Laminated Cotton Sewing Tips

There’s been a parade of laminated cottons making their way into the shop over the last month. Anna Maria Horner, Amy Butler, Kaffe Fasset and more to come! Each arrival sends my brain into idea overload. I took some time this past weekend to experiment, play and sew!

What is laminated cotton? I will speak to the fabrics manufactured by Westminster Fibers/Free Spirit Fabrics. At the base of these fabrics is a regular quilting cotton weight cloth. The current crop of fabrics from this manufacturer are all 54″ wide. The wrong side of the fabric is the base quilting cotton. The right side of the fabric is laminated with a polyurethane coating (Anna Maria Horner recently shared this info on her blog! thank you because I’ve been getting this question alot!). Anna Maria also states that Westminster responded the coating does not contain Phthalates and they are not made with vinyl or PVC (polyvinyl chloride).

What is oilcloth? Original oilcloth was canvas fabric treated with a coating based on linseed oil. The current textiles we see referred to as ‘oilcloth’ are actually PVC-coated woven cotton fabric. For more information on the history you can read this very good article from eBay seller Lulus Dress Shop. I made a pet food mat and a cutting table cover using this textile. It is fairly rigid and works great for what I would call ‘flat’ projects. I would never use it to make clothes because it’s just too darn stiff.

What is the laminated cotton hand like? The fabric has a fair amount of drape and was very easy to sew with. In general, it sews just like any other cotton fabric. There are a few quirks I’ll go into detail on below.

Can it be laundered? I put two pieces into the washing machine and ran a ‘hand washing’ cycle with cold water and my favorite delicate soap crystals. I hung the first piece on a hanger and allowed it to drip dry (photo above). The second piece I put into the dryer. I’ll be honest. Both looked exactly the same after they dried. Absolutely no difference. No shrinking (I measured). Both were slightly wrinkled but in exactly the same way. The heat of the dryer appeared to have no effect on the fabric at all.

What about those wrinkles?! I stacked the Merck Manual and the Rodale Synonym Finder on top of a folded up piece of laminated cotton for 5 days. Crease city (image above)! Probably what it looks like after being stuffed into a flat rate envelope and shipped halfway around the world.

I’ve read lots of advice that says to use a hair dryer to remove the wrinkles. This did not work for me. I tried it in a number of ways and for very long durations, it didn’t do one darn thing toward removing the creases.

I threw it in the dryer for 10 minutes. Nothing. No discernible effect whatsoever.

I then returned to my first love, a hot iron!

I placed the laminated cotton face down on the ironing board, covered it with a cotton pressing cloth, spritzed the pressing cloth with water, and pressed with a hot iron (yes, HOT iron, the cotton setting). I tried a lower iron setting and it didn’t remove the creases. The iron did not melt anything through the pressing cloth. The edge curled up rather fiercely when I nicked it directly with the edge of the iron!

I also ironed with steam on and steam off. The steam on seemed to create a certain amount of condensation on the laminate side of the fabric. It wasn’t really helping with the wrinkles so I left it off moving forward.

Sewing Tips:

– Pins leave holes. I quickly learned to stick my pins within the seam allowance.

– Use a walking foot. It kept the laminated side of the fabric moving smoothly through the machine. I read several articles recommending painter’s tape on the bed of the machine and the use of a teflon foot. I did not need these solutions.

– I used a regular sewing machine needle. I used my favorite #100 topstitching needle for exterior stitching which is what I would use for any topstitching.

– Thread was cotton/polyester.

– Not really a tip but an observation: sewn seams don’t lay flat, even when covered with a pressing cloth and ironed. It didn’t cause problems but it made me aware that I’ll never get a nice creased edge on project components using laminated cotton. More of a design consideration than anything else.

What are your tips for sewing with laminated cotton?

Tomorrow:  I’ll share two projects using laminated cotton.

