Oilcloth: A Homemaker’s Favorite Grows Up

April 15, 2010

Most of us know oilcloth from the shiny, flowery tablecloths that our grandmothers and mothers used when we were growing up. Luckily, you can easily find your own oil cloth tablecloth to brighten up your home or patio with gorgeous color and patterns. They are wonderful! You can spill anything on them, set hot dishes on them, protect the furniture from the kids and your messier menfolk, and best of all, know that they will last forever and a day.
Oilcloth is one of the most beautiful, versatile types of fabric on the market today, and while it is certainly a top choice for indoor/outdoor tablecloths, it is also used to make stylish purses, big shopping bags, fun aprons, and a variety of other colorful objects. Things made out of this fabric are waterproof, extremely durable, and absolutely adorable. The edges will never fray or unravel, even if there are no hems sewn into the fabric, which is a big time saver.  Whether you are buying something premade or making it yourself (go team!), it’s hard to go wrong with oilcloth.
Making your own oilcloth projects at home can be quite rewarding. If you can do the simplest sewing, you can make your own oilcloth tablecloths, grocery bags (sturdy!), lunch bags for the kids, colorful purses, place mats for humans or animals, and much more. But before you decide to break out the sewing machine, take some time to look at the amazing oil cloth products that so many vendors are selling nowadays. The selection is incredible, the quality is good, and best of all, the prices are usually quite reasonable.
Excited about buying your first oilcloth tablecloth or buying some by the yard for a sewing/decorating project? You will find that this fabric falls into several different categories, including:
  • Floral, fruit, and tropical prints
  • Gingham check and polka dots (these are the perfect compliment for the floral/tropical prints!)
  • Solid colors (great for borders and accents)
  • Toile (a French-style pattern of delicate line drawing, usually depicting lace patterns, old world village scenes, or plants and flowers)
  • Designer patterns (these often come in the form of laminated cotton, a softer type of oilcloth that drapes quite beautifully but is not fully waterproof)
  • Chalk cloth (coated with an extra thick, matte vinyl surface which allows you to write on it with chalk, then wipe it off)
  • Mexican Day of the Dead designs (think of the paper cut-out designs, printed onto vibrant color backgrounds)
  • Faux Bois (literally “fake wood” in French, this oilcloth is patterned to look like different wood surfaces)
Some of the best oilcloth projects are the ones that combine two or three different types of the fabric, mixing gingham check with florals, or polka dots with toile. Enjoy the color and patterns!
*People seem to have different ideas about how to properly write this fabric’s name. Should it be “oilcloth” or “oil cloth?” Both work, so I use them interchangeably. Hopefully this is not too annoying!
Red Toile Oilcloth image to the right is from Modern June (oilcoth by the yard, aprons, and more)

Previous post: