the right side of the stitched piece, line up the 10-inch (25 cm) edges at the base and pin in place.

stitched sides to base to make the diy picnic bag

Step 13: Sew the sides to the base

Stitch the pieces to the bag base starting and finishing at the fold which is 3/8  inch (1 cm) in from the edge.

close up of stitching

Step 14: Press the seams

When you have the cross shape of the bag stitched then open out the piece, place it wrong side up on your ironing board and press open the seams you stitched in step 13. Also press again each 3/8 inch (1cm) section back on itself on all four sides of the bag.


Step 15: Make the L shape

Fold over the cross shape so the material is in half along the length, then fold again so you end up with an L shape. Pin in place

L shape for the picnic bag

Step 16: Prepare the square tablecloth piece

Place your lining fabric square 40 x 40 inches (1m x 1m) – the same type as the pocket piece –  on the worktop and fold over in half, top to bottom, then in half again left to right.

Step 17: Pin L shape to the fabric square

Place the L shape over the folded edges of the fabric square and make sure the arms of the L line up with the two folded edges. Clip in place while you measure further.

Step 18: Measure and mark the circular tablecloth piece

Measure 18.5 inches (47 cm) from the corner point when the arms of the L meet  down the one side of the fabric. The mark should be just in line with the end of the arms of the L shape, then pivot the tape measure around with the end fixed at the corner point, marking off at 4-inch (approximately 10 cm) intervals around the edge in an arc and pinning the 4 layers together as you measure, until you meet up with the other arm of the L. Join the points in a nice smooth arc with your fabric pen as this curve will create the circular table cloth shape.

diy tablecloth picnic bag - cutting out tablecloth

Step 19: Cut the tablecloth piece

Trim the excess fabric outside the line of the curve, remove the pins on the edges and the clips holding the folded L shaped bag piece. Flip open the circular piece and place right side down on the worktop.

tablecloth bag circle cutout

Step 20: Layer

Take the outer bag piece you stitched and open it out then place with the right-side up on the circular piece, ensuring the ends of the arms of the cross shape are lined up neatly with the edges of the cloth.

Step 21: Pin the zippers

Pin the ends of the four arms of the cross in place. Now take the first zip and open it up, then slip the bottom end of the zip ¾ inch (2cm) under the corner where two arms extend and pin along the edge you already turned and pressed under 3/8 inch (1 cm), making sure the teeth of the zip extend just beyond the edge of the material. Repeat with the other side of the zip.

one of the zippers of the diy picnic bag is pinned

Repeat the process with the other three zips so you have 4 zips pinned in place along the arms of the cross.

cross of outer fabric on top of tablecloth for the diy picnic bag

Step 22: Sew the zippers

Stitch the zippers in place, starting at the open ends, working down the length of the zip, and back tacking at start and finish.

stitching lines for the zippers of the diy picnic bag

Then work down the next side of the same zip. Do not try and turn at the base of the zip.

sewing the zippers to the transformable bag

Step 23. Attach the bias binding

Once all the zippers are sewn in place you stitch the bias binding along the edge.

Fold the bias tape in half and slip it over the edge. You may want to pin it in place ahead of where you stitch, but don’t try pin the whole cloth as the bias will ease over the curved area – so rather jut insert a pin or two ahead of where you are going to sew. To finish off the bias cut 1 inch (2.5 cm) beyond the raw edge where the bias started. Fold over 3/8 inch (1 cm) and carefully line up the folded edge with the raw edge where the bias tape started. This will cover the raw bias start point. Back tack to finish.

attaching bias all around the picnic bag

Step 24: Prepare the handles

It is now time to create the handles. You need two pieces of the contrasting fabric that the tablecloth part was made from, which will be 38  x 4 inches  (96 x 10 cm). The first step in this process is to fold over the short ends of both pieces of fabric and press in a 3/8 inch (1cm) fold.

Step 25: Fold and press the handles

Fold the handles along the whole length, lining up the edges and press. Open out the central fold and then fold the sides in towards the central point pressing as you go. You will end up with a handle that is 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide.

handles all pinned

Step 26: Topstitch the handles

Stitch all along the long and short edges of the handles 0.1 inches (0.3cm) from the edge.