11/20/09: links to laminated cotton tote bag project + laminated cotton tablecloth project

pink chalk fabrics ~*~ new arrivals ~*~ free patterns ~*~ on sale
86 Responses to Laminated Cotton Sewing Tips
  1. Rachel
    May 17, 2010 | 10:29 am

    Great tips! I use the same method as you to get the wrinkles out – a HOT iron on the reverse side with a pressing cloth. Also, because I don’t like the curling seams either, I make French seams. It takes a little longer, but they look neater and they lay a little flatter.

  2. […] haven’t felt these laminates yet, I will tell you that the hand on them is so light. Check out this wonderful blog post from the talented and charming Kathy Mack of Pink Chalk Studio that discusses […]

  3. Jerry
    July 13, 2010 | 12:16 pm

    I would like to get comparison between Lycra, laminated fabric and foam rubber in terms of time taken to sew, cost of fabric, function, appearance, impact and form

  4. ::Laminated Cotton:: « SEW KATIE DID
    July 21, 2010 | 12:53 pm

    […] so the other day I pulled the zipped box pouch tutorial from Indie House and combined it with the tips on laminated cotton from Kathy of Pink Chalk […]

  5. stacy
    September 11, 2010 | 12:24 pm

    thanks so much! this was very helpful. i’m about to start a laminated oilcloth project but didn’t know if i could iron it or not. so glad you shared!

  6. Keri
    October 3, 2010 | 9:01 am

    The fabric for the laminated cotton is EXACTLY what I want for our dining table! Can you tell me the name of it and who sells it?

    Thanks so much!

  7. kate spain
    October 7, 2010 | 5:18 pm

    Kathy, thanks so much for putting laminates to the test! i’m finally going to cut into mine now…with gusto! was wondering about the ironing on the wrong side and so happy to know it’s ok to do. hope you’re doing very well and thanks again. hugs, kate

  8. bambinosteps
    January 1, 2011 | 2:06 pm

    This is such fantastic information; thank you for doing all of the testing and initial leg work for us!

  9. Weekly Digest for February 24th « May Yan
    February 24, 2011 | 10:50 pm

    […] Laminated Cotton Sewing Tips | Pink Chalk Studio. Filed under: tweets Leave a comment Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) ( subscribe to comments on […]

  10. Sacottr21
    March 9, 2011 | 6:30 am

    Stunning. I must try for my round table. I just finished my first laminated cotton rain hat. I found the hemming difficult but one thing I found that worked pretty good was using paper clips (the ones with plastic coating) instead of pins. I was surprised at how well it held the two sides together!

  11. Lunch Bags for a Good Cause
    March 25, 2011 | 10:30 am

    […] If you haven’t worked with cotton laminates before, the ever-wonderful Kathy Mack has a great blog post telling you all you need to know about them! I love working with laminates and find the fabric […]

  12. Chris
    May 7, 2011 | 6:14 am

    Thank you for answering so many questions that have been bugging me about my obsession. You have done a great service to the oilcloth community! I find the big difference for me is this: oilcloth from Mexico = phthalate-containing; laminated cotton from wherever = phthalate-free. Am I wrong?

    I was in Hart’s Fabrics in California last year–they had on display the most adorable raincoat sewn of what I believe was laminated cotton. As I recall, it was a well-made garment, with no hint of bad hems. Maybe they could share info with you about how it was done.

    Sharing your blog now with my crafty friend!

  13. TDR
    June 14, 2011 | 4:32 am

    Question — does the lamination process prevent or decrease fraying of the fabric edges? I’d like to make several tablecloths and laminated cotton seems like the perfect fabric. I was wondering if I have to turn the edge in twice? Or if once will do?

