How To Sew Vinyl

Are you planning on a few vinyl projects but don’t know how to sew it properly? Well, you have reached the right place for all the information. 

Vinyl is a material that tends to stump even the most seasoned sewing and DIY experts – let alone the beginners. To start with, vinyl is thicker than your regular material. The texture is completely different from what you usually get with cotton or flannel. To top it off, it does respond well to folding or even pins. 

So, how would you work your way through such tricky material? Read on to know all the answers to this question. 

How To Sew Vinyl?

Sewing vinyl is a lot different than your regular material but it’s not impossible. You can sew vinyl by hand or get an industrial sewing machine for the job.

Start by choosing the right thread and needle. The kind of stitches you put on this material has to be widely spaced and larger.

Remember that vinyl is the kind of material that easily gets perforated through thicker needles or stitches. So, proceed with caution, and get a Teflon or non-stick foot before you start sewing. 

How To Sew Vinyl By Hand? 

The first thing to mention here is that it isn’t a good idea to sew vinyl by hand. It is possible but you might hurt your hand because the material is really thick. But if you are still planning to try it, these steps would be helpful. 

Step 1: Hold A Thimble In Your Finger And Start 

To start with, you need to ensure that you’ve at least one thimble or two between your fingers. It will help in protecting the fingertips while you keep pushing the needle through the fabric. Then, you need to keep the stitches almost ¼ of one inch apart. It’s done to keep the stitches strong and sturdy. 

Step 2: Use Proper Needle And Start Stitching 

After this, you need to focus on making stitches using the right kind of needle. The right type of needle is highly sharp and suitable to be used on heavy, thick fabrics, such as vinyl that are hard to sew. Long stitches will keep holding the vinyl together, and it will look better than the short stitch patterns. 

The best needle you can use is between 16 and 22 (except 19 and 20). However, ensure that the needle stays sharp and its eye has the right size for your thread. Also, you need to utilize a strong needle to go through the seams without any stress. 

Step 3: Cut The Vinyl Using A Sharp Rotary Cutter 

When you cut vinyl, make sure to have your rotary cutter handy in order to achieve the cleanest edge you can get. Of course, keep in mind that the blade has to be really sharp. 

If you are not too keen on sewing so much, it is better to utilize a fabric glue that can hold all the pieces at one place. 

How To Sew Vinyl On A Sewing Machine?

Before you start sewing vinyl using a sewing machine, you need to arrange for a couple of things. So, get these things arranged first, and then, follow the given steps: 

  • A walking foot (a nonstick foot or Teflon foot) 
  • An all-purpose nylon threads 
  • Regular needle for thin vinyl and denim needle for thick vinyl 
  • The stitch length at three and four for regular and top stitching respectively 

Step 1: Start On A Clear And Clean Working Surface 

It is important to ensure that the pattern pieces are safe and free from scratches. So, you cannot work on the kitchen-top with the stove and microwave nearby. Heat will destroy vinyl and a small scratch will grow big before you know it.  

Also, vinyl tends to stick to plastic and metal surfaces. Thus, you will need to put a cotton cloth over the area for easy movement. 

Step 2: Marking The Pattern Using Chalk 

The best thing you can use for making the pattern is chalk. The other option is a Chaco liner pen. In fact, a simple white pen is good to go for making thin, fine lines that you can brush off easily. But under no circumstances should the indelible mark of ball pens go anywhere near vinyl. 

Step 3: Hold The Edges And Start Cutting 

You can’t baste or pin vinyl. So, use small binder clips for holding the edges together. Then, use your rotary cutter for cutting vinyl smoothly. 

Keep in mind that vinyl and plastic are not going to drape and bend like cloth. As such, bending and folding vinyl will damage it. Thus, while sewing thick vinyl, it is better to put a nice fabric over the pattern. It will help you to avoid any bulking up near the seams – more so near fastenings and sewing straps. 

