Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sewing With Vinyl

This post was originally written as part of a series of posts for The Nosy Pepper Better Bag Making Series.  Go to her blog to check out all of the posts for tons of great bag making tips!

Hi there!  I'm Jenny, from Sincerely, Jen, and we're going to talk about vinyl today!  I was honored when Cyndi asked me if I'd be willing to write a post on sewing with vinyl.  I've been sewing bags with vinyl for a few years now.  Usually they just have vinyl accents (typically per the instructions of my #1 favorite, Swoon Patterns.)  When I was asked to do this blog post, I figured I better make an all vinyl bag so I could at least feel qualified ;)

This is the Blanche Barrel Bag.  Pattern by Swoon Sewing Patterns.


Since sewing with vinyl is always surrounded with so many questions, lets do this in a Q & A format!  I posted on Instagram a few days ago asking for questions about vinyl and everybody was so helpful!  Now I'll try my best to answer the most important questions to the best of my ability.  My way may not be the "right" way, but it is what works for me!

First things first, what is the best vinyl to purchase for sewing bags?

When I'm shopping for vinyl, I usually like to buy it in person so I can see what I'm getting.  You want an upholstery vinyl, so it is heavy enough to hold up in bag making, and it doesn't have much, if any, stretch to it.  I have a local shop where I buy a lot of my vinyl, unfortunatly they are not online.

This is the type of flannel backing you are looking for.
However, I buy my most favorite vinyl at JoAnn's, and you can find it here - this vinyl has a flannel backing, which is what you want to look for.  I find that most marine vinyls are too thick and stiff for bag making - my only exception to this is glitter vinyl, of which I prefer the marine vinyl variety (I buy that from Fabric.com).  In my experience, with vinyl, you get what you pay for!!  I love looking for a good deal as much as the next guy, but don't scrimp on your vinyl!
You DO NOT want this!! The backing seems
like a quilt batting and the vinyl feels like thin plastic.























What sewing machine do you use?

My main squeeze is my Juki DDL-8700.  It is an industrial machine and she is a beast!  I go through several layers of vinyl on this machine and have no problems at all!!!  (Just look at all those layers!)















For years, I sewed all my bags on my Brother PC420.  It is an electronic domestic sewing machine.  I wouldn't dream of sewing an entire vinyl bag on this machine, but I've made several bags with vinyl accents on this machine with no problems! (Especially if you get the Jo'Ann's vinyl I linked above!)


What needles do I use to sew vinyl?

   For my domestic machine, I use Schmetz Size 18 Leather needles.

   For my Juki, I use Organ DB X 1 size 16 needles 


Do you use special feet for sewing vinyl?

The foot I would most recommend for sewing vinyl is a Teflon foot.  It has a non-stick coating on the bottom that helps it to glide across vinyl easier.  There are also roller feet that are useful in this application, however I have not used one before.  With my Juki, I use the regular metal feet with no problems with most vinyls.  Test the foot you want to use on a scrap of your vinyl to see if it sticks before sewing your bag.  If your machine has an adjustable presser foot pressure (say that 5 times fast!) I notice that it is helpful to reduce the pressure on the foot and that helps the vinyl to glide more easily as well. 
These are both Teflon feet (see the white coating on the bottom?)  The one on
the left is for a domestic machine, and the one of the right is for the Juki.
I have also heard many recommendations of using a walking foot to help your vinyl feed more easily and evenly.  This is a walking foot for a domestic home sewing machine.  I'm not even sure if there is one for my Juki (I'd like to know that if there is!)


What kind of thread do you use?

I just use what my machine likes!  With my Brother, I always used Coats and Clark.  My Juki loves Gutermann thread!  If I know what colors I want, I order Mara 100 from Wawak.com.  Most of the time, I just buy Gutermann polyester Sew-All thread from JoAnn's - it is very close to the Mara 100.  If I want a nice thick top-stitching thread, I buy the Gutermann's top-stitching thread they sell at JoAnn's.  

While we're talking about thread, I use a stitch-length of 5 for top-stitching with the heavy top-stitch thread.  If I use the other threads for top-stitching, I use a stitch-length of 4.  For seams, I usually use a length of 2.5. 

Left:  Gutermann 100% Polyester Top-Stitching thread
Center:  Gutermann 100% Polyester All Purpose Thread
Right:  Gutermann 100% Polyester Mara 100


You can't pin vinyl (because the holes will be permanent) so what do you use instead?

Wonder Clips and Tanner's Bond Double Stick Tape are my two favorite things when I can't pin!


I use the double stick tape for things like making handles or piping.  

For handles:  Draw a line down the center of the handle pieces.
Add a line of double stick tape along each side of the line.  Press
well and remove the paper backing.  Fold each long edge in to the
center and press well along the DST.  
With both long edges folded to the center, add one more line of DST
along one of the folded edges, then fold in half again.  Then just top-stitch
along each long edge of the handle at a 1/8" seam allowance.

Wonder clips are best for holding parts together.  Like holding the piping on and holding the ends to the main body.  Just pull them off as you sew!

Not enough time to go into the complete how-to of making vinyl piping in this post,
but if you try it, make sure you clip into the seam allowance so it fits nicely around
the curves!
I also LOVE to use glue sticks with my vinyl!  Just regular glue sticks (this one was left over from the 16 my son needed for Kindergarten last year).  I typically use the glue stick to adhere overlays and handle connectors to the bag.  Cover the entire backside of the overlay, press it in place, let it dry for just a little while, and it stays in place nicely for you to sew!


Do you interface vinyl and can you iron it?
As far as interfacing vinyl is concerned, sometimes you do and sometimes you don't!  I do not add interfacing to handles.  As long as you have chosen a quality vinyl, it will be sturdy enough to hold up for your handles.  If you think it feels a little thin, then go ahead and add a layer of fusible woven interfacing (Shapeflex SF101).  For bag that need to hold their shape, such as the Swoon Blanche that I sewed all in vinyl, you will still want to use the foam interfacing and the stabilizer in the bottom panel.  Basically, you will still interface if it is meant to give the bag shape.  If the interfacing is only intended to make the fabric a more heavy weight, then you can skip it.

I use wonder-under fusible webbing to adhere my foam to by vinyl or fabric when I'm sewing bags.  Never touch the hot iron to the right side of your vinyl, IT WILL MELT!!!  I iron the wonder-under to the vinyl from the wrong side.  Then I place the foam over the wonder-under, place a pressing cloth over the foam, and iron the foam to the vinyl.  I have pressed many different vinyls from the wrong side and haven't melted any yet.  Of course, try a scrap of your vinyl first, to make sure it can hold up to the heat.  

Wow!  That was a lot of information!  I only covered the basics here, and tried to answer all the questions I am asked most often.  I could go on all day with more specifics, but will have to save that for another time.  I hope this is helpful to you and hope that you feel a little more comfortable working with vinyl now! 


1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this post! You're bags are gorgeous and your tips are so helpful. In the link to JoAnn's, I noticed there is no black option. Do you have a preferred black vinyl? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete