How to easily turn any fabric into oilcloth.*

*Oilcloth like...It looks like shiny raincoat material! But its fab for making your creations waterproof or making raincoats!

Technique Materials

-Any fabric (although I have only really used furnishing cottons...but be brave and experiment!)

-Glossy transparent plastic contact sheet, (sticky back plastic) on a roll i.e Fablon

-Iron or heat-press

-tea-towel or Teflon sheet

36 Comments Sign in to add a post

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    Aug 9, 2012, 03.45 AMby Crystal Romero

    I tried this application last night and the contact paper peeled from the fabric, I then washed the fabric thinking if I removed the sizing and finish it would stick better, but it still peeled. Does anyone know why that is happening? My husband thinks that when I sew it that it won’t come undone, so we’ll see!

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    Jan 4, 2012, 05.03 PMby Heleen de Haan

    help!! I’m trying to make this wonderful raincoat, but the whole waterproofing project is awful… the sticky plastic (the stuff that is for book covering) is going all bubbly and wobbly while ironing, it doesn’t really stick to the fabric but it does kind of stick to the tea towel I use for ironing. I’ve tried everything, ironing the fabric side, ironing the plastic side, using a tea towel, using baking paper, smooth ironing, pressing… it feels all so hopeless. Does anyone know what is going wrong? thanks a million!

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    Jul 29, 2010, 02.40 PMby luly2

    Thank you, I just used this idea with regular contact paper like the one you would use for books, on the bottom of a purse I’, making so it wont get dirty if I put it on the floor and it looks beautiful, it even gives it a little something extra with the extra shine, I’m very happy I could use the same fabric and make it water and stain resistant : ) thanks

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    Aug 8, 2009, 07.59 PMby valkea

    Yeah… The dollar store stuff made my flannel change pad noisy to roll up. Didn’t appreciate the end result at all. Do you people have better experience with more expensive contact paper (plastic with sticky back, meant for books)?

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    Jul 7, 2009, 04.14 PMby aBeachBreeze

    Ok! I know what you’re talking about! I found it at Lowe’s, here’s a link to it

    I’m going to go get some tonight!

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    Jul 7, 2009, 04.02 PMby aBeachBreeze

    hmmmm….I wonder if that sticky plastic that you use to cover the carpet when you paint would work. They sell that for pretty cheap in the paint section of Home Depot (and Lowe’s probably). I’ll have to try that soon! Great idea!

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    Jun 18, 2009, 10.43 AMby gray

    Its a very neat idea….I will have to try it out…..

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    Jun 15, 2009, 02.32 PMby ica171

    I’ve made this a few times, just wanted to share my experiences.

    1. If you make it, finish the edges or else it will separate in the wash. 2. Sometimes when I wash it I get wrinkles on the fabric. The best way I’ve found to avoid this is to put the plastic on both sides of the fabric.

    Hope this helps, I love this idea and plan to use it for all my diaper bag linings.

  • Missing

    May 18, 2009, 12.30 PMby ohiosarah

    Can I do this to both sides of the fabric? Does it sew well/hold up under the needle?

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    Apr 14, 2009, 03.27 AMby jettte

    A quick heads up on different materials: I first tried it on a thin piece of cotton similar to what I’d make a shirt out of and that didn’t work at all. The material got all crinkly from the contact contracting and it looked generally horrible. Now, a few months later, I found the courage to try again. After all, everyone else is raging about how great this is, so maybe I just did something wrong. So, I tried it with a thicker furnishing type material and it worked perfectly. I’m thrilled! I absolutely love oilcloth but can never find any with patterns I like. Now I can just buy cool fabric and turn it into oilcloth! Thank you KatieJean, you’re a star!

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    Jan 16, 2009, 03.14 AMby sazzle

    Terrific idea, if only it wasn’t 10.30pm I’d be starting an oilcloth project now. Plus, oddly enough despite being in Australia, I bought my ‘tacky back plastic’ from B&Q in my first year of teacher training when I lived back in uk!

  • Missing

    Dec 26, 2008, 09.16 AMby 3kids

    I am just sewing a big bag for books and I will try this on a scrap. Does anybody know what happens when washing the lot? I might try this out before doing the bottom of my bag … Thanks for the idea. Rita

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    Nov 25, 2008, 09.00 PMby nt2swt

    Just wanted to let you all know that they are selling this clear contact paper at the Dollar Store now.

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    Nov 11, 2008, 03.11 PMby christinesarah

    This is awesome – thank you so much. Oilcloth is really expensive but this is an affordable way of getting a similar finish! I’m going to try this today. Thanks Heaps!!!!!

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    Oct 29, 2008, 06.32 PMby dazed81

    THIS is AWESOME. I heart you. I think this would be awesome for bags. Inside and Out! With a toddler I need to wipe off lots of things. I even have a roll of contact paper! Thanks so much for your work to add this!!!

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    Oct 20, 2008, 07.05 AMby themisstress

    WOW! Fantastic idea. One of those times you think “why didn’t I think of that!” By the way, in England, it’s called Laminate. You can buy it in any stationer’s. Can’t wait to try it.

