Google+ wunderbar: Oilcloth Placemats

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Oilcloth Placemats

Today I'm going to show you how to make easy oilcloth placemats. I've seen fancier ones that use the contrasting fabric to make edge binding, but no such fanciness will be featured today.

For those of you have never heard of this fabric:

a cotton fabric made waterproof by being treated with oil and pigment, for use as tablecloths, shelfcoverings, and the like.

Oilcloth is very old fashioned (vintage, if you want to be hip), and has been used in kitchens for ages. Traditional oilcloth is quite stiff and plastic feeling - don't be deceived by its relative  "laminated fabric" which is more pliable. That being said, there's more laminated fabrics available than oilcloths. The oilcloths available tend to be retro patterns. I buy my oilcloth here, though there are many Etsy shops that provide it as well. 

But why oilcloth? 


wipes clean

 super cute

I don't have kids yet, but the first two qualities are very important to me. I get really tired of washing placemats. So tired that I avoid putting them out just so I don't have to wash them. How terrible is that? Added bonus, you can make them whatever size you like! My mom has a square table that regular placemats don't fit, but I made her a set of square oilcloth placemats that fit perfectly. 

Oilcloth Placemats
Materials & Supplies
measuring tape & ruler
expo marker
pinking shears
tissue paper

*I made six 13" x 18" placemats from 2 yards of 47" wide oilcloth (one yard of each fabric)

Upon opening your oilcloth (if ordered online), you will probably notice that it is very creased. If you are sewing in the summer, I've heard you can lay oilcloth out on a warm day and ease the creases out. If you are, like me, sewing in the dead of winter, you'll have to resort to your iron. (Note: Anna from Oilcloth by the Yard let me know that you can also order oilcloth on the roll to eliminate creases - awesome!)

On a medium setting, run your iron over the creases (on the wrong side of the oilcloth) until they relax. Keep the iron moving - you don't want to melt your fabric! The creases probably won't disappear entirely. This step is intended to smooth out the fabric for sewing. The creases will go away on their own over time. 

See, I still had creases? But they were much improved. Promise. 

Next, cut out your fabric. (If you're lucky and your oilcloth was pretty neatly folded in half, you may be able to just follow the crease down the middle and cut two 18"(ish) wide pieces. Then you only have to mark and cut the placemats' height.) I used an Expo marker to help mark because it glides smoothly across the oilcloth and wipes off easily. (Don't fret it it leaves a shadow on lighter fabric - you'll be cutting off the edges anyway.)

Repeat for your contrast fabric.

With wrong sides together, pin together as smoothly as you can. No bumps! Sometimes this is difficult with oilcloth because it's stiffer than fabric. (Note: Yes, pinning oilcloth will leave pin holes in your fabric. You could adhere the pieces together with spray adhesive instead, but I prefer the security of pins. The pinholes have never bothered me...they seem to smooth out over time.)

Time to break out the tissue paper! You'll need one sheet for every placemat.
(Note: Anna was also kind enough to tell me that if you use a plastic or teflon foot, you won't need to use tissue paper.)

Position the tissue paper between the oilcloth and presser foot. The tissue paper will help the foot glide along nicely - DO NOT ATTEMPT WITHOUT THE TISSUE PAPER. Or if you do, don't cry when the oilcloth bunches up in the corner and you have to pick out all the stitches and try again....with tissue paper. Because I've warned you. :) 

Sew as usual around all four sides. I used a 1/4" seam allowance.

Now the fun part. Rip that tissue paper off! It should rip off cleanly, but occasionally you'll be left with tiny bits stuck in the stitches. Picking them out can be a little tedious, but not as tedious as seam ripping the entire placemat because you didn't use tissue paper. Promise. 

With pinking shears, cut around the edges of each placemat leaving about an 1/8". 

And you're done! 

Here are my beauties, all ready to be soiled. 

And here's the lovely reverse side. 

I think I'm going to make coordinating coasters with the scraps!

The 36th AVENUEshabby creek cottagePhotobucketSweet Bella RoosBecoming MarthaWhipperberryToo Much Time On My HandsPhotobucket I Heart Nap TimeLovely Crafty Home Sweet Anne Designs - Sweet Sharing Monday
Skip To My LouPhotobucket’ Mrs. ToriCreative Sewing BlogWhite Lights on WednesdaysThe Fun In Functional @ Practically Functional - Wednesdays @ 8am


  1. I've nominated you for the Liebster Award!

    One Red Shoe

  2. This is great, I've been wanting to get some oilcloth and start doing some cute projects with it. Thanks for the idea.

    Lindsey @

  3. Thanks for including on your blog!

    We can ship our fabric on the roll for you to prevent creases, simply request UPS shipping!

    Also if you have a plastic foot or teflon foot, use it for your oilcloth projects, this will eliminate the need for tissue paper. The foot costs $3.50-$5.00 depending on your machine.

    All the best!

    1. That's great to know!! Thanks for the advice.

  4. So cute! I've been wanting to make placemats for our table. And I love that pattern.

  5. These are a great idea and so pretty. Thanks so much for linking up :)

    Sarah @ A Cat-Like Curiosity

  6. Love these placemats! I've never sewed oilcloth before. My mother and grandmother swear its better than the laminate that Joanne's sells now. I didn't know where to buy some. Thanks for the source!

  7. Wonderful project! I've often seen cute oilcloth in stores, but have never worked with it. Thanks so much for the great tutorial and pictures! Love the polka-dots!

  8. Great idea! Thanks for the tutorial. I've been telling my husband for awhile we need to cover the entire eating area in oilcloth to protect it from our 3 kids, so maybe placemats would be a reasonable place to start. I'm pinning this one!
    If you feel like sharing I have a Monday Makeover for Your Table link party every week up Monday thru Friday. I'd love to have you show off this project.

  9. I've never sewn with oilcloth, but it sounds very much like sewing with leather. I use bulldog clips to hold the leather while I sew. Maybe that would work with oilcloth. A comprehensive and easy to follow tutorial.

  10. So cute and so simple! Thanks for the tip for using tissue paper with metal sewing machine feet. I'll remember this for when I have to make some for when my son gets older and lots messier!
    Thanks for linking up!

  11. Brilliant, oilcloth is perfect for placemats! I featured this on my blog today! You can check it out and grab a button here:

  12. I love a simple sewing project - anything much beyond sewing a straight line is out of my league at this point. I'll put these on my to-try list!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blogging tips