Thursday, 24 February 2011

My Love Affair With Oilcloth (Part 2) - Overcoming The Obstacles

So back to the drawing board, or rather the internet, that limitless fount of knowledge. Jeeze! Maybe should have done this first before ploughing ahead with the bag. There were lots of tips on working with oilcloth out there, even found a kindred spirit - someone with an oilcloth obsession. Think she got it a bit worse than me though :D
These were some of the tips I found:
1. Whenever possible, work on the wrong side of the oilcloth
2. Use trimmings or bias binding so you are not stitching straight onto the fabric
3. Use teflon sewing foot
4. Use a walking foot like the one used for quilting
5. Cover the bottom of sewing foot with masking tap
6. Sew through tissue paper which can then be removed afterwards
7.Put talcum powder on the fabric
OK, OK! Number 7 was the product of yours truly’s brainwave, triggered by a recent incident involving the Dino-boy, a bottle of talcum powder and sock-skating on mummy’s newly cleaned laminate floor. Besides making the attic aka my sewing room smelled a whole lot nicer, it also made me sneeze and my eyes to water. A bit counter-productive since the aim was to produce even, straight stitches! You definitely need to see what you are doing! So you can take no 7 off the list, unless somebody less sensitive to talcum powder care to road-test it and report back.
No 1 and 2 are pretty self-explanatory, but not always possible especially if you are like me, you just have to top-stitch everything in sight. I discounted no 6 straight away. couldn’t imagine myself picking off all the bits of tissue afterwards. That would just drive me insane.
Tried no 5. Maybe I’m not doing it right but all I achieved was the masking tape sticking to the oilcloth AND everything else! Maybe should have spent a bit more time making sure the edges were properly stuck down.
That left me with no 3 and 4, both involved trekking down to the local sewing machine shop. The lady was very helpful. It boiled down to two considerations: teflon foot is less expensive than walking foot. However, the walking foot has the upper hand when sewing through layers. In the end, I decided to splash out and invest on a walking foot. I had visions of making beautiful handmade quilts as I walked home (not that I’ve ever made one, but it’s never too late to learn!).
It turned out to be a great investment. The fabric moved forward like a dream. I started working on thicker oilcloth and never looked back. I am back in love...


  1. This is a great article. I am tempted to try sewing with oilcloth as seen a lovely matruska doll design.

    Glad found your blog :o)
    {Dab and a dash.}

  2. I love the oilcloth apple bag, really lovely design, where did you buy the oilcloth?
    Am now following by the way

  3. Holy Moly! You just gave me an idea to put masking tape on the bottom of the pressing foot. PUL fabric is a pain to sew because of the same issue. Thanks!

  4. Just go for it Lorna! Let me know how you get on :)
    Naomi - I got lucky with this oilcloth. Walked past the shop I mentioned in Part 1, saw a remnant on the rail - just under 1/2 meter left. The let me have it for £2! You can still find it in John Lewis - last time I checked (Dec) it was £14 a meter!

  5. Iba - glad to be of help. I take it you are not roadtesting the talcum powder idea then :)? x

  6. Just found you! I could do with some encouragement in sewing oilcloth bags - how about starting a sew-a-long????
    Signed up to follow you too!!

  7. Hi Gill. Thanks for following. Just have a go. It's not as bad as it looks. Another thing great I love about oilcloth bags you've got the structure without needing for interfacing though I do put interlining to bulk it up a bit. A sew-a-long is a fantastic idea. Watch this space.