How to sew with oilcloth

Written by valery elias | 13/05/2017

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Things you need

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

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