Sewing oilcloth: how-to, tips and tricks

Oilcloth is a durable, washable, cloth-like material made from woven cotton. It derives its name from the use of linseed and soya oils in its preparation (linoleum).

Oilcloth was originally made by treating canvas fabric with multiple coats of linseed oil. The cloth was first introduced in France by Emile Jungen in 1855 and later patented in England in 1860 by Samuel Blake.

Here are some tips and tricks to make sewing oilcloth a breeze.

Everything you need to know about sewing oilcloth

Sewing with oilcloth is very similar to sewing any other fabric, but the “stickiness” of the fabric can make it difficult to feed through your sewing machine.

Help the fabric feed smoothly

As oilcloth is a heavier-weight fabric, it is best to use a Size 16/100 sewing needle. You could also use a denim needle.

Use the right needle

Use a longer stitch length. This reduces the number of holes you make in the oilcloth (which can potentially make it less waterproof) and prevent the oilcloth from tearing.

Choose the right stitch length

Oilcloth doesn’t fray, so you don’t need to finish your edges or hem your fabric.

Finish the edges (or don’t)

Pins will leave holes in the oilcloth. Use sewing clips instead.

Don’t use pins!

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