DIY Oilcloth Aprons: How to Waterproof Cotton Canvas

I don’t know if you follow the Rhodes on Youtube or not (if you don’t, you should), but I have always wanted one of his aprons.

We live so far away, that it isn’t really worth the shipping to get one from the USA, so I started looking in to making oilcloth at home. It turns out waterproofing canvas is not difficult once you know how.

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This recipe uses natural ingredients to create a waterproof coating on the fabric of choice. You can use it to waterproof canvas clothing, shoes, bags, tents, leather, even fabric tarpaulins and wood!

This recipe uses natural ingredients to create a waterproof coating on the fabric of choice. You can use it to waterproof canvas clothing, shoes, bags, tents, leather, even fabric tarpaulins and wood!

Why I love my Natural Oilcloth Apron:

I really love wearing my waterproof, oil cloth apron outside in the garden and on the farm.

  • It protects my clothes from mud and water
  • It is wipeable when doing messy tasks like processing chickens
  • It has POCKETS! I keep my knife, gardening gloves, secateurs and wire weeder all there ready to go.

Pockets is such a big thing for me. Someone decided that women’s clothing doesn’t need pockets and it was a dumb decision. Having a hard wearing apron that both protects my clothes and carries my utilities is SUPER helpful.

How to waterproof cotton canvas at home

There are a few oilcloth waterproofing recipes out and about. This is a very old, traditional method of waterproofing items from well before plastic was a thing.

You can waterproof fabric by simply adding many many layers of boiled linseed oil, allowing it to dry in between coats.

I chose not to follow this waterproofing method because 1) It takes ages for it to dry between coats 2) Nope, that is about it. I am impatient.

DIY Oilcloth Apron: Homemade Canvas Waterproofing

To make my own oilcloth apron, I actually bought this canvas apron. I could have made one, but canvas here is expensive, and it is too heavy duty for my sewing machine. I wanted TOUGH.

Look at how many pockets it has! I love it.

Next I bought all the ingredients to make the oilcloth waterproofing:

Beeswax

 

Boiled Linseed Oil

 

Turpentine

 

And I gathered an old pot, a stirring stick and a paintbrush.

Ideally you would do this outside on a campstove as 1) it stinks and 2) it is flammable.

DIY Oilcloth Aprons: How to Waterproof Cotton Canvas

DIY Oilcloth Aprons: How to Waterproof Cotton Canvas

Make your own homemade canvas waterproofing to use on the homestead

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 1 days
Total Time 1 days 40 minutes
Estimated Cost $50

Materials

  • 8oz Turpentine (200ml)
  • 8oz Boiled linseed (200ml)
  • 1/2 lb beeswax (250g)
  • Canvas apron, bag, sheet or whatever you want to waterproof

Tools

  • Old pot or coffee can
  • Larger pot
  • Stirring stick
  • Paint brush (it will get ruined)

Instructions

  1. In your old pot place the small pieces of beeswax
  2. Over a medium heat place the larger pot with water in it
  3. Add the coffee can or old pot/bowl so that it floats in the water. As the water boils it will melt the wax while minimizing the risk of the beeswax bursting into flame.
  4. Once the beeswax is melted, slowly add the linseed oil and re-warm until the wax is melted again.
  5. Add the turps and stir well.
  6. Lay out your canvas apron on top of several layers of newspaper
  7. Paint the liquid mixture on to the fabric, using the brush to work the mix into the fabric.
  8. If the mixture in the pot starts to harden, simply reheat on the stove again.
  9. Once the garment is covered, hang it somewhere that is well ventilated for 24 hours or more to let the smell dissipate.

Notes

You can use this mixture to waterproof large sheets of canvas to make non-plastic tarpaulins - simply stretch the fabric out on a wooden frame and paint it with 1-2 two coats of the mixture.

The mixture can be stored at room temperature and you can use it as a solid by working it in to the fabric with another rag or a shoe brush.

This recipe uses natural ingredients to create a waterproof coating on the fabric of choice. You can use it to waterproof canvas clothing, shoes, bags, tents, leather, even fabric tarpaulins and wood!

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