It's been on my mind for a while now because my local fabric store has a selection of vinyl, ideally for the local boating industry, but there's no reason I couldn't use it to make some awesome bags. I'd heard that vinyl was difficult to sew with so I've been putting it off until I could assemble the right supplies.
Now there is a project on the work-table that I think you'll love and the pattern for the bag you see above is coming soon. Before you jump right in, here are a few tips and tricks to make sewing with vinyl and faux leathers nice and simple.
Recommended supplies for working with vinyl
Tips for sewing with vinyl
Needles – Firstly, vinyl is thicker than cotton so we need to be mindful of creating too much thickness and too many layers so that the sewing machine might struggle. It's best to use a needle designed for leather or vinyl and I used these Leather Needles from Schmetz. They coped beautifully with the vinyl and went straight through with no issues or skipped stitches.
If you want to learn more about needle sizes and types, here's a detailed post explaining everything you need to know about which sewing machine needle to use along with a free, downloadable needle guide worth $1.95 available for FREE.
Pins – Vinyl is pierced if we use pins and there will be a permanent hole. That's OK if you are only using pins within the seam allowances where these holes will be hidden, but I used Wonder Clips on my vinyl. I use them a lot in bag making because they are good with thick layers too. Even if you don't sew with vinyl, these should be an essential tool in your sewing kit.
Even if using pins within the seam allowance, it's pretty thick so that can be challenging. No wonder clips? Try small binder clips or mini clothespins too. Warning – don't leave clips on your vinyl overnight or long term as they can leave an impression in the spongy material.
Presser feet – The most often heard problem with sewing vinyl is that it can feel ‘sticky' when under pressure from the presser foot and doesn't feed through your machine smoothly. You can eliminate this problem entirely by just sewing on the reverse side where it's usually backed with fabric and will feed through without a problem, if you keep the vinyl away from the machine bed and presser foot. That won't work for this bag coming up because we need to topstitch on the vinyl side so you'll need to consider what presser foot to use.
I bought this Teflon coated foot and was just waiting for the right time to use it, and it was superb. Smooth as butter with no sticky feeling at all. You can also use a roller foot too, although I've not tried that myself.
Don't have either and don't feel like getting one? Then your next best option that should get you through this project is to coat the bottom of your regular presser foot with something to stop the metal coming into contact with the vinyl. Stick a couple of pieces of MATTE sticky tape or painters tape to the bottom and it should work OK – not as well as using the Teflon foot, but I think you'll be fine.
A reader has recently suggested using teflon coated tape, which sounds like a pretty good idea. The tape looks durable and is supposed to give the same sort of non-stick properties that a teflon foot is supposed to provide. I haven't tried it but if anyone out there can give it a try and let us know in the comments below, it would be greatly appreciated.
You can also add some strips of the tape next to the feed dogs on the metal throat plate of the machine too, and this can help the sticky fabric glide through more easily if facing vinyl side down.
I'm excited about sewing with this new material and making bags that look a little bit different. The bag you see above will be on the site on 30th August, and it's another free pattern. Not on the newsletter yet? Sign up now so you don't miss all the free patterns 🙂