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    Oct 20, 2008, 03.25 AMby justsewin

    MrMrsUnicorn, I believe (and anyone feel free to correct me if I have mispoken), once this process is completed, the fabric becomes “wipe-able”. Think um…oh yeah, think, outdoor picnic table tablecloth. I don’t think it’s safe to put in a washing machine. I hope this helps. Good Luck!

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    Oct 17, 2008, 03.12 PMby lookingpast

    THis is great and VERY timely! After Hurricane Ike came for a visit, my husband and I bought a rather large generator and he’s been asking me to make a waterproof cover for it. The cover is nearly done but I hadn’t a clue about the waterproofing part!

    BTW—for the cover I’m using painter drop cloths—not the big plastic sheets, but the fabric ones. They’ve got some sort of sizing but a good wash or two gets that out and the drop cloths turn into this great textured cotton, very soft. The texture is kindy nubby, and it’s a sort of ‘natural’ color, with lovely brown flecks. I’m using my stash for the cover, but then I’m going to get more for trousers and jacket. Another plus is that painter drop cloths come in huge sizes and they’re dirt cheap.

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    Oct 17, 2008, 08.49 AMby tinyskids

    I believe that here in the states its called contact paper. The kind you find in supermarkets and drug stores in the school section. The stuff you use to cover your books, or laminate papers(etc..)

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    Oct 15, 2008, 08.34 AMby lukastoka

    hi this is nice it could help in alot of things more than sewing i ’ve got some ideas i just wanna know what is the contact sheet and where I can find it please tell me and thank you so much ;)

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    Oct 9, 2008, 03.02 AMby chrisjalys

    What a fantastic idea, I have been using PVC covered cloth to make aprons and bags, but it tears. I will try this next time I make some – thanks Katie

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    Oct 8, 2008, 03.15 AMby gayepaula

    Oh I do love this!! I’m thinking a raincoat-style coat, with bit oilcloth ‘drops’ all over!

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    Oct 8, 2008, 01.42 AMby mumxie

    Wow can’t wait to try this. I even have a heat press so this will be easy. Thanks for posting this how-to hope you get the pics sorted out.

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    Oct 7, 2008, 11.26 PMby aestheticwaif

    This is a great idea! Now I’m not chained to the unimaginative waterproof fabrics we have available. Yay!

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    Oct 7, 2008, 07.23 PMby littlebutton

    Thank you so much for this – what an awesome how-to! Kids art-smocks would be perfect for this.

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    Oct 7, 2008, 04.25 PMby katiejeanseymour

    Thanks for letting me know about the iron on vinyl and the differences between that and contact plastic. I’ll be sure to try and find some and experiment with it. With regards to washing, I have not tried it yet, so it would be worth making a test piece and giving it a go. I reckon the iron on vinyl will be more likely to last as it says it is suitable for making baby bibs, and they have to be washed regularly. I hadn’t really planned on putting any of my plastic covered pieces in the wash, just a sponge clean if they get dirty.

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    Oct 7, 2008, 03.31 PMby mrmrsunicorn

    Would I be able to wash the fabric after I covered it with contact paper? Or would the two separate?

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    Oct 7, 2008, 02.47 PMby mom25

    The Therm-O-Web iron on vinyl is not exactly the same as the contact sheet referred to originally in this how-to. The Contact Sheet is thicker and has more tack to the back part, because it’s intended for covering books, or for shelf covering etc. (As KatieJean said, it’s sold in hardware stores, sometimes by the yard and sometimes by the roll, and also in office supply stores, usually in smaller rolls, for covering books). The Therm-o-Web iron-on vinyl is more lightweight and has only minimal tack to it because the glue is only supposed to hold till you iron it and fuse it to the fabric that way. I do believe both will work – you just need to decide if you want the heavier (and more easily found, less expensive) Contact sheet, or want to have a more lightweight item, in which case you’ll need the iron-on vinyl. I do believe that if you google “iron on vinyl” you will also find some generic makes of it, which will save you a penny – or several! Either way, it’s a great way to make waterproof or at least water resistant fabrics for bags, raincoats, kitchen appliances – whatever you can dream up. Oh, one more thing: The iron-on vinyl can be found in both glossy and matte versions, if you don’t want the shiny look but do want the waterproofing. The contact vinyl can be found with embedded patterns in it (not printed, sort of etched into the plastic). So you have lots of options for playing. And last – you can always use the vinyl on the BACK of the fabric, so that it is not seen but still keeps the inside nice and dry.

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    Oct 7, 2008, 01.52 PMby katiejeanseymour

    I’ve not heard of Therm-O-Web, but by the sounds of it, thats the right stuff, give it a go. Yes, if the plastic for covering books is sticky back it will work. Good luck with all your projects x x

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    Oct 7, 2008, 01.11 PMby sokkenmonster

    Is it the plastic you can use for covering books and things like that as well? (if that’s it it would be great, I’ve got tons of it :)!)

    • This is a question
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