oilcloth sunscreen roll-up
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Oilcloth Sunscreen Roll-up Tutorial

Oilcloth Sunscreen Roll-Up

oilcloth sunscreen roll-up

Get organized with this oilcloth sunscreen roll-up that stores sunscreen tubes, chapsticks and sanitizers safely and decoratively! As we splash into summer, it’s important to consider where and when we’ll be using the projects we create to make sure they aren’t damaged by water, sand and sun. Fabric choice is important: oilcloth, laminated cotton and other coated textiles are often good choices for water-resistance as well as durability.

Sunscreen Roll-up

fold-over flap

This makeup brush tutorial was used to create the sunscreen roll-up, but with a few modifications.

  1. Instead of adding a vinyl layer to the cotton fabric right side, oilcloth fabric was used. Oilcloth is a stiffer fabric that has great water-resistance properties. It’s not difficult to sew and makes great pouches, purses and aprons, too.
  2. Machine embroidery was added to the front flap to personalize the oilcloth sunscreen roll-up for a bit of personalization. When embroidering on a print, choose a design that doesn’t compete too much with the print so the design is easily readable. (The featured design is borderline too busy…but we like it anyway!)
  3. Sulky Stitch ‘n Seal was added to the embroidery wrong side to ensure the water-resistant property of the fabric wasn’t compromised by all the needle penetrations of the embroidery.
  4. Pockets were widened to accommodate sunscreen tubes and various beach essentials.

All About Oilcloth

Sulky Poly Deco is a great choice of thread for oilcloth projects. The thread is nice and strong and comes in a shiny lustrous finish, almost matching the sheen of the oilcloth. Plus, the thread is colorfast, bleachable and can withstand sun, sand and surf.

Choose an Organ® Top Stitch Needle in the size that corresponds to the thread weight. If using Poly Deco, use a size 80/12 needle for best results. A Top Stitch Needle is suitable for both the construction and the embroidery of this oilcloth sunscreen roll-up project.

Don’t pin oilcloth, as pin holes are permanent. Instead, use Clover Wonder Clips to secure pieces before sewing. Keep in mind if you make a mistake and must rip out seams, those seamline needle holes are also permanent! So be sure to sew accurately and slowly to ensure desired results.

Ironing oilcloth is tricky business. It’s recommend to just NOT DO IT. However, setting the iron to the lowest heat setting and pressing over a press cloth is ok in most cases. Test on a scrap fabric, making sure to use a press cloth to avoid damaging the iron, as well as the fabric!), to make sure the settings work for you.

Oilcloth can be stiff, so be sure to not choose a pattern that has small tubes to turn or crisp corners to achieve. These two things will not be fun to create with oilcloth!

If the presser foot sticks to the oilcloth during sewing, try a Teflon foot. Or, place strips of Sulky Tear-Easy™ along the seamline and stitch over it. Once stitching is complete, simply tear away the paper to reveal no trace of it after sewing.

Embroidering Oilcloth

beginning the embroidery

Don’t hoop oilcloth. The fabric will be marred by the hooping process and may even be too stiff for the hoop to handle. Instead, use “hoopless” embroidery techniques.

Hoop Sulky Sticky+™ in the hoop with the paper side facing up. Use the Sulky Sticky+™ Slitting Pen to score the paper within the inner hoop ring. Then remove the paper backing to reveal the adhesive.

Center the fabric piece in the hoop as needed for desired design placement. Embroider the design, clipping jump threads with each thread change. (Featured design is from the Mendhika Alphabet collection by Urban Threads.)

embroidery in progress on splashy sewing project

Outline-style designs work better than heavy stitch fill designs on oilcloth. Designs with heavy fills could cause the fabric to buckle, as there is no “room” in the fabric fibers to accommodate the addition of so many thread passes.

embroidery detail

When embroidery is complete, tear away the excess stabilizer beyond the design edges. It’s ok to leave small bits of stabilizer within design sections since the oilcloth is so stable and heavyweight.

embroidery wrong side

Sealing Oilcloth Stitching

Protect the finished project by adding a layer of Sulky Stitch ‘n Seal™ to the embroidery wrong side. Stitch ‘n Seal seals the needle holes caused by the embroidery, keeping the water-resistant property of the fabric intact.

stitch n seal in package

This is a fusible stabilizer, so must be applied with heat to the oilcloth wrong side. Take care in doing so, using a press cloth and setting the iron to the lowest setting. Otherwise, the fabric will melt and the shine will buff out, leaving a dull spot on the right side.

fusing stitch n seal

Either use a piece that’s larger than the design, as pictured, or a design that’s the exact size of the design. The stabilizer will extend the life of the project and embroidery by also sealing any errant thread tails on the wrong side.

stitch n seal on wrong side

Oilcloth Sunscreen Roll-Up Ties

Choose grosgrain ribbon for the ties, or purchase a matching laminated cotton to continue the water-resistant “theme.” Oilcloth will not make good fabric tubes, as it’s too difficult to turn right side out. However, you could make self ties by folding oilcloth strips in half lengthwise with wrong sides together and stitching both long edges. The raw edge won’t fray.

splashy sewing project embroidery

Remember to secure the ties using Wonder Clips in lieu of pins before stitching.

fold-over flap


Line up the items you intend to store in the sunscreen roll-up to ensure the pockets are large enough to hold them. This pouch has a couple of wider pockets for sunscreen sprays and a few smaller ones for Chapstick and a sanitizer pump. Once determined, stitch the pockets using the same Poly Deco Thread used for embroidery and topstitching.

oilcloth on splashy sewing project

Roll up the pouch after filling it with beach essentials! The oilcloth will relax a bit after multiple uses.

sunscreen roll-up

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I am the Director of Content for Sulky of America. The former Editor in Chief of Sew News and Creative Machine Embroidery magazines, I hosted Sew it All TV on PBS for nine seasons. I've appeared on It's Sew Easy on PBS, DIY Network's Uncommon Threads, Hallmark's Marie Osmond Show, MacPhee Workshop and more! Come sew with me!