How to Turn Fabric Into Oilcloth

Written by jenny harrington Google
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How to Turn Fabric Into Oilcloth
Linen is suitable for lightweight oilcloth. (linen image by Silver Bromide from

Oilcloth provides a waterproof fabric solution suitable for a variety of uses around the home. Use oilcloth as a table cover, to wrap foods, or in clothing and accessories. Linen, canvas, and other sturdy natural fabrics are used to create oilcloth. The fabric is coated with an oil solution, which impregnates the fabric with oil and increases its water resistance and durability.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Scissors
  • Natural fabric
  • Tarp
  • White spirit
  • Linseed oil
  • Paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Cut your fabric to the desired size. Oilcloth can be cut and sewn after it is treated, so work with a larger piece to begin, and cut it down to smaller pieces after the oilcloth is completed. Lay the fabric on a plastic tarp once it is cut.

  2. 2

    Combine white spirit and boiled linseed oil at a 2:1 ratio. Add 28.4gr. of Japan dryer per each pint of the linseed solution, and combine thoroughly.

  3. 3

    Dip a paintbrush into the linseed oil mixture and paint one side of the fabric with the mixture, coating it evenly. Allow the oil to dry completely, usually for one to two days.

  4. 4

    Paint a second coat of the linseed mixture onto the fabric and allow it dry. Apply a third and final coating the linseed mixture once the second coat has dried. When completely dried, the oilcloth is read for use.

Tips and warnings

  • Japan dryer speeds up the drying process of oils. It is readily available from paint stores and art supply stores.
  • If you wish to paint your oilcloth, coat the fabric in wallpaper sizing before oiling, allow it to dry, then paint the cloth with a latex paint. The sizing allows the paint to adhere to the fabric.
  • To clean, wipe down oilcloth with a damp rag.
  • Linseed oil and white spirit produce strong fumes. Work outside or in a well-ventilated area.

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