Sewing Waterproof Fabric: A Basic Step-by-Step Guide

Have You Ever Wondered How to Sew Waterproof Fabric?

There are many uses for waterproof fabric ranging from outdoor furniture, tents, and awnings to sports clothing. Waterproof items are, however, only as good as the type of seam that is used when making them. If the seams on something leak it will be small consolation to know it is designed from a waterproof fabric. Waterproof fabric that will face constant exposure to outdoor weather should be sewn with a flat-felled seam and ultra-violet protected thread.

The following step-by-step sewing details apply whether the item being sewn is a garment or any type of waterproof outdoor item.

sewing waterproof fabricSupplies Needed:

  • Waterproof fabric like Gore-tex that has been cut according to the pattern dimensions (It is up to the user to select the pattern because there are so many different things made from waterproof fabric.)
  • Ultra-violet protected thread (Thread often decays faster than waterproof fabric so this will make the item last longer.)
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Iron (optional)
  • Straight pins (optional)

sewing waterproof fabric

Steps for Sewing Waterproof Fabric:

  1. Put the ultra-violet protected thread on the sewing machine and set the machine on a medium length straight stitch.
  2. Put the wrong sides of the waterproof fabric pieces together. This is the opposite of what you would do for a standard seam.
  3. Sew the fabric using a 5/8 inch seam allowance. Do this by sewing 5/8 inch in from the raw edge of the fabric.
  4. Spread the seam open and cut off the raw edge by placing the thin tip of the scissors 1/4 inch away from the seam line on one side. It does not matter which raw edge you cut off but right-handed people will find it easier to do step 5 if they cut off the right edge and left-handed people will find it easier to cut off the left edge.
  5. Wrap the longer side of the seam around the shorter side. Place the raw edge right against the seam line and either iron the fabric down or pin it with the straight pins.
  6. Sew 1/8 inch from the folded edge of the seam. The seam will resemble the seam on jeans when you finish this step. If you are sewing on a heavy waterproof fabric like canvas you are done. If you are sewing a light finely woven fabric go on to step 7.
  7. Sew 1/8 inch from the original seam line. This will give extra durability to the seam on a light fabric.

These basic guidelines will create a tight, leak-proof seam on most waterproof fabrics because flat felled seams should not leak. If extra waterproofing is preferred a stick or tube of waterproofing can be purchased almost anywhere that sells camping equipment or sewing supplies.

sewing waterproof fabric

Have you made anything with waterproof fabric?  Please share your experience and even some pics in the comments below!

For more information on sewing flat felled seams, please check out this tutorial:

How, where and why to sew a Flat Felled Seam finish. One way to hide your raw edges.

Flat felled seams


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8 Responses to Sewing Waterproof Fabric: A Basic Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Glenda says:

    On a picnic blanket should the shiny side be on the outside?

  2. Shirley says:

    The word “waterproof”, does this mean that the fabric is plastic coated like, PUL fabrics?

  3. Marian says:

    The best way to waterproof is to use a seam-sealer tape that is ironed on over the seams. Pins should not be used because they leave holes in the fabric – use bulldog clips or make sure the pins are within the seam allowance and will be covered by the seam-sealer.

  4. Aimee Aimee says:

    Thank you for a great explanation. I was looking online for a similar idea and really appreciate it

  5. Pat Taylor says:

    Where does one purchase ultra violet protected thread?

    • Gail Hafey says: has Coats and Clark UV thread in many colors, I have purchased outdoor thread at Joann fabrics but am not sure if it was specified as UV resistant.

What do you think?