Friday, January 22, 2016

What the Hell is Oly-Fun Fabric?

Oly-Fun is the fabric many companies use to make reusable grocery bag.  It's extremely lightweight and soft but kind of rigid in a soft way. (I hope that makes sense, best can do.) 

It's a 100% polypropylene, can be washed on gentle, air dried, and will not unravel. 

Since Sandra wanted to see if it would work as a substitute for felt for eyes and such on toys, the experimenting began. 
A couple of circles, small and smaller--easy to draw on the fabric.

It is easy to cut, easier than felt.   I still found it hard to get a nice circle.  I could be that I just really suck at this.  Should have paid attention in grade school art classes. I always sew mine down which covers a multitude of sins anyway.

HOWEVER, the black seems to cut better than the white.  It has a much smoother edge which may not be too obvious here.  Take my word for it.  I just could not bring myself to get out the white chalk to make a full circle.  As my mother used to say of me, "lazier than a pet skunk."

An issue with the white is that it has a level of translucence that may make it unsuitable as a felt substitute.  You can see the lines of my cutting board pretty clearly here.  If you put the white on dark fabric, it makes it look dull and grayish (greyish for you Canadians/Australians).  If you are sewing them down, a double thickness would solve that problem.

See double thickness is opaque.
Now for the cost.  I got a beautiful bird print from Joann's a while back for $2.99 a yard (60 inches wide).  Joann's called it "shopping bag" fabric.  I've never seen it online, but have gotten it several times in the store around the shelved decorator fabrics despite the fact that it is clearly a utility fabric.  It may be there because it comes on a bolt rather than the large rolls used for utility fabrics. Now Joann's is selling this same type of fabric online and in some stores as Oly-Fun fabric in lots of bright colors along with black and white).  Cost comparisons from two places I found it because it's really important! Pay attention!
  • Joann's online or in store:  You can get a 10-yard bolt of 60-inch wide fabric for $29.99 and who doesn't have a 40 or 50 percent off coupon sitting around.   With a 50 percent off coupon, we are talking $15 for 10 yards of 60" fabric or $1.50 a yard.  I know some of the Joann brick and mortar stores are selling Oly-Fun, but I don't know for sure that it is being sold by the yard or just the bolt.  As I said, though, the "shopping bag" fabric was available by the yard, so I'm thinking Oly-Fun will be, too.

  • Walmart has prepackaged Oly-Fun with prices, depending on the color you choose, from $4.73 to $8.97 for 3 yards of 20-inch wide .  My black Oly-Fun was $7.59, and the white one was $8.97. 
         My math sucks, but let me try this.
    • Three yard of black 60" Oly-Fun at Joann's:  $8.97 at full price (don't forget, you get to use a coupon to bring that down 40 or 50% most times) .  To get the same amount from Walmart I would need to buy 3 packages of 20" wide, 3 yard long fabric at $8.97 making it  a whopping $26.91. No coupons for Walmart.
    • Three yards of white 60" Oly-Fun at Joann's at full price:  $8.97 (but remember that 40 or 50% off coupon).  Same amount at Walmart would be three packages at $7.59 making that $22.77.  
The comments under the Joann reviews give you a several ideas for using this fabric for projects  other than shopping bags, but I'll be making bags.  Someday I will be making bag.  Anyone who sews knows how that goes.  So many projects!

Feel free to share any needed math corrections in the comments. 


  1. Thank you, tester extraordinaire! BTW - I assume " You can get a 10-yard bolt of 60-inch wide fabric for $29.99 a yard " actually means you get it for $29.99 a bolt, not a yard ;) I'm not checking your math though - I prefer not to math. Odd as **** that Walmart is so much more expensive than Joanns - even before those delectable coupons are taken into consideration! I can't wait for the Canadian $ to climb out of the DEPTHS OF HELL so I can do a Joanns run - I want to try this stuff out as a replacement for felt for hand and finger puppets. Odd about the white being so thin. Can you press the stuff with an iron? For the tiny bits and pieces I would want to use fusible applique to make it easier to cut out the littlies. I had another question to ask, but my oven beeped a minute ago and I had to run into the kitchen to check my rice, and apparently the question jumped into the oven while I was bent over - I have no idea of what else I wanted to ask. That's OK - I'll just call you @ 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. when it pops into my brain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D (I can't stop looking at the white oly on the cutting board - that shizzle is THIN! LOL!!!)

  2. Funny how Canadians side with Americans for most words, but are with us Aussies for greyish... LOL!!!

    Well, I have sometimes wondered what our shopping bags are made from. Your description is spot on - it is rigid and almost stands up by itself, yet it is so soft and thin. If I didn't have a million things on the To Do list, I'd be rushing out and getting some Oly-Fun. Have just Googled and it is available in Australia. Are you sitting down - it's only $34.99 for 3 yards of 20 inch wide, but with free shipping. If I ever do get around to it, I'll be investigating buying from the U.S. Thanks heaps for this post!