Reported by Susan Reidy
I have found the Swiss Army knife of crafting products — Roc-Lon Multi-Purpose Cloth by Rockland Industries.
This has got to be the most versatile cloth-fabric I have ever crafted with. It can do or be just about anything your crafting heart desires. And it can handle nearly every crafty technique you throw at it: painting, stamping, cutting, sewing, stenciling and more.
You can go big and make a wall hanging, a floor mat, a Roman shade, or you can go small and make a soft scrapbook, purse or banner. As Rockland says it is “the optimum cloth for custom design from the most complex interior fine art project to a simple do-it-yourself craft.”
The multi-purpose cloth is a 70%/30% cotton fabric available in 54-inch, 72-inch and 84-inch widths in white and in 84-width in 12 additional colors: silver grey, ivory, pearl, beige, ecru, nutmeg, hazelnut, plum, sage, jade, slate and black.
Rockland says you can use all of these media on the cloth: artist paints, fabric paints, transfer paints, stencil paints, iron-on decals, rub-on decals, machine embroidery and you can even run it through your ink jet printer. You can it with regular scissors, sew it, punch it and fold it. Oh, and it’s double-sided.
Even more important is what it won’t do. It won’t fray when it is cut, it doesn’t need to be primed before painting and it won’t curl.
It has one more feature that I like to call its party trick — it’s blackout cloth, which simply means it blocks light. Test it yourself by smooshing a piece over your face and looking straight at a bright light; you won’t see anything. Your brain will be saying, “That’s not possible, this cloth is white,” but it’s true. Can we say drapes, curtains, shades or maybe just a sleep mask for those who like cave-like sleeping conditions?
The possible uses are numerous, so stick with me here: floor cloths, table runners, placemats, fabric frames, purses, shelf liners, memory quilts, cloth toys, board games, place cards, wall murals, pillows, woven projects…I could go on, but I won’t.
Unfortunately, the Rockland Industries website is currently under construction, so right now you can’t go there for inspiration. However, a quick Google search of “Rock-Lon Multi-Purpose Cloth,” came up with lots of sites with a range of ideas and tutorials.
So after reading more about this rather humble looking cloth, I was a little intimidated. Where to start? I decided the best thing to do was to first test the true range of the cloth.
Up first, cutting, I tried regular scissors, pinking shears, a craft knife, a Crop-A-Dile and two die cutting machines: the old school red Sizzix machine and the QuicKutz Squeeze.
The top cut was made with regular scissors, the middle cut with a craft knife and the bottom cut with pinking shears. Each cut smoothly through the cloth, leaving no fraying as promised. I did have some issues with the Crop-A-Dile. You can see it didn’t cut all the way through, leaving the cloth connected in two tiny spots. I used my scissors to snip those spots, which did result in some lose threads. This wouldn’t be a problem if you were punching a hole to then set an eyelet.
Here’s an up close shot of the holes I punched:
The Squeeze had some trouble getting all through both layers of the cloth. I chose a simple circle shape, and gave it a couple of squeezes. I still couldn’t get the shape to completely separate. I just don’t think the dies are deep enough to handle the thickness of the cloth.
But the trusty Sizzix, with a standard die, chomped right through with no problem, as you can see with the tag I cut. I’ll definitely be making more of those to add to gifts.
Next up was coloring. Here I tried out some Micron pens, Copic markers, Prismacolor colored pencils, Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils, Glimmer Mist, StazOn Ink, Stampin’ Up ink and good old acrylic craft paint.
Both types of colored pencils worked well, and could even be shaded. I found the Koh-I-Noor had better coverage, but then I think they do on most mediums.
The Copics bled. This is Ok if you’re looking for overall coverage (but it will drain your marker of ink quickly), but not so good if you’re looking to color in a stamped image.
Glimmer Mist covered nicely and evenly, avoiding the spotting that sometimes happens on paper, and it maintained its nice shine. However, I tried a reverse stenciling technique and that didn’t work so well because the mist bled under my stencil. But for overall coverage, it looked great.
Stamping inks also bled a little, but no more than you would expect on any type of fabric or cloth.
Here it tried acrylic paint with no textile medium on the left and with textile medium on the right. The textile medium made for an easier, smoother application, and ensures the painted cloth will remain flexible once it dries. Overall, I had the most fun applying the paint, plus it dried quickly and evenly.
I also dug deep in my crafting supplies for some foam stamps that were all the rage years ago. Those worked great as well, and I’m so glad to have found a use for them (finally!).
Next up, I tried some embellishing. I used Martha Stewart’s glittering glue and her glitter to add this jazzy red line. I loved the way this worked, and the finished look. The cloth maintained its flexibility and really grabbed onto the glitter. The rub-on went on smoothly, just like it would on paper. There were a few creases, but it held up even after I bent the cloth a few times to test the durability.
