My dearly departed mother was an oilcloth fanatic, but in her usual way she sought out the most rarified, high-end French oilclothes in glossy white, palest aqua (what Martha Stewart would call "Acuna"), and a fabulous silver number that covered our kitchen table in the eighties. As always, she was ahead of her time.

So when I set out in search of oilcloth to cover our outdoor dining table, I was dismayed by the dismal offerings available locally. Then Janet, my DesignDNA genetic code sharer, forwarded me a link to Lisa Stickley, yet another charming and idiosyncratic London shop (74 Landor Road, SW9 9PH; 0207 737 8067). These heavyweight, handprinted, plasticoated tablecloths are available for 72 pounds; go to www.lisastickleylondon.com to order:

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Cath Kidston, the ever-popular UK purveyor of vintage prints, sells oilcloth by the yard ($34 per); go to www.cathkidston.com

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A. H. Mercantile operates a site called www.ahmercantile.com offering solid-colored and classic gingham-check tablecloths for $14 or $30 (depending on size; they also sell the fabric by the yard); we love the pale blue and the white oilcloth on offer. Mendels Far Out Fabrics, an SF oilcloth mecca (1556 Haight Street; 415-621-1287), carries these lines as well as my mother's metallic silver, by the yard (www.mendels.com):

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Classic Marimekko oilcloths $48 per yard at www.kiitosmarimekko.com:

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