Step 27: Attach one of the handles to the bag

Place the first handle end next to the pocket and in line with the middle of the pocket and snug against the sides of  the pocket, pinning to the top edge of the bag, then place the other end of the handle on the other side of the pocket and pin. Make sure the handle is not twisted.

pinned handles on diy tablecloth picnic bag

Step 28: Attach the second handle to the bag

To place the other handle on the side that doesn’t have the pocket measure how far your handles were from each side of the edge where the zip is on the pocket side you have just pinned. The distance should be 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) in from each side. Place the ends of the handles 6.5 inches (16 cm) down from the top edge. Pin in place.

Step 29: Final stitching

Stitch both the handles in place 0.1 inches (0.3cm) from the edges, sewing in a rectangle to make sure the ends and sides of the handles are secure.

stitching handles on the diy tablecloth picnic bag

All that remains is to zip up the sides and turn your tablecloth into a bag.

opening diy tablecloth picnic bag

Pack it with your favorite picnic items and head off for a carefree adventure outdoors. This tablecloth bag makes a perfect summer gift. Packed with some delicious baguettes, cheese, charcuterie and a bottle of wine you’re ready for the sweet life. If you would like more easy projects delivered to your inbox then please subscribe, so you’ll never miss out on our fun and easy step-by-step tutorials, with visuals, that make sewing projects a breeze.

diy picnic bag side view on the grass

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 14 comments
Carol L - June 11, 2022

I REALLY love this idea! I didn’t see the finished size of the actual picnic bag laid out for the picnic, but it doesn’t look very large…Can you make it larger?
Thank you so much for this tutorial!
Just a question since I can’t seem to contact you: Would it be possible to put the sewing tip contents when you send out a link for them? example: sewing tip 34:cut out lace applique. My computer has issues loading videos and often will take over 5 minutes+ to load them. Most of the tips I can use, but some I will never use (spaghetti straps),and it would be nice not to have to wait just to find out I don’t need it!
Thank you again for the wonderful blog and inventive ideas for sewing!!! I appreciate so much your hard work sharing them with your readers!

    Helen - June 13, 2022

    Hi Carol,
    It’s about 38″ (96cm) in diameter which I think is plenty for 4-5 people. You can make it larger by adding length to the sides but be careful not to add too much as the bag will turn out ginormous.
    as for your question – I got your email, I’ll reply you as soon as I can. I’m snowed under a ton of emails, so sorry it’s taking a while

Jayne @ Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs - June 12, 2022

What a fab idea! We go on a lot of picnics so this would come in very handy! x #MMBC

Alexandra - June 16, 2022

What a fun bag!!

    Helen - June 16, 2022

    thanks, Alexandra

Teresa - June 16, 2022

Just finished sewing this bag in a super cool pink vintage canvas.

Thought it was a super idea, especially for our trip to London, next month.


    Helen - June 16, 2022

    Awesome! I’d love to see it – if you can tag me it’s @hellosewing on social media

Donna B Reidland - August 11, 2022

What an ingenious idea and it turned out so pretty!

Paula Short - August 12, 2022

What a wonderful idea. Thank you for sharing this tutorial.
Visiting today from You’re The STAR #75

Joanne - August 12, 2022

That is such a clever idea!

Donna via Funky Junk Interiors - August 12, 2022

This tote and table cloth or picnic blanket combo is IT! What a neat idea and saves on packing so much stuff too!

Michele Morin - August 15, 2022


Rhondda Mol - August 16, 2022

Hi Helen, I love this convertible picnic bag! It is so handy and will work well for so many different spring/summer get togethers. Thank you for linking up at our weekly Link Party! You are being featured at our Wednesday Party #464 this week. Here’s the direct link to the post in case you’d like to share your feature:
Hope to see you again next week! Rhondda

Kampus Terbaik - September 5, 2022

Wow, that’s great, you’re very creative. Next, what kind of creativity will you make?


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