DIY Oilcloth Fabric Tutorial

Easy Clean Up Fabric Dining Room Chairs by

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Oilcloth fabric has many uses – but did you know you can easily turn ANY fabric you love into oilcloth?

It’s true! And today I’ll show you how it’s done!

I remember 20 years ago, when I was having my first child I learned about and starting looking into oilcloth for things like bibs and other items that rely on their waterproof properties.

The thing about it is, though, that most oilcloth you can find and buy commercially is usually in a pretty specific style. It’s usually bright, a bit retro (think 50s and 60s), really happy, colorful and cheery.

(These oilcloth covered chairs by Vickie Howell)

And that’s not to say those are bad characteristics. I certainly know that some people love those attributes in their decor; they’ve just never spoken to me.

Because of that, I’ve always been conflicted between loving the concept of oilcloth, but not being a fan of the fabrics the technique was usually used on.

Enter : DIY Oilcloth Fabric!

This is really a game-changer as far as I am concerned! Being able to make just about any fabric I want (*there are a few exceptions, which I’ll share below) into oilcloth fabric seems like the best of both worlds!

I think there are so many ways to use oilcloth, even in our every day lives!

Think about how cute it would be to make customized, water proof:

Isn’t it exciting to think about?

I think this fabric hack can be really helpful for moms with young children still at home (or Grandmas with young grandchildren)!

For my project today, I’m planning to make DIY oilcloth fabric to use for refinishing some new-to-me chairs I got for free!

Part One | The Chairs

I’ll actually be doing a second blog post on these chairs once I finish making the oilcloth fabric for the new seats. Then I can share my upholstery process as well!

I think these chairs are beautiful with simple lines, and can’t wait to redo them to fit into our home!

I’ll be replacing the foam for something a little thicker and softer, then recovering them with this new oilcloth fabric.

I also need to decide what I might want to do with the frames of the chairs! And they might ultimately end up out on our porch!

The Fabric:

Since a whole world opened up when I realized I could DIY most any fabric into oilcloth fabric, I then had a new problem, deciding which fabric I wanted to use!

Originally I was thinking a fun floral or plaid – but then realized that something too busy on the chair seats might compete too much with the lovely floral detail on the wooden chair frames!

So I stuck with a slightly textured linen solid in charcoal with blue undertones.

And while we’re on the subject of texture – as I mentioned earlier, you can do this oilcloth process with MOST fabrics. But it won’t work well with anything too textured like a brocade! Keep that in mind when you’re planning your project!

The linen I chose isn’t an upholstery fabric, so it’s a bit thinner than what I would usually use for a chair, but I loved it so much more than the upholstery fabrics I looked at!

I’m thinking if I need to, I’ll double layer this thinner material for the final product.

*This post contains affiliate links to products I know &/or love.

The Process for Creating Oilcloth Fabric:

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Your chosen material in enough yardage for whichever project you’re hoping to use it for.
  • Pellon 102 – Vinyl Fuse Matte – available in small rolls or by the bolt.
  • Iron
  • Ironing Surface *see notes below*

Step Number One | Pre-wash, Iron & Cut your Fabric

It’s a good idea to pre-wash most fabrics you get from the store, I’ve found!

Then once it’s washed and dried, you want to iron it as straight and flat as you possibly can! Any texture in the fabric will translate into wrinkles and unwanted texture in your final oilcloth material – so the smoother it is to start, the better off you’ll be!

Once it’s nice and smooth, measure and cut your material to size for your project (a square or rectangle big enough with some room on all sides.)

Step Number Two | Add on your Pellon vinyl fuse

Set your fabric right side up on a smooth hard surface. You will probably even want to skip your ironing board for this due to the fabric causing potential lines or wrinkles.

I use my granite counter-top, but any smooth, hard surface that is heat-safe will be a good option.

Do NOT use a painted wood dresser… and don’t ask me how I know. *oops

Then peel off the backing of the vinyl fuse (but don’t throw the paper away!). Stick the vinyl onto your fabric as smoothly as possible.

Then place the shiny side of your backing paper down over the top of the vinyl. This will protect the vinyl from melting when you iron it! Don’t skip this step!

Use your iron set to dry / no steam, and medium heat and iron each section for about 8 seconds. It’s okay to slightly overlap each section, just be sure not to iron off your protective paper!

Once you’ve ironed the entire piece, remove the protective paper and flip your fabric over (with the vinyl side now down), and iron the back for about 4 seconds in each area.

And that’s it! You’re done! Once cooled your fabric should be waterproof and ready for whichever project you’re ready to tackle!

For me, I’ll be making some final decisions about my chair frames, and then I’ll be back with another post to tell you all about what I decided and how I added this new oilcloth fabric for the upholstered seat!

Looking for a similar project?:

This summer I shared about my Patriotic Pillow Cover Tutorial with a similar iron-on vinyl process!

You could easily use that same tutorial for a cute fall theme pillow – or even a cute winter or Christmas pillow if you’re looking to get a head start!

You can get the free printable HERE.

Pin This Tutorial For Later:

Until next time,