Monday, 18 July 2011

Sewing with Oilcloth

It's a great time to be stitching as there is a wealth of beautiful fabrics out there, and choosing materials is one of my favourite occupations. I can spend literally hours in fabric shops- and it's not just hours I spend a lot of. This year is particularly great for oilcloth- I'm not sure whether there is more oilcloth fabric available or now that I'm happy to sew with it and am looking for it I'm more aware of it- either way there is a fantastic choice and a good selection of coordinating fabrics.

Although called oilcloth what we are actually buying is not true oilcloth but a form of PVC coated cotton, but lets not be pedantic and oilcloth sounds so much better than PVC. It is a really useful fabric and I love it for bag making. It has taken a while for me to become confident sewing with it and producing items of a quality I'm happy to sell. I'm frequently asked for advice about sewing with it, so here are a few tips that I've found really helpful;
  •  a teflon foot on the sewing machine helps to stop the top surface of the oilcloth sticking to the foot
  •  a sharp needle- there is nothing like oilcloth for blunting needles and you will probably find that you need to change the needle frequently. Also I tend to use a large needle (16).
  • using  a larger stitch helps when top stitching (also take your time)
  • it may seem obvious but use the iron on the reverse side only- and use it on a warm setting.
  • if creased a warm hair dryer or lying the cloth flat in the sun are simple ways of reducing and removing creases. I would also suggest storing in on a roll rather than folded to prevent it creasing.
It is quite versatile - the fact it doesn't fray makes it great to use for applique work (you can use a temporary spray adhesive to hold the applique in place prior to sewing).

The teacups on the shopper are taken from another fabric and appliqued onto the main fabric. I've even had a go with my embroidery machine on oilcloth and the result was quite successful- even though I say so myself.

Oilcloth is really not that difficult to handle and the tips above are quite useful when sewing with it, so I would recommend having a go and having some fun. I use it for bag making, but have also made aprons with it, cushions for use in the garden and changing mats. I'm sure I'll be using it for other projects in the future.