How to Sew Vinyl

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Learn how to cut vinyl and how to sew vinyl the easy way. Vinyl is a unique fabric and you can sew it with your home sewing machine.

I used to avoid sewing vinyl if I could. I often chose leather instead! I have always had a small stash of pieces of vinyl yardage that I would use for projects every once in awhile. I used to struggle with sewing vinyl because it’s such a different material than the apparel fabric I usually work with.

Vinyl can’t be treated like any other fabric since it’s not really a traditional fabric. Luckily, I’ve learned a couple of tricks to make it easier to cut and sew.

how to sew vinyl

Do you love to sew? Try one of these sewing projects:

clearn vinyl zipper pouch

How to Sew Vinyl

different kinds of vinyl

What is vinyl fabric?

Vinyl fabric is a man-made material that feels like a flexible plastic. It can stretch slightly, and it comes it lots of different thicknesses, colors, and prints. It can be found at fabric stores and craft stores and used for all sorts of projects.

Some vinyl fabric is perfectly smooth, and some vinyl has a texture. Vinyl can be clear, a solid color, or a print. It can be the same on both sides or it can have a fabric like backing.

vinyl with fabric back

What thickness of vinyl can I sew?

My favorite vinyl fabric to sew is 10 guage. This thickness is strong and sturdy without being to thick or hard to sew. It’s really easy to find at the store or online.

What needle do I use to sew vinyl?

When I sew vinyl that is 10 guage (or the most common vinyl you will be able to buy) I use a universal sewing machine needle size 12/80. I have never had problems sewing vinyl with this needle size. The vinyl might dull your sewing machine needle quicker than fabric so be prepared to change your needle more often.

clear vinyl yardage

Trace the Pattern

To get the right shape for your vinyl, you can trace the pattern onto the vinyl. If you are using clear vinyl you can place the vinyl right over the pattern and trace it using a permanent marker.

If you are using another kind of vinyl you can place the pattern right onto the solid vinyl or onto the fabric backing and trace around it.

draw or trace pattern onto vinyl

Scissors or Rotary Blade

To cut out the vinyl, you can use scissors or a rotary blade. The rotary blade with give you a smoother cut if the edge of the vinyl needs to be seen.

The scissors work just as well as long as you cut slowly and carefully. I only use scissors when all the edges of the vinyl will be within a seam.

cut vinyl with scissors or rotary blade

Use Quilt Clips

It’s important NOT to use pins when sewing vinyl. The pins will create holes in the vinyl that are permanent and cannot be fixed. Use quilt clips instead to keep pieces of vinyl together while you are sewing.

hold vinyl together with quilt clips

Sewing Machine Needle

When sewing vinyl use a universal sewing machine needle in an 80/12 size. There are vinyl sewing machine needles that you can buy, but I’ve never used them. The universal has been great for all my projects.

Remember, this information is for a 10 guage vinyl. If you have a thicker vinyl, you’ll need to research the right size.

how to sew vinyl

Prevent the Vinyl from Sticking to the Sewing Machine Foot

One of the hardest parts of sewing vinyl is that the vinyl gets stuck to the sewing machine foot or doesn’t move through the sewing machine foot smoothly. It can make the pieces shift or the vinyl won’t even move through as you are trying to sew.

There are two different solutions that both work, so you can try both to find your favorite.

Use Clear Tape Under Sewing Machine Foot

Whenever I use vinyl (or leather), I put pieces of clear tape or Scotch tape underneath my sewing machine foot. The sticky side of the tape is facing up and sticking to the bottom of each side of my sewing machine foot. There is a piece of each side of the foot.

The non-sticky side of the tape creates a smooth surface for the vinyl to move against. The vinyl doesn’t stick to the smooth side of the tape.

how to sew vinyl with tape on foot

Use Tissue Paper

Instead of using tape, you can place a piece of tissue paper on top of the vinyl. When you sew the tissue paper will be up against the bottom of the sewing machine foot instead of the vinyl.

The tissue is smooth and won’t get stuck to the sewing machine foot. It will make the vinyl move easily.

sew vinyl with tissue paper on top
how to sew vinyl

How to Sew Vinyl

Yield: Sews Vinyl
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Confident Beginner
Estimated Cost: Free

Learn how to cut vinyl and how to sew vinyl the easy way. Vinyl is a unique fabric and you can sew it with your home sewing machine.

Materials

  • Vinyl

Tools

  • Sewing tools
  • Sewing machine

Instructions

What thickness of vinyl can I sew?

  1. My favorite vinyl fabric to sew is 10 guage. This thickness is strong and sturdy without being to thick or hard to sew. It's really easy to find at the store or online.

Trace the Pattern

  1. To get the right shape for your vinyl, you can trace the pattern onto the vinyl. If you are using clear vinyl you can place the vinyl right over the pattern and trace it using a permanent marker. If you are using another kind of vinyl you can place the pattern right onto the solid vinyl or onto the fabric backing and trace around it.

Scissors or Rotary Blade

  1. To cut out the vinyl, you can use scissors or a rotary blade. The rotary blade with give you a smoother cut if the edge of the vinyl needs to be seen. The scissors work just as well as long as you cut slowly and carefully. I only use scissors when all the edges of the vinyl will be within a seam.

Use Quilt Clips

  1. It's important NOT to use pins when sewing vinyl. The pins will create holes in the vinyl that are permanent and cannot be fixed. Use quilt clips instead to keep pieces of vinyl together while you are sewing.

Sewing Machine Needle

  1. When sewing vinyl use a universal sewing machine needle in an 80/12 size. There are vinyl sewing machine needles that you can buy, but I've never used them. The universal has been great for all my projects. Remember, this information is for a 10 guage vinyl. If you have a thicker vinyl, you'll need to research the right size.

Prevent the Vinyl from Sticking to the Sewing Machine Foot

  1. One of the hardest parts of sewing vinyl is that the vinyl gets stuck to the sewing machine foot or doesn't move through the sewing machine foot smoothly. It can make the pieces shift or the vinyl won't even move through as you are trying to sew. There are two different solutions that both work, so you can try both to find your favorite.

Use Clear Tape Under Sewing Machine Foot

  1. Whenever I use vinyl (or leather), I put pieces of clear tape or Scotch tape underneath my sewing machine foot. The sticky side of the tape is facing up and sticking to the bottom of each side of my sewing machine foot. There is a piece of each side of the foot. The non-sticky side of the tape creates a smooth surface for the vinyl to move against. The vinyl doesn't stick to the smooth side of the tape.

Use Tissue Paper

  1. Instead of using tape, you can place a piece of tissue paper on top of the vinyl. When you sew the tissue paper will be up against the bottom of the sewing machine foot instead of the vinyl. The tissue is smooth and won't get stuck to the sewing machine foot. It will make the vinyl move easily.

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how to sew vinyl

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As far as sewing the vinyl, you can also use a Teflon foot.