  14. […] Laminated Cotton Sewing Tips […]

  15. […] For help getting started with Laminate, she used Kathy’s Laminated Cotton Sewing Tips  ( […]

  16. […] and they share some great tips on making the aprons extra functional (tape measure ribbon!) and how to use laminates. Check out their blog for more info and subscribe to keep up with their fantastic projects. […]

  17. […] We also have other laminated lovelies perfect for a cute craft apron, tote bag bottom, or lunch bag. Be sure to check out our tips on sewing with Laminated Cotton. […]

  18. cristina
    August 31, 2011 | 4:10 am

    To sew the laminated cotton I use a special foot, teflon foot and it’s great. My machine is Pfaff and I highly recommed this teflon foot.

  19. Maria
    September 1, 2011 | 8:46 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this fabulous information!
    Have been wanting to make an outdoor table cloth and didn’t know anything about laminated cotton … love the drape and the beautiful designs you have shown here in your examples! Think I will give laminated cotton a try! 😉

  20. […] iron on the laminated side of the fabric. I found a few sites to help….Sis Boom, Amy Butler, and Pink Chalk Studio were my favorite references.  Since each site gave slightly different information I figured I […]

  21. Anna
    September 27, 2011 | 11:13 pm

    Great to hear that the designers also find their way into laminated cotton. Finaly there is more choise than the kids pattern that are available over here (holland). Don’t know if any of you thought about it, but I use the laminated cotton on the inside of diaperbags, etc.

  22. Joyce Quist
    September 28, 2011 | 4:38 am

    Great tips for working with the laminated cotton! Thank you!!

  23. Susan Griffin
    September 28, 2011 | 9:28 pm

    Thank YOu for taking the time to share all these findings. You just saved me oddles of time. I do love the fresh look of these cottons!

  24. Laurette Chandler
    October 13, 2011 | 8:54 pm

    Loved it, super helpful,I was always afraid to sew with it now I can’t wait to give it a try.

  25. Rachael Rabbit
    October 16, 2011 | 5:26 pm

    I have only just discovered the joys of laminated cotton (how behind the times am I?) – but I wonder if it ok for me to post these sewing tips on my blog – they were very helpful.

  26. Tina
    November 15, 2011 | 5:52 pm

    This is invaluable. I also think that using a slightly longer stitch length than usual helps prevent perforation.

  27. Brandy M.
    November 22, 2011 | 7:31 pm

    I saw a BEAUTIFUL “rain coat” made with a laminated Amy Butler fabric. It was to die for!!!

    Thank you for this review – it’s SUPER!

  28. […] Pink Chalk Studio had a helpful list of tips on how to work with cotton laminate fabric. The stickiness of the fabric was a bit annoying to work with at times, but the end result is worth it. The aprons can just be wiped clean! Share this:FacebookPinterestGoogle +1LinkedInTwitterStumbleUponEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. ▶ No Responses /* 0) { jQuery('#comments').show('', change_location()); jQuery('#showcomments a .closed').css('display', 'none'); jQuery('#showcomments a .open').css('display', 'inline'); return true; } else { jQuery('#comments').hide(''); jQuery('#showcomments a .closed').css('display', 'inline'); jQuery('#showcomments a .open').css('display', 'none'); return false; } } jQuery('#showcomments a').click(function(){ if(jQuery('#comments').css('display') == 'none') { self.location.href = '#comments'; check_location(); } else { check_location('hide'); } }); function change_location() { self.location.href = '#comments'; } }); /* ]]> */ […]

  29. Working with Laminated Fabrics « Devious Owl
    February 14, 2013 | 6:28 pm

    […] Mack (a friend of Amy Butler’s) has a great blog post containing tips on working with laminated fabrics. Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  30. […] No special feet, no tissue paper, no masking tape. You can see what Kathy @ Pink Chalk wrote about laminates here for more info. You will need: 1/2 yard laminate cotton 2 packages of pre-made double fold bias […]

  31. sewing tips |
    January 25, 2014 | 1:13 pm
  32. […] a helpful post at Pink Chalk Studio about sewing with laminated cotton, and Debbie at A Quilter’s Table has […]

  33. […] Looking for more information on Laminated Cotton? There is a great post with tips and tricks – as well as the difference between laminated cotton & oilcloth found HERE. […]