Essential Tips for Working with Oilcloth

Posted by on Aug 28, 2018


Essential Tips for Working with Oilcloth
What is oilcloth?
Oilcloth consists of vinyl on a base of cotton mesh. The back of the material is canvas-like and somewhat rough. It has the designs printed on top of the vinyl. Oilcloth used to be made by having canvas treated with multiple coats of linseed oil.
What can I make with oilcloth?
There are a few ideas for which you can use oilcloth. Due to its durability and ability to ward off stains, oil tablecloths are quite popular. They can also be used to make aprons, baby bibs, lunch sacks, book covers, drawer or shelf liner, purses, diaper bags, tote bags, mess mats, and shopping cart seat covers. Oilcloth has more weight to it than plastic tablecloth fabric. As a result, it is easier to cut and spreads flatter. When used as a tablecloth, it doesn’t slip around due to the slightly webbed pattern at the back.
How to care for oilcloth
Machine washing is not recommended for oilcloths. Since it’s waterproof and stain resistant, it can simply be cleaned by using a warm, soapy sponge. It is also susceptible to fading under direct sunlight and should be dried off with a soft cloth instead. It should be stored rolled or folded.
Creases on oilcloth usually smooth out over time - especially when laying it flat in a warm environment for a few hours. However, you can also smoothen out creases by placing a pressing cloth on the oilcloth and using a steam iron.
Handling oilcloth on a sewing machine
To avoid perforating the oilcloth too much and making it susceptible to damage, you can use a long stitch length for seams. For curves, you can decrease the stitch length. Make use of 16-inch needles to sew - especially if you’re sewing oilcloth on oilcloth. For thread, you can use cotton or poly thread. There are several positive results to be had from machine-embroidering on oilcloth. You can try these methods to create a lovely finished work.
Presser foot glide
For an easier time sewing oilcloth, sew on the back of the oilcloth, rather than through the waterproof side. Sewing on the printed side will cause your presser foot to stick and consequently make a mess of your work. Using a Teflon presser foot or roller presser foot will make your life that bit easier. A tissue paper should be placed between the oilcloth and the presser foot. It’s also been suggested to use masking tape on the bottom of the presser foot. Putting masking tape on the oilcloth itself will cause it to stick and this will in turn be difficult to get off.
Oilcloth edges
You might decide not to finish or hem the edges of the material. The edges of oilcloth don’t fray or unravel. However, to hem oilcloth, you can make use of decorative edge scissors or pinking shears to create a rather decorative edge. You can also cut a nice straight edge on it. For a clean finish, it will serve you well to try sewing double-fold bias tape around the edges, turn a hem on a straight edge, and serge the edges.

Materials: oilcloth

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