Step 4: Put Double Seam Stitches On Vinyl 

You only need a simple seam for sewing vinyl. Since there is no fraying at the edges of the material, there is no need for any finishing on the edges. So, make double seam stitches while doing simple seams, and that’s it. 

You can’t backstitch right at the ending and beginning of sewing as you do in case of other fabric. It makes the stitching really obvious. What you can do is leave a long tail of thread right at the beginning. Then, take the thread to the material’s back and tie it off there. 

How To Sew Clear Vinyl To Fabric?

Four-gauge vinyl has the right thickness for sewing projects. Now, sewing clear vinyl to fabric is pretty easy if you follow these four simple steps: 

Step 1: Cut The Vinyl With Perfection 

If you’re able to see through the vinyl, use a low tacking tape to hold it on the cutting mat. Now, you can use a rotary cutter and ruler to cut the vinyl. If you’re unable to see through the material, tape it to its paper tissue and use your ruler. 

Also, you can cut the paper to your desired size before tapping the vinyl over it. Think of the paper as your template. 

Step 2: Start Using Clips To Hold The Fabric 

While working on projects that can expose parts of the vinyl, it is better not to use pins for holding down the material because that leaves gaping holes. So, fold the fabric you plan to use and put it on the clean edges of the vinyl, and use the clips. However, you can use pins if the holes don’t show up in the end. 

Step 3: Use The Right Settings On Your Sewing Machine 

Straight stitch your vinyl fabric at nearly 3.0. It is never a good idea to sew clear vinyl on the fabric using really small and close stitches. You’ll perforate the material in this way. 

Also, use a hundred percent polyester or cotton threads for this purpose. Get 8012 universal needles to get a smooth and attractive result. 

Step 4: Feed The Fabric And The Vinyl Gently 

You can use the tissue paper as the buffer at the base of the sewing machine to feed your fabric through easily. But if you can get a Teflon or non-stick foot, you will find it a lot easier to sew clear vinyl over the fabric. However, you will need the buffer in any case. 

How To Sew Vinyl Upholstery?

Your upholstery has to go through a lot of stress on a daily basis and endure a lot of weight. So, the fact that it has to endure so much stress means you need the strongest and toughest possible thread to sew it. If you want to sew vinyl upholstery, given below are the steps you need to follow. 

Step 1: Get The Needle And The Bobbin Ready 

Use a needle of size 21 and get that into the sewing machine to start making the pattern for the upholstery. Also, the best thing you can do is to start with this step so that you don’t forget this after getting your vinyl ready. Additionally, you need to load the bobbin with a matching, strong thread. 

Step 2: Adding The Design And The Piping 

When you try to add designs, ensure that you sew them on the flat parts of your vinyl seat before you start working on the seams. After you are done with the designs, you can sew the piping in its place when you are planning to go with that particular design. 

Step 3: Complete Your Sewing And Staple The Sides 

After you are done with the piping, line up the fabric edges and sew close to the piping. When all your sewing gets completed, put the vinyl over that seat and staple the sides below the wooden frame. 

Ensure that all the sides are tight and smooth. Also, put additional staples at the corners to reinforce the vinyl. Finally, put pretty cushions in place and that’s it! 

How To Sew Vinyl Boat Seats?

When you are sewing a seat, remember that there is the top and the box. Let’s look at each part separately. 

Step 1: Sewing The Top Of Your Boat Seats 

Make the top one inch oversized in all the directions, which leaves a room of ½” on all sides for sewing. Then, sew your cord to that seat’s top. You can either use your walking foot or lots of double-sided tapes to hold your cording on the material and feed both the layers at the same time. Also, remember to use about 4mm stitch size because smaller stitches reduce seam strength. 

Take a side of your cording and get about one inch of stitching removed before cutting the cord out. Then, tuck the other sides of cording and trim them accordingly. Finally, fold the first side over the tucked side, and close it using regular stitches. 

