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Top Tips for Sewing with Oilcoth

Top Tips for Sewing with Oilcloth

So I know what you’re thinking…this blog is called “Kustom Kwilts”…what gives with the oilcloth?

There are so many skills in sewing and quilting that can be transferred to other things-garments, bags, household and decor items.  If you can sew a straight line, there are so many other amazing things you could be creating if you’re willing to do a little exploring.  I just released my new Mamacita Tote pattern, which is a perfect fit for using quilting cotton AND alternative fabrics!  The pattern suggests using oilcloth for the lining, and I don’t want to leave you hanging on how to do that (you can also use quilting cotton).  I love to quilt, but I also adore sewing clothing and bags.  I hope I can share some of that love with you!

Mamacita Tote in Quilting Cotton
Mamacita Tote in Quilting Cotton

What do I mean by alternative fabrics??  I’m talking about vinyl, leather, faux leather, and one of my personal favorites, OILCLOTH.  I’d love it if you were willing to read on and open yourself up to some great new possibilities for yourself!

Some of my favorite oilcloth prints
Some of my favorite oilcloth prints 🙂

Let me break it down for you:  A lot of the things you need to know about oilcloth also goes for other vinyl fabrics and faux leathers.  Here are some things you need to know before buying your first yard of oilcloth–

  • It’s water resistant/doesn’t absorb water.
  • It’s relatively inexpensive.
  •  It is super-duper easy to clean.  All you need is a wet paper towel and you can wipe off pretty much anything.
  •  It doesn’t fray.
  •  It’s more stable than quilting cotton, so most of the time it doesn’t need extra interfacing when used in bags.
  • When you use it as a purse lining, it wipes clean and is SO easy to maintain!

    Mamacita Tote with an Oilcloth lining
    Mamacita Tote with an Oilcloth lining

I’m sure I’m leaving a few important things out, but these things alone are pretty fantastic.  There are some things you’ll want to know about sewing with oilcloth and what you want to do a little differently than if you were sewing with regular quilting cotton.

Here are my Top Tips for sewing with OILCLOTH~

  • Don’t ever use an iron to get the wrinkles out!  You will melt the fabric, and more than likely ruin your iron.  I like to either use a blow dryer on low heat to relax wrinkles , or lay the fabric out in the sun on a flat surface for a few hours (I live in Texas, so sometimes it doesn’t take long!)
  • The holes your needle makes in the fabric are permanent.  That means you want to use a longer stitch length (somewhere around 3.5) so you have less perforations in the fabric.  If you’re using a teeny tiny stitch length, your needle is making a ton of holes that’s making your fabric weaker.
  • Don’t use sewing pins!  The holes they make will be permanent.  When securing oilcloth, use clips instead of pins.

    Pins and oilcloth are a big No-No!
    Pins and oilcloth are a big No-No!  Don’t do it!
  • Use a Teflon or non-stick sewing foot to help the oilcloth slide under your foot with ease.  If you don’t have a Teflon foot, you can also stick a piece of satin scotch tape under your sewing foot, and that will help ease the fabric instead of sticking to it.  You can also use tissue paper between the presser foot and the oilcloth, then tear it away when you’re done.
  • Since oilcloth is a little thicker than cotton, try using a slightly larger needle, like one suited for leather or denim.  If you try a smaller needle and it works okay for you, stick with it–because that means the holes the needle makes will be smaller :).

I buy all of my oilcloth at Jack’s Country Store (not an affiliate link).  It seems like an unlikely place to get it, but it’s a pretty fun site, and they have tons of options and cheap shipping.  Are you ready to try it?  Go ahead, be brave!  I have a total oilcloth addiction now, and it’s so easy to work with.  I’d love it if you gave it a go and shared with me how you used oilcloth in your next sewing project!  Happy sewing 🙂

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It’s finally here! The Mamacita Tote Pattern Release!!!

Mamacita Tote

Today is the official release day for the Mamacita Tote Pattern!  Hip hip hooray!!!  I’d love to tell you the story behind this pattern and why it’s so dear to me.

Mamacita Tote with Serape
Mamacita Tote with Serape

When I first started sewing, I loved to make things that were useful (that still applies today).  I love the feeling I get when I plan a project and sewing that last stitch, and the overwhelming feeling of pride I get when I know I made something that I love (or someone else will love).  I loved quilting, but I loved making bags even more.  I used to be an agriculture science teacher, so my purses were always getting filthy from being at stock shows and around livestock all the time.  I did some research on fabrics that were easy to clean, and I came across oilcloth.  Long story short, oilcloth is a wonderful fabric that doesn’t fray, wipes clean, and, in my experience, has a ridiculously long life.  So I’m going to show you my very first go at what evolved into today’s Mamacita Tote:

My very first oilcloth bag
My very first oilcloth bag

It isn’t exactly swoon worthy, but I loved it.  I used this bag for about a week before I realized the importance of interfacing and stabilizer in a bag this size, and made from all oilcloth.  It didn’t stand up on its own and was pretty floppy.  Also, when you sew with oilcloth, the holes made by the needle are permanent.  That means if you don’t lengthen your stitches, you’ll get lots of perforations that will weaken the fabric.  Hence, sewing the straps directly to the oilcloth where all the weight will be stressing the fabric = terrible idea.  I still have this bag in my sewing room and love to bring it out and see how far my design has come since January 2013.  That’s right.  This pattern has been FIVE YEARS in the making.

I needed a better way to attach the straps and I wanted a more stable, sturdy bag.  So another year of trying out different things and I came up with using large drapery grommets as the strap attachments.  I really loved this, but after I got a package of grommets from the manufacturer and they were all cracked from shipping, it was time to rethink using them.  I couldn’t risk having one break and then go through the hassle of replacing them all the time.  Quality supplies are my top priority.

The second generation Mamacita Loca bag
The second generation Mamacita Loca bag

I really like embroidering the vinyl or quilting it (or both!) and adding unique embellishments to make each bag unique.  Late in 2017, I have the absolute best version of this bag that I could dream of.  I’ve made over 200 of these bags, and even sell custom Mamacitas on Etsy.  They have an updated strap attachment that is stylish and functional, and I love the look of them.  I recently made my favorite Mamacita Tote EVER from Tula Pink’s latest line- De La Luna in quilting cotton.  Although I really like using oilcloth for the lining since it’s so easy to clean, I love the bright and vibrant colors in Tula’s line, so I’ll sacrifice the wipability for that, and just try really hard to keep my 1.5 year old from spilling her milk in it 😉

Mamacita Tote in De La Luna
Mamacita Tote in De La Luna

The Mamacita Tote has been my ultimate labor of love, and I know this pattern by heart.  I love that the lining keeps me organized with all the pockets, and that I can still be stylish or trendy with my fabrics.  Every time I make one, I remember how much I’ve grown as a sewist and how much I’ve learned from all my trial and error and fearlessness as a novel sewer.  I’d love to see your take on the Mamacita Tote and I hope you’ll share your creations with me (use the hashtag #mamacitatote or tag me @kustomkwilts) so I can see the amazing work you’ve done!

Embroidered Mamacita Totes
Embroidered Mamacita Totes