Sewing with oilcloth isn’t like sewing with any other fabric. Oilcloth is stiff, much thicker and slides less smooth, but it also has many great features. Therefore, I listed some useful tips you need to read before starting your first oilcloth-project…
Use an adapted foot
Since oilcloth has the tendency to creep and might stick, you need and adapted foot like a Teflon foot or a roller foot. When stitching on the back of the fabric, a standard foot won’t give any problem.
Don’t you have these special feet? Place masking, painters or matte scotch tape on the bottom of a regular pressure foot. Don’t forget to cut out the part where the needle and thread go through.
Another option is to use household, tissue or newspaper between the foot and the oilcloth. After sewing, you just tear the paper away. When the oilcloth is facing the needle plate, it’s also recommended covering the needle plate with the tape or paper in order to make the oilcloth move more smoothly.
Don’t use pins
It’s important that you don’t use pins to hold the pattern pieces in place or to keep the different parts of oilcloth together. Pins actually leave permanent holes in the fabric. Besides oilcloth is a heavy fabric which makes it difficult to push through the pins. If you really really do want to use pins, make sure you pin within the seam allowance.
Alternative options: tape, paperclips, binder clips, hair clips, hem clips, clothespins or wonder clips. However watch out, some of these clips leave marks if you leave them too long.
Change sewing settings
You can sew oilcloth with almost every sewing machine, but you do need to change some settings. It’s important to enlarge stitch length. As it happens, small stitches will perforate the fabric too much and may cause the seam to tear apart.
Watch out with pressing
In most of the cases, you can iron the back of oilcloth. However, you always need to be careful since Vinyl easily melts. Therefore, we recommend that you apply pressure with your finger to make folding lines or to place something heavy on top of it overnight.
Oilcloth is a thicker tissue and needs a larger and sharper needle, like a denim needle size 14 or 16.
It is important to stitch right from the first time since every stitch leaves holes in your tissue. Sew slowly and carefully and always try out on a scrap piece before starting.