Step 2: Completing The Box Of The Boat Seats 

Leave at least six inches free from where you began sewing to close the box at the end. Go on sewing until there is about eight inches left from the end. As you near the end, sew the seam for closing the box. After you’re done with the seam, complete the top part of the seam. 

Since you’ll be sewing multiple vinyl layers, lower the foot pressure and go slow so as to not mess this up. 

How To Sew Marine Vinyl?

Thickness is the main point of difference between marine vinyl and other types of vinyl. Given below are the steps to sew marine vinyl. 

Step 1: Get The Materials Ready To Start 

Get a needle in any one of these sizes: 16 to 18 and 21, 22. You will have to put long stitches because dense holes will leave rip lines that look like stamp perforation. Also, get double-sided craft tapes for holding the material in place while sewing. Pins tend to leave gaping holes in the thick fabric.  

Step 2: Prepare The Material To Start Sewing 

Put scotch tapes at the bottom of the presser foot to let the foot go smoothly over the vinyl minus catching. Additionally, you need to put the marine vinyl fabric in between two tissue papers for making the fabric glide through the machine. 

Also, if your plan is to use the marine vinyl in the sun, the best you can do is to use the outdoor UV-treated threads. The bonded UV polyester threads are your best bets in this regard. 

Step 3: The Finer Details Of Stitching Marine Vinyl 

Avoid using big needles that leave large holes. Also, remember to tighten the stitch pull, and check the thread spacing. When the stitches are left close to one another, it’ll leave a perforation. So, do the work on a test piece and see how those fares for you.  

Can You Sew Vinyl With A Regular Sewing Machine?

You can opt for a regular sewing machine for sewing vinyl. However, similar to leather, you will need to keep an eye on the material’s thickness. All the top brands of the sewing machines make products that work fine on vinyl. But not all of those products are suitable for residential usage.  

A heavy-duty sewing machine or a sturdy industrial model would get the job done in terms of having the strength to move through really thick vinyl pieces. However, the best models to try are the industrial ones. If you’re sewing vinyl under ¼ or 3/16 of an inch, you can happily go with your regular machine.  

The important thing to have with you is the right needle before starting. Moreover, using regular machines suits the basic vinyl projects but not the highly elaborate ones. The fact is when you try a vinyl project once in a while, purchasing some other sewing machine isn’t worth your money or the trouble. 

Buying a better machine is important if you plan to sew vinyl projects on a daily basis. You’ll need to utilize a good sewing machine because one error can ruin the entire project. Thus, it is important to have the right machine to avoid the errors.  

You can sew clear vinyl using your sewing machine because it has a certain flexibility, though it’s not extra flexible. The main problem is that the material might be thicker than usual and you’ll need to adjust your machine accordingly. The right accessory is a walking foot that you need to utilize while sewing clear vinyl. 

What Size Sewing Machine Needle For Vinyl?

As mentioned earlier, most people aren’t particular regarding the needle size that they use. In general, it is recommended that you use something between 16 and 22, while avoiding 19 and 20. Of course, there has to be the number 100 before the numerals. 

An important detail to keep in mind in this case is that the needle has to be suitable for denim or leather. You might have quite the problem on your shoulders if you use any other type of needle. Needles that are suitable for heavyweight, thick materials don’t break that easily. It can deal with the strain that comes from sewing a fabric like vinyl. 

The length of the stitch should be more than three millimeters and the width of the stitch should be over 2.5 millimeter. If you use anything other than these measurements, there is a high risk of the material getting perforated and torn in a moment. 

Also, do not forget to opt for clips and not pins for the reason why you need to utilize a long stitch length. It’s all about the kind of holes you make in the material and the number of holes you make in it. You need as few holes as possible. 

Wrapping up

And now you know all that there is about sewing vinyl. You know the kind of thread and needle to use, along with the sewing techniques. It is time now to choose your vinyl project and put your newfound knowledge to good use.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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