Sewing with vinyl is super easy and so much fun! I was initially intimidated with this material, but after setting this worry aside, I have found it a great product to work with and has really expanded my sewing options. There are a few tips and details that will help you make a smooth transition into working with vinyl.
#1 Where to Buy
I purchase my clear vinyl at JOANN FABRICS. It is measured by the yard and has a width of 54". There are many other size and options through online fabric shops. Also, the packaging from store bought bedding works great! It can be cut sewn just as easily as new vinyl. Just make sure it is the right weight you need for your project.
#2 What's the Difference?
Vinyl is sold by gauge. The lower the number, the less rigid and more flexible the material is. Here's 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 more sturdy and 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, whatever you do - DO NOT FOLD IT. It will crease and wrinkle. Vinyl must be rolled or stored flat to protect it.
#3 Sewing Machine Needle
I use a universal 14/90 needle when I make jewelry pouches. If I am making projects that have lots of layers and are thick - like purses & bags - I will switch out to a leather sewing needle. If your needle is struggling to go through all the layers, then I would definitely swap it out for a larger needle.
#4 Preparing Your Project
Two important tips here. First - you will need to use binding clips rather than pins to hold your work in place. CLOVER WONDER CLIPS are a great option. Pins will leave holes in the vinyl. 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 and your work space.
#5 Dealing with Sticking
If you find your vinyl is sticking while you're using your sewing machine, there are a few options to help. First, 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. If you're still running into sticking issues, add scotch tape to the bottom of your presser foot. As everyone's sewing machine is just a little different, find the trick that works best for you.
There are so many fun projects that use vinyl. It is not tricky to work with once you have a few easy tips to help get you started. I have a TRAVEL JEWELRY ORGANIZER POUCH PATTERN that uses vinyl. I hope you check it out!