What is Waterproof Oxford? It's a woven 100% polyester oxford fabric. It's finished with a durable water repellent and then laminated with a thin black polyurethane coating on the back. It means it's waterproof on both sides and has crazy strong durability. It comes nice & wide too - 58-60 inches - so a single yard can make loads of things.
What can you make with it? Just about any project where you want a fabric that's super durable and easy to clean. Diaper bags, wet bags, tote bags, purses, and carry cases. You can even use it for things like luggage, seat covers, dog beds, picnic blankets - anything you want to keep dry. It's also good for lunch bags when paired with food safe Eco-PUL. And the prints it comes in are beyond cute (as you will see). The fabric isn't really suited for fashion sewing, but there are loads of other ways to use it.
I made this "wipe & work" pocketed garden tote:
A drawstring storage bag:
Some purse-sized zip pouches:
Heck, I even went all out and made a full size backpack:
Some great features about Waterproof Oxford:
- No pre-washing. This is a wipe clean fabric so you can start sewing right away. I love low maintenance material.
- Lining not required. Since this fabric has a built-in solid color backing, it's dual sided. A big time & materials saver.
- No stretch. Although it's a woven, waterproof oxford doesn't have the usual weft give, so you don't really have to worry about cutting with the straight grain. Loads more options for pattern placement and less wasted fabric.
- Ideal weight. The fabric is medium weight in feel, yet is fairly thin and easy to sew. It's got a strength that performs like a heavy weight, but without all the thickness that makes sewing layers a challenge.
- Holds shape well. The polyurethane backing gives the fabric some extra body, so it doesn't have the extreme floppiness you find with other wovens.
How to sew with it: Sewing with waterproof oxford is pretty simple. A heavy duty needle and polyester thread is all you need. I tried sewing with both a standard foot and a walking foot. The walking foot made layers less likely to slip around curves, but there was none of the sticking you tend to get with other laminated fabrics, so using a basic foot is totally fine too.
Handling Tips: It's helpful to use clips rather than pins, since those will leave holes (unless you pin in the seam allowance where they won't show). Also, like most laminated fabrics, to remove folds or creases, use a low heat setting when ironing.
Finishing tips: Thanks to the polyurethane backing, this fabric won't fray as much as standard wovens, so hemming or encasing seams isn't as critical. I found cutting the raw edge with pinking shears worked great.
Another option for exposed edges is to use binding elastic or FOE (fold over elastic).
I tried both and had great results for a smooth and simple detail.
The fabric's inherent strength also means installing things like snaps and grommets doesn't really require extra stabilizer or the muscles of a bodybuilder to put in yourself. My grommets went through 2 layers of fabric only and after weeks of kids pulling on them, they still look great.
As I was working with it on my first few projects, I realized waterproof oxford was ideal as a backpack material, so for my next project I designed my own backpack using just the waterproof oxford and some elastic binding:
With the fabric's durable hand, and this cool galaxy print, it looks and feels just like a high end store-bought version. Except I designed and made it myself for a fraction of the price! I'm working on offering my backpack as a PDF pattern, so stay tuned for that too.
Since I still have quite a bit of fabric left from my project testing, I've decided to share the fabric love!
I'm giving away a fat quarter of each of these Waterproof Oxford fabrics to one Sew Can Do reader:
And I'll be sharing a few tutorials of some of the above projects (and hopefully create a PDF pattern for my backpack)
in the coming weeks too:)
I was not financially compensated for this post. I received waterproof oxford fabric from Diaper Sewing Supplis to test sew and was not required to review or promote this fabric or their shop. The opinions are completely my own, based on my experience. For my complete disclosure policy, click here.