As for adhesives, I liked the hold of Fabric-Tac and Tacky Glue the best. I used these to attach ribbon, rick rack, flowers and buttons on the cloth; I haven’t had anything pop off yet.
So armed with the knowledge of what this cloth could do, I started into my projects. First up was a summer banner:
I cut out my triangles from the cloth and misted them with two colors of Glimmer Mist. Here’s where my reverse stenciling didn’t work; the mist bled too much, so my letters weren’t clear. No problem, I decided to outline and fill them in with some Stickles, which held onto the cloth just as easily as the Martha Stewart loose glitter.
Rick rack, flowers and buttons were added with a combination of Fabric-Tac and Tacky Glue. I punched my holes with a Crop-A-Dile and set eyelets on either side before stringing it together with ribbon.
I liked the heft of the cloth, which lets the banner lay nice and flat against the wall. When I’ve made banners out of paper, I usually have had to cut one layer from patterned paper and another from chipboard to give it enough weight to hang nicely. Using the multi-purpose cloth saved me a step, and handled the overall misting much better than paper would have.
Another cool feature is that the cloth is double sided. None of the mist bled through to the other side, so I could craft another banner on the other side. I can see all types of possibilities in making double-sided seasonal items, say fall/winter and spring/summer wall hangings or banners.
I really wanted to try a serious piece of home decor with this cloth, but I’m not a decorative painter, so a wall mural was out. I thought and thought, and then caught site of my kitchen chairs.
Just a warning, this next photo is dirty:
Good grief! When did that happen? Two children ago, I guess. Clearly my next project would be recovering those chairs. With said children, plus another just beginning solid foods, I knew white cloth wouldn’t be a wise choice. I headed to the craft store (aka: my basement) and picked out some acrylic craft paint to match my kitchen.
Dear hubby took the chair apart and helped me measure and cut the right size of cloth. I did opt to mix the paint with the textile medium since the finished cloth would have to be wrapped around the chair seat.
I painted the whole piece this lovely beige color, waited for it to dry and then taped off some stripes with painter’s tape.
Again, I really liked painting the cloth. It went on so smoothly and dried great. The painter’s tape didn’t take off any color when I ripped it off. I did get some bleeding as you can see in the photo below, but that had more to do with the my cheap dollar store painter’s tape than the cloth itself. The rough edges give it a nice handpainted look, at least that’s my story.
After the paint was dry, I added a few coats of a clear acrylic sealant to protect the surface. The cloth can’t be machine washed (not that I could once it’s on the chair), but it can be spot cleaned. Hopefully the sealant will help maintain the freshness.
And here is the finished chair. A big improvement I think. There was even a scuffle over who would get to sit on the “new chair” first. It was easy to manipulate the cloth around the seat, but you do have to be generous with the staples. The multi-purpose cloth was a little thicker than the fabric that was originally on the chair.
My last project is a growth chart for my littlest one, at least that’s what it will be eventually. I enlisted the help of the two older girls to do some more foam stamping. They had fun, and I eventually let go of my need for perfection (ha!). I plan on adding a ribbon for the ruler part of the chart, and some extra embellishments here and there.
I had lots of fun with this cloth, and I have lots more projects in mind. I’d love to make a soft scrapbook, a floor mat with handprints from all my girls, a checker board and maybe even give it the old-college try on some Roman shades (my husband likes cave-like sleeping conditions). I’d also like to try sewing it, maybe into a fun summer tote bag. There’s just not enough time in the day.
- Very versatile for crafts and home decor items small and large, simple and complex.
- It can handle several types of crafting techniques — stamping, stencilling, painting, sewing, die cutting and even inkjet printing.
- It doesn’t need to be primed, it won’t warp or fray.
- Available in wide widths and multiple colors.
- It will black out light, making it perfect for window coverings.
- It can be difficult to find.
- It’s kind of pricey at about $19 per yard, but it’s worth it for the versatility and quality of the cloth.
- Some inks will bleed including mists, stamping inks and Copic markers.
- It can’t be machine washed, but you can spot clean it with a soft cloth or colorless kitchen cleaner.
Have you tried Roc-Lon Multi-Purpose Cloth? What have you made, and what would you like to make with it?
Roc-Lon is generously giving away a 24″x36″ piece of their Multi-Purpose Cloth to FIVE of our readers. Leave us a comment on either Vendor Spotlight: Roc-Lon article (this is 2 of 2) and tell us what you’d do with it if you win! One comment per person, per article, please. Winners will be randomly selected over the weekend, or therebouts.