Remember THIS tutorial that I posted a couple of months ago for a cute art roll ... one side a chalk board, the other a dry erase board? Well, I had a bunch of the chalk cloth (aka "chalkboard fabric") left over from that project, and have been working on some new ways to put it to use. So, I thought I would do a post about chalk cloth in a question and answer format in case you wanted to know more about it.
What is chalk cloth?
Chalk cloth is a "utility" fabric that is meant to be used the same way a chalk board is used. You can write on it with chalk, and then erase it. The weight of the chalk cloth that I have been using is a bit heavier than a home decorator weight fabric, and has a slight drape to it. My local JoAnn's carries chalk cloth that is about 28" wide, but I have found it online in larger widths such as 47.5".
Yes, the chalk cloth must be "primed" or "cured" before using it. If you do not prime the chalk cloth first, and write on it with chalk, it will not erase well.
How do you prime chalk cloth?
It is very simple. You take a piece of chalk, place it on it's side, and rub it all over the chalk cloth. First I rub it horizontally, then vertically, and then diagonally. Between each "rub", I wipe off the chalk cloth with a piece of dry paper towel.
Can you clean the chalk cloth with water?
Yes, from my experience you can take a wet cloth and clean the chalk cloth. However, I have found that when you clean it like this, you will need to re-prime it.
Can you wash/dry or iron chalk cloth?
Honestly, I am not sure. The chalk cloth that I bought did not have any care instructions on the bolt end, but I can tell you just from working with it, that I would say "no" and "no". Ironing it would most likely melt the black coating, and washing/drying it would put wrinkles into the fabric that would not come out. (If you have tried ironing,washing or drying this fabric and have been successful, please let me know, and I will update this post).
How do you get the wrinkles or creases out then?
Here my answer -- you don't. I have not found a great way to get the creases out of chalk cloth, but if you store it in such a way where it will not get creased in the first place, then this should not be an issue for you. Here is my tip -- if you buy chalk cloth in person, do not allow the cutting lady to fold it up. She will want to fold it up, but it is much better to roll it up, so as to prevent creases. The chalk cloth at my local JoAnn's is about 28" wide, so what I like to do is to fold it in half just once down the middle so that the finished edges meet. Now you have a piece of fabric that is 14" wide, which is easy to just roll up. Once you get home you can wrap your fabric around a piece of cardboard in the same way that the fabric would be wrapped on the bolt in the store, or you can even use an old wrapping paper cardboard tube to wrap the chalk cloth on.
Is it easy to sew with?
Surprisingly, yes, I have found that sewing with chalk cloth is really not that much different than sewing with a home decorator fabric except that it is a bit stiffer.
What size needle should I use?
Of course this will depend on what you are sewing your chalk cloth to, but for most projects where I have been sewing a quilting weight cotton to the chalk cloth, I have been using a Schmetz Universal sewing machine needle in size 90/14 without any troubles.
Do I need a special sewing machine foot to work with chalk cloth?
From my experience I will say no ... you can get away with using your regular sewing machine foot... I have made several smaller projects using my regular sewing machine foot with no problems at all. However, with larger projects, an even feed walking foot does come in handy (if you have one). The chalk cloth can have a tendency to stick slightly to the bottom of the presser foot when the air is humid, so an even feed foot helps to prevent this by feeding the fabric from the top too. If you have a non-stick presser foot, that may be beneficial as well, however, I do not have one of those so I cannot say for sure. So, all in all, I would say if you don't have an even feed foot, don't worry about it, but if you do have one, get it out and use it.
Where can I find it?
Well if you live in the U.S. and have a JoAnn's locally, you can find chalk cloth hanging out with the utility fabrics. I have not found it at my local Hobby Lobby or Wal-Mart fabric sections, but I am not sure if their inventory varies from location to location. I have found chalk cloth on Amazon HERE, and at other online retailers HERE and HERE.
And ... that's it! I hope you enjoyed my little Q & A session about chalk cloth, if you found this helpful, let me know, and perhaps I will do more posts similar to this about other craft supplies or tools. And if you have more information or tips/tricks on working with this cool fabric, why not post them below?
Hugs, Sara :)