Sewing

Olive Backpack & Dry Oilskin Tips

Here’s my Olive backpack, plus I’m sharing Dry Oilskin tips today! This fabric is one of those colors that shifts depending on the lighting!

Olive Backpack & Dry Oilskin Tips

The exterior fabric is a dry oilskin in Olive (scroll down for all the pattern and fabric links – under the “Project Details” heading). I realized the other day that I hadn’t shared tips on working with oilskin here on the blog, so it’s time to fix that! Below is general info & some tips for working with dry oilskin! Hope you’ll find it helpful!

Olive Backpack & Dry Oilskin Tips

Using Dry Oilskin for Bag Making

I really love using dry oilskin in bag making. 2020 was when I think I first started working with dry oilskin, maybe? If you’ve got any additional helpful info or tips feel free to share them in the comments below!

General Info

  • Dry oilskin has a history of being used in the sailing/fishing industries! It has excellent water repellant qualities.
  • Width: it’s typically 59″ wide, which is great for bags! You might be able to get all the pieces you need out of less yardage – be sure to check the cutting layouts for the project you’re working on
  • Yard for yard it is more expensive than say, a regular cotton canvas. However, usually you can eliminate using interfacing altogether (unless you’re using a very lightweight dry oilskin). I think that’s something that can be overlooked when shopping! It ends up being similar in cost to buying canvas plus interfacing. Plus it’s a huge time saver! Less to cut and less time spent at the ironing board. And remember that the width is typically wider that most cotton canvases, etc.

Interfacing & Substrate Info

  • Interfacing? should I use it? and how? Well, great question! I typically don’t use any interfacing if using the dry oilskin on the exterior of my smaller projects (think smaller totes, accessories, etc). You can use a sew-in interfacing that you’d baste along the edges of your dry oilskin pieces to add some stability. I like to beef up my lining with a little bit stiffer interfacing (or even go with a canvas/fusible woven interfacing combo).
  • Thinking about swapping dry oilskin for other substrates? Yes! In general, if the pattern you’re working with doesn’t suggest dry oilskin as a recommended fabric, you certainly can. Be sure to adjust your lining fabric and/or interfacings accordingly.

Sewing with Dry Oilskin

  • Instead of using an iron, finger press seams! Major time saver — it’s great for center/quarter markings, too, fold and finger press and it’ll leave a crease!
  • Use polyester thread (because I always have a lot of questions on what thread I use, I’ll link it here, it’s Gutermann Mara 100). Cotton thread will deteriorate over time and will not be as strong on some of the more stressed seams.
  • Pin holes will be visible. Instead, pin within the seam allowance or use binder clips.
  • Spot clean only. Because dry oilskin holds up really well to spills and stains, use a damp cloth for a quick clearn up!
  • Dry oilskin is much more flexible than waxed canvas, and typically a light pass with a dry iron will remove any crease markings used during the bag making process. Be sure to test a scrap if you’re uncertain.

New to you?

I think that’s most of it! When I’m trying a new substrate I follow a few simple tips to take the pressure off:

  • buy a half yard, it’s not going to be too expensive, but it’ll be enough to make a project with. If you end up not liking it, there’s not a lot to lose.
  • Start by making a project you’re familiar with. I love making a zippered pouch or simple tote bag – they’re always great for gifts, plus it’ll give you a good feel for what the new substrate is like to work with.
Olive Backpack & Dry Oilskin Tips

Project Details:

2 thoughts on “Olive Backpack & Dry Oilskin Tips

  1. Jennifer says:

    Would dry oilskin take fabric paint for block printing a design on it do you think? Ironing to heat set the paint?

    1. Anna Graham says:

      Hi Jennifer! Gosh, that sounds fun! I’m not sure if it would adhere permanently or not (or if the emulsified wax would resist it). I don’t have any block printing ink on hand, maybe give it a try on a small swatch?

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