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Oilcloth is made by attaching printed vinyl to a webbed cotton material. Traditionally oilcloth was made by adding layers of linseed oil to cotton fabric to make it water resistant. Aren't you glad you live in the age of modern manufacturing?
Oilcloth is attached to any surface to give it a more durable finish and to add style with cute prints, modern designs and countless variations of solids and patterns. The designs are typically retro, but modern designers have come up with some beautiful new prints as well. You can get an idea of the variety available on eBay.
I found my roll of oilcloth at a local auction, selling for under $1. There was enough cloth to cover two tables and still have yards left over.
This is what my table looked like before it was given a new face. Once upon a time, this table was painted with chalkboard paint and used as a kids' art table. Then it was given a coat of regular latex paint and used for art and meals. It clearly had gotten its fair share of markers, scissors, forks and spaghetti sauce and needed some help. Below are the steps I took to give it new life.
1. Measure and cut the oilcloth.
It couldn't be easier to measure and cut oilcloth. Simply lay it flat on the surface of the table and slide a pair of scissors around the perimeter, leaving 2 to 3 inches of excess.
3. Smooth out any wrinkles.
Do you see bubbles at the edges of the cloth? Smooth those out before attaching the cloth to the tabletop.
Start at the center of the table and smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles with your hands. You can use a credit card to smooth the fabric if you wish, but hands work just fine.
4. Attach the fabric.
You can attach the fabric with glue, staples or even tape. Attaching the cloth to a tabletop requires the same method as attaching a canvas to a frame or re-covering a chair seat. Imagine you are looking at a clock. Start at 12:00, then pull the fabric tight and attach 6:00, then 3:00, then 9:00. You want to make sure those four crossing points are as tight as possible.
5. Pull the fabric into pleats.
With a round table, there will be pleating when you attach the cloth. Once you have glued or stapled the fabric at four equidistant points around the table, you can start pleating. Simply fold down little pleats of fabric, attempting to minimize any wrinkles along the edge of the table. Glue, tape or staple at the very edge of the fabric (where my thumb is) so that the fabric does not hang down under the table.
6. Double check and secure.
After you have worked your way around the table, go back and make sure there are no wrinkles. I hot glued the fabric onto the table but then went back over the finished product and secured any loose pleats with a staple gun.
Once the cloth is secure, you now have a new, washable surface, with a great pattern to boot! This project took a total of 10 minutes and cost less than $1. It is hard to beat that for an afternoon project.
To learn more about oilcloth projects and possibilities, you might want to check out Oilcloth Addict.
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