Look what's new at Grandma's Attic! Brightly colored bolts of oilcloth have just arrived, which inspired us to start thinking about the variety of projects we could make with them! I've been thinking about table coverings, lunch bags, dog food mats, high chair mats, book covers, shelf liners, aprons, wallets--just about anything you can dream up that would look good in pretty, waterproof fabric.
Oilcloth is a vinyl that is bonded and supported with a woven poly/cotton mesh. The surface can be wiped clean and the fabric passes the National Fire Protection Agency 701 classification for commercial and residential use. Popular since the 1940s, the fabrics are wild and wonderful. There are classic ginghams and checks, outlandish florals, and everything in between. These fabrics just seem to look best when they feature bright, bold, over-the-top florals, geometrics and prints.
Oilcloth first became popular as an inexpensive floor and roof covering in the 18th century. It was produced by stretching a linen cloth on a frame, coating it with sizing and rubbing it smooth with a pumice block. Afterwards, the cloth was coated with linseed oil and paint pigment. The end result was good, but the process to create it was slow and tedious.
Although oilcloth originated in England, it was adopted by American manufacturers and gained popularity in the 19th Century. The advent of non-cracking plastics and rotogravure printing made oilcloth commercially viable in the 20th century. By the 1930s and 40s, oilcloth was incredibly popular. Since it could be wiped down, it was perfect for covering the kitchen table.
One of the projects I like to make with oilcloth is a table runner or table cloth. Although the raw edges do not unravel or fray, I like to decorate it up by sewing large size rick rack around the edges. Fun! Another oilcloth project that we undertook here at Grandma's Attic concerns the folding and kit making tables in the back room. These office tables are dark brown with worn tops. They looked totally uninspiring until we used a staple gun to cover them with brightly colored oilcloth. What a difference! Now it's fun to sit at the bright colored tables while we create quilt kits for our customers.
If you like working with oilcloth, you will love using our selections in your next project. click here to see our newest oilcloth prints.