Oilcloth, which also goes by enameled cloth or American cloth in foreign countries, is a tightly woven cotton or linen material with an oil coating. Oilcloth was widely popular because of its waterproof qualities and also because of its flexibility, two qualities that were often not found together in fabric. Although oilcloth is still available for sale, there is another way to waterproof tents and clothing that can be made from the comfort of your home following these steps:
- Melt ½ pound of beeswax at around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch the temperature closely so the wax does not overheat and become unusable.
- Once completely melted, remove it from heat and add 4 oz of mineral spirits and 4 oz of boiled linseed oil. Mix thoroughly and continue to mix as the wax cools to avoid these ingredients from separating.
- Once it has cooled and set, place it in jars with lids to prevent it from drying out.
- When you’re ready to apply it to cloth or leather, warm the material first so the waterproof substance can penetrate the surface.
- Using a cloth, dab the waterproofing substance onto the material, coating all areas including the seams.
- Let it dry to penetrate the layers of the fabric.
Before coating an entire piece of clothing, be sure to test the waterproofing substance on a small piece of fabric to see if it affects the color first.