top of page

Tips for Sewing with Vinyl

Updated: Mar 31

Tori McElwain with The Quilt Patch by Tori

  • From my "Nancy's Project Bag" Pattern


If you would like to see more sign up for the monthly Newsletter here!

You can find the free pattern here!


I created a pattern for a vinyl Project Bag that I was taught in a class at a sewing retreat! I loved it so much, but the instructor, Nancy, did not have a pattern accessible to me. I made a few notes as I made the bag and although I put in the zipper differently and I personally machine bind my bags, everything seemed to match what she taught!

As I started the project, I decided to do some research on what tips I could find for working with vinyl. Here are the ones I found most useful, plus my tidbits on using a regular sewing machine foot to put in a zipper!

Tips for Working with Vinyl

  • #1 Use a slightly longer stitch to avoid perforating the plastic. I use a 3.0 or 3.5 mm length stitch. This will also help with tension issues as vinyl is thicker than regular fabric. I also used my free motion foot to baste the edges of the bag 1/8 inch from the edge with really wide stitches to avoid any unnecessary holes (I do the same thing with quilts on a longarm sewing machine!).

  • #2 Use Polyester thread. Polyester tends to be thicker; this will help with tension on your machine. It is also made with synthetic fibers, so it will not shrink if washed.

  • #3 Use a fresh needle and your all-purpose scissors/rotary blade.

  • #4 Use clips or paper clips (not pins)to hold the vinyl in place. You want to avoid any and all unnecessary holes.

  • #5 Vinyl likes to stick. Use a specialized Teflon foot or one of the suggestions below:

~You can use scotch tape on the bottom of your pressure foot.

~You could leave a hole for the needle to help.

~You can also put scotch tape on the needle plate (on either side of the feed dogs) to help.

~I use very thin paper when working with larger pieces of vinyl. Such as tissue paper, parchment paper, even newspaper, or even the paper it comes with. I use a piece underneath the vinyl so that it slides over the needle plate and sewing table. If this thin paper gets caught, it tears off easily.

Tips for Using a Standard Foot with a Zipper

A zipper foot is great when you have one. If not, you can use a regular foot with a few precautions.

  • When stitching to the zipper tape, unzip the slider about ½ way down the zipper tape. Then stitch the front strip and the lining in place for 3-4 inches. Zip the leader up and continue stitching.

  • Be very aware of where your zipper teeth are, you do not want to stitch too close or over the plastic. If this happens, the zipper could get stuck in the fabric and the zipper will not be able to zip, or your needle might break (yikes!).

  • Stitch a line at the end of the zipper tape to keep the zipper from coming off/unzipping all the way during construction. Is there anything more frustrating than trying to put a zipper slider back on?? You can see in the second picture below that I made the stitch near the end, but you can do it at any time.

That's it! It's simple really but practice makes perfect. Just be cautious and go for it!

Anything you want to see? Questions or Comments? Click here!


If you would like to see more, sign up for the monthly Newsletter here!

You can find the free pattern here!


150 views0 comments
bottom of page