photo image: http://mexicansugarskull.com/
Why do they call it "oil"cloth? Probably because the recently advertised "real oilcloth" that is all the rage is made from cotton fabric covered with a petroleum based coating. However, genuine oilcloth, the real thing grandma had on her kitchen table was made from cotton duck, canvas or linen that was
coated several times with linseed oil to give it a waterproof-ish surface. The fabric could be dyed or printed before the linseed treatment.
Genuine oilcloth is biodegradable in a landfill. The falsely advertised "real oilcloth" made from PVC or polyvinyl chloride does not break down in a landfill.
If you need your custom fabric laminated with a PVC coating, here are a number of companies who will do the job for you.
If you'd like to give the real thing a try, here's what you need:
Heavy cotton duck or canvas
Wooden stretcher frame
Linseed Oil and paintbrush
Oil paint or oil dyes if you want to create your own design
Now here's how you do it:
1, Stretch fabric onto frame for stability and smoothness
2. Create a design by tie dyeing, stamping or painting with oil dyes or paints
3. With long brush strokes, cover entire piece of fabric on the good side, let dry, repeat
4. Add design between coats of linseed oil and keep coating and letting it dry
5. Once it's good and coated, remove from frame, trim edges and use as desired
If you want to make an entirely water resisitant piece, make the item and dip it completely in linseed oil, let dry and repeat.
Oilcloth Upholstery Tip:
When using real or PVC oilcloth, use thicker staples, staple diagonally to the grain of the fabric and use a heavier grade of fabric. Laminated fabric tends to tear like paper if you staple with the grain and using finer staples.
I've used Custom Laminations on the list of fabric laminators and they have been most satisfactory.