How to Sew with Vinyl
Sewing with vinyl can be a little intimidating, but trust us, it is actually super easy and quite a lot of fun! Set your worry aside, it is a great product to work with. By learning how to sew with vinyl, you will expand your sewing options. There are a few tips and details that will help you make a smooth transition into working with this versatile sewing material!
Easy Steps to Learn How to Sew with Vinyl
Step 1: Where to Buy Vinyl
We carry Quilter’s Vinyl in 12 Gauge. This is the most common sewing vinyl size, and it is great for bag making and sewing projects. If you are looking for more options, JoAnn Fabrics sells vinyl in many different colors and weights. Here, it is measured by the yard and has a width of 54". Another option is to use the packaging from store bought bedding. It can be cut and sewn just as easily as new vinyl. We love this recycling option! Just make sure it is the right weight you need for your project.
Step 2: What Does Vinyl Gauge Mean?
Vinyl is sold by gauge. The lower the number, the less rigid and more flexible the material is. It is important to match the appropriate vinyl gauge with the type of project you are making. Here is a general summary of what you can make with different gauged vinyl:
6 GAUGE is very flexible and excellent for lightweight projects. It will work well for table coverings, cloths & splat mats.
12 GAUGE is much sturdier and more perfect for small bags including cosmetic, jewelry & office supply pouches.
20 GAUGE is quite heavy duty and will do the trick for large totes and bags.
After deciding on vinyl, store it rolled up to reduce creases and wrinkles. Do worry if it is a little creased. Using a hairdryer on a low setting will help smooth out any wrinkles and you will be good to go!
Step 3: Select the Right Sewing Machine Needle for Vinyl
We like a sharp 14/90 needle for general sewing purposes. This is the sized needle we use to sew the Travel Jewelry Organizer Pouch Pattern. If you will making projects that have lots of layers and are thick - like purses & bags - switch out to a leather sewing needle – 18/100 in size. If your needle is struggling to go through all the layers, then definitely swap it out for a larger needle.
Step 4: Preparing Your Vinyl Sewing Project
Two important tips here. First - you will need to use binding clips rather than pins to hold your work in place. Binding clips are a great option. Since their introduction primarily for seam binding on quilts, they have been adopted by crafters, beaders, scrapbookers, card makers and every craft where a third hand is needed to hold something down, together or in place. Pins will leave holes in the vinyl, so it is important to use a binding clips to secure sewing parts.
Second - all pressing of fabric must be done BEFORE adding vinyl. As it is plastic, an iron will melt it and ruin both your project, your workspace and may hurt the iron. While this may seem scary, do not fear. Just remember to keep this in mind and it will be fine.
Step 5: Dealing with the Vinyl Sticking While Sewing
We have tried and true solutions for a sticky situation! There are several options for your project to go smoothly. (We just could not help our puns here).
Option 1: Sew with tissue paper along the bottom of the vinyl. This will keep your feed-dogs from sticking to the vinyl. You can sew directly through the tissue and then rip it off when finished.
Option 2: Use a Teflon Presser Foot. Yes! There is such a thing. The Teflon Presser Foot is usually not a standard presser foot that comes with your machine, but every sewing machine has this option. It can easily be purchased from your local machine shop or online. Below is an example of what one looks like. You can see it is made of Teflon and is designed to allow the vinyl to pass smoothly under the presser foot.
Option 3: Use a Roller Presser Foot. Who knew that there were so many different options!?! This foot also works great for vinyl sewing. Here is a picture of the Roller Presser Foot option below.
Option 4: If you do not want to invest in a new presser foot, we have a simple and low-cost solution. Just add scotch tape to the bottom of your presser foot. This handy trick reduces the friction of the metal presser foot as the vinyl is fed through.
All sewing machines are different. These handy options work well alone or in combination. Find the trick that works best for you.
Step 6: Sewing Projects with Vinyl
There are so many fun sewing projects that use vinyl! We stock the Travel Jewelry Organizer Pouch Pattern in our shop. It is an advanced beginner project and a handy organizer.
We also love to make zipper bags with vinyl pockets like this Inside Outside Pouch by Aneela Hoey.
And of course, this Flip Pocket Folio Pattern - also by Aneela Hoey - is just perfect for keeping sewing supplies organized!
Vinyl is not tricky to work with once you have a few easy tips to help get you started. We wish you lots of fun while you try-out this sewing option!