How to sew with oilcloth

Written by valery elias
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Oilcloth is a unique fabric with a long history. It is often used to make placemats, baby bibs, tablecloths or lunch bags. The old process of creating oilcloth involved treating canvas cloth with a couple of coats of linseed oil. Today the manufacturing process is different. Oilcloth is now made of vinyl with a mesh cotton foundation. The design is printed onto the vinyl. Sewing with oilcloth is easy, and with a few tips you will be well on your way to creating unique oilcloth accessories for your home and personal use.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Oilcloth
  • Iron
  • Size 16 needle (denim needle)
  • Standard cotton
  • Tissue paper
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors

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  1. 1

    Before you begin sewing, eliminate the wrinkles from the oilcloth. Lay the oilcloth out flat and smooth out the wrinkles. Put the oilcloth in a sunny area to expedite this process. Alternatively, iron the oilcloth on the wrong side with an ion on a low setting.

  2. 2

    Use a size 16 needle on your sewing machine. This is a heavier duty needle and is sometimes referred to as a denim needle. Use a standard poly/cotton thread.

  3. 3

    Use a longer stitch when sewing to avoid creating holes in the oilcloth. Shorten the stitch as you go around corners or curves.

  4. 4

    Sew on the reverse side of the oilcloth to allow the presser foot on the sewing machine to move smoothly. When sewing on the right side, place tissue paper or a small piece of masking tape onto the oilcloth to help move the fabric along.

  5. 5

    Trim the edges of the oilcloth with decorative shears or scissors. The edges will not fray. Alternatively, sew a finished seam or edge as your normally would with any other fabric.

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