Lots of people have been asking where I got my oilcloth tablecloth - here are some resources if you want one too! Real oilcloth is a super-practical and easy way to cover your table. You care for it by wiping clean: that's it.
The kind of oilcloth I like most is widely available in the UK but hard to find stateside. It is heavy cotton-linen union fabric that is lightly coated with a layer of plastic, so that the feel and look of the cloth remains intact.
If you've ever bought those noxious (and possibly insalubrious) PVC tablecloths, please try to find real oilcloth, which is coated with a thin layer of vinyl. It has no bad smell and doesn't feel so plastic-y. You won't be able to live without this wonderful stuff.
Stripes from Ian Mankin (UK)
Fun elephant and giraffe print for kids from Cath Kidston
Lovely floral from Just Wipe
Top Dog print from Just Wipe
(or find it at John Lewis)
Classic, refined William Morris Willow Bow print
(from the Curtain Shop)
My very favorite oilcloth comes from Ian Mankin in London. Ian Mankin sends samples very quickly and they ship from the UK, so there is no problem whatsoever if you want to order from the US. You may need two meters to cover a big table, but it is well worth it. This oilcloth has a light, matte coating so it feels and looks much more like natural fabric. It does stain if you are not careful - coffee or red wine should be wiped away immediately - but with just minimal bit of attention you will have a flawless, child-proof table covering for years.
Other wonderful sources for oilcloth are fifties-style goddess Cath Kidston (UK), groovy modern Marimekko (order from Textile Arts in the US), or see a very big range at JustWipe. You can find William Morris prints at the Curtain Shop (UK).
If you are in London, pop into the John Lewis department store for a big selection, or visit the Blue Door Barnes, a shop selling Swedish furnishings, for exquisite pale blue and oatmeal colored linen made into oilcloth. In Paris try Printemps for "la toile cire'".
Now you can relax and enjoy your meal: no tablecloth to wash or iron!