Thursday, June 23, 2011

Q & A: Oilcloth vs. Laminated Cotton vs. Chalkcloth (TM)

Left to right: Three bolts of laminated cotton, two bolts of oilcloth and one bolt of Chalkcloth TM.
Inquiring minds want to know... what's the difference between oilcloth and laminated cotton? A lot and not much all. Confused? Let's break it down:

Laminated Cotton:
55"/56" wide
Slight sheen
Waterproof and easy to clean
Easy to sew with the right tips and tools
CPSIA compliant
Edges do not fray
Made in Korea

Laminated cotton is a high quality cotton sheeting with a thin layer of polyurethane film adhered to the right side of the fabric. It's soft and has a very nice hand to it, it drapes very nicely and it even does gathers well!

This fabric makes great baby bib, raincoats, shower curtains, tablecloths, splat mats, diaper bags and much more.

47"/48" wide
PVC product
Contains Phthlates
Really shinny!
Waterproof and easy to clean
NOT CPSIA compliant 
Fun and easy to sew 
Edges do not fray
Made in Mexico

Oilcloth is a thick layer of PVC on top of a cotton mesh. While it is very thin, it is pretty stiff stuff, it doesn't do gathers! It's very strong and durable, oilcloth tablecloths remain bright and looking brand new for years and years.

Oilcloth makes great totes,  coin purses, tablecloths, floor mats, placemats and much more.

Because oilcloth contains phthalates it is not intended for the use for baby items or for projects for kids under the age of 12. You'll want to substitute laminated cotton for those projects.

47"/48" wide
PVC product
Matte finish
Is CPSIA compliant and great for kids!
Fun and easy to sew with
You can scribble on it!!
Easy to care for
Edges do not fray
Made in Mexico

Chalkcloth TM is a very fun and easy fabric to work with. It's a bit thicker than the oilcloth and less pliable. It makes great placemats, table runner, reusable gift tags and much more. See our tutorials for more ideas. While it's a bit thick for a tablecloth it's great as a table topper!


Lindsay Conner said...

Hey, thanks for entering the giveaway at Craft Buds! I recognized your name since I've bought oilcloth from your shop before, and I was wondering... are there types of laminated cotton that you could use for food products (reusable sandwich bags)? Not sure if you knew what could be a food-safe substitute for oilcloth. :)

Kelly McCants said...

Here are my thoughts on that question.

I contacted Westminster Fibers, INC to see if they had run this fabric through testing to see if it was "food safe" and they haven't tested it. So I can't say for sure that it is or isn't food safe.

I can say that it is PVC and BPA free. From what I have read this is good indication, but of course I am NOT a scientist and I don't even play on TV. : )

As with all the big questions in life we have to educate ourselves and do what's right for us and out families.

Hope this helps. I really wish I could give a concrete answer. I really do. : )

Courtney said...

This is great information, thanks! My question is what's the difference between Laminated Cotton and PUL - is it basically the same except LC has the coating on the right side of the fabric and PUL has it on the wrong side or is there more to it than that?

sharon said...

Hi, I would like to know if phthalate free chalkboards exists as there are places that market such things, such as this site: go to SHOPUrbanBaby > Gift > GuideGifts > For Girls Chalk Cloth Table Mat


Sherry @ Living in the Rain Garden said...

Great blog. Do you think I could use laminated cotton or oilcloth to make slipcovers for a Ikea Hendirskal dining chair?

Kelly McCants said...

Hello Sherry!! Check out Dana's great chairs here:

Both fabrics are great for your project but oilcloth can be a little sticky, so laminate might be nicer to sit one!!

Let use know how it turns out.

Laurie said...

Just finished my first oilcloth market tote--love! It mentions in the book using laminated cotton reinforced- what type of lining shoud I use to give the laminated cotton more structure? Thank you!

Kelly McCants said...

Laurie, I would use Pellon #926 You should be able to find it at your local fabric shop!!

Here's some info:

Mindy Bell said...

Hi there,

Thanks for the info. Was wondering if laminated cotton is safe for baby bibs or does the plastic coating cause a suffocation hazard?

Kelly McCants said...

Dear Barna,

I've never heard of that happening before. Many companies use plasticized fabric for bibs for ages and ages.

As a momma, I believe in trusting my instincts. You should always do what feels best for your family!!

All my best,

sj said...

Great site and exactly what I was looking for. Thank you for explaining the difference in Oilcloth and Laminated Cotton. One question. I am recovering a couch and I am wanting to use one of these types of fabrics to cover it. Would I be better off going with the Laminated cotton since there may be some gatherings for corners??

Heather Schubert said...

Can you wash any of these products? What about drying?

Kelly McCants said...

Hello Heather,

You cannot machine wash or dry oilcloth or chalk cloth. Trust me, I tried to machine wash oilcloth once and I ruined the fabric.

Laminated cotton can be washed and dried in a machine, I don't recommend doing so unless it's something small like a baby bib or changing mat.

The twisting of the spin cycle creates some pretty wicked wrinkles on large pieces of laminated cotton fabrics and the dryer sets them.

I recommend that you machine wash the small messy pieces and allow them to drip dry for longevity.

Keep in mind that the whole point of slick fabrics is not having to machine wash. Just wipe it down and your done.

What are you wanting to make?


abaker said...

Hi! Your site is great! What do you recommend to create a pennant bunting that will stay on a screened porch for the summer and fall? The back side will be to the screen and will likely get damp/wet when it rains. I looked at your no-sew tutorial, but can't tell if that is made to stay semi-outdoors for a longer duration?? Which type should I buy? Thanks so much! We are so excited about a porch overhaul and your vibrant colors will be a centerpiece!

Sharon said...

Your site has great info, thanks for breaking it down. It seems to me laminated cotton would be just right for making reusable sandwich/snack bags for my kids. Am I on the right track?

*Katie* said...

Hi, cold the laminated cotton be used for sandwich bags etc? Thanks :)

Kelli Manthei said...

I would like to make an outdoor tablecloth with a laminated cotton fabric I found. How does it stand up to every day outdoor use? I live in Southern California near the beach so sparse rain but sea air and lots of sun.

Kelli Manthei said...

Might be double posting - sorry if so. I would like to make an outdoor tablecloth with laminated cotton. How does it hold up to every day outdoors use? For reference I live near the beach in Southern California so sparse rain, lots of sun and salty air.

Anonymous said...

I would like to use oilcloth to line drawers and shelves in the kitchen, but I'm worried about the PVC. How long would I need to air it out before using it in a kitchen environment?

Kelly McCants said...

Great question! If you leave it out of doors unfolded for about 3 days you should be in business.

Think about using the laminated cotton instead. It's thinner so you would want to use some double stick tape to keep in in place.


Deena said...

Could you use oilcloth or laminated cotton as a floor covering? Could it be permanently adhered to the floor?