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Sewing with Vinyl

andryea | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I am attempting to make some slipcovers for my dining room chairs out of vinyl. I am wondering if anybody has had any experience working with vinyl that would be willing to share…

-What kind of needle would be best?
-Is there a special foot that I should use to topstitch? (I seem to remember my machine having a difficult time, like it would get stuck, under the presser foot when I did some topstitching on a Halloween costume once.)
-Can I use regular garment thread or should I look for something a littler stronger/heavier?

Thanks for helping.


  1. carolfresia | | #1

    Andryea, oddly enough, I woke up this morning thinking "Threads ought to do an article on sewing with vinyl!" I haven't sewn on vinyl, except a bit of "pleather" like fake leather recently. My suggestion is, if it's straight vinyl with no backing, use a relatively long stitch; too-small stitches will perforate the vinyl a lot and make it more susceptible to tearing at seams. As for topstitching, or any sewing in fact, a Teflon-bottomed foot should make things go a little more smoothly. I think the weight of the thread would depend on the weight of the vinyl, but I don't know for sure. My concern would be that for an unbacked vinyl, the thread's going to be stronger than the vinyl in pretty much any case.

    My experience with the fake leather vinyl, which had a knit backing and some stretch, was that using regular polyester thread and sewing slowly worked just fine. I also used a normal stitch length (2.5mm, probably).


    1. lin327 | | #2

      I've sewn with garment weight pleather with no problems, in fact I liked it a lot!  I've also sewn with heavier weight vinyls that have given me nightmares.  I fold it right sides together and rub, if it's really stiff and sticky in the store, I don't sew with it.   If it's light and only a little sticky, I'll use it.  Just a little tip for your article.

    2. andryea | | #3

      Thanks for your feedback.

      The vinyl I am using has a soft flannel-type backing, definitely not the knitted kind. I may consider using what the fabric store called 'ultra leather', in the upholstery section that has a knitted back but at this point I am still determining what will sew up easily and drape/fit the chairs better. Still... 8.50/yd vs 30./yd... I will probably use the cheaper vinyl.

      Will I have trouble finding a teflon foot? (I have an old Pfaff Hobbymatic 875.) I saw a picture of a foot that had a little textured roller on it...do you know anything about this foot and what it is used for?

      Thanks again...in advance.

      1. carolfresia | | #4

        I'm not sure how easy it is to find a Teflon foot for a Pfaff--I'd call your dealer and see what the story is there.  Someone else had a suggestion in one of the other places where you posted--was it to sew over freezer paper? This provides a smooth surface and then you can tear it off easily afterwards.

        THe fake leather I used wasn't that costly--about $8.95/yd, I think. I rather liked it for the purpose (Halloween costume accessories) and though it might be good for tote bags and the like.


        1. andryea | | #5

          I have actually tried topstitching on the vinyl I bought and believe it or not it sewed up beautifully...no problem, no sticking, no slipping fabric, no binding. I am amazed!

          I did read the freezer paper idea and although it is a good one it isn't practical in this application. I am having to topstitch in some very tight places and just getting the seam straight under the needle is difficult enough!

          I saw these slipcovers in a recent issue of Mary Englebreit's Home Companion and am determined to duplicate them for my dining room chairs.

          Anyway... thanks for all your help.


          1. carolfresia | | #6

            Glad to hear that the vinyl is cooperating nicely. Isn't it nice when an anticipated problem turns out not to be a problem at all? It kind of compensates for those many times when things go wrong unexpectedly!


  2. Crafty_Manx | | #7

    I did some sewing on a heavy vinyl a while back for a Halloween costume.  I used a leather needle and lengthened my stitch length.  I sewed a sample seam on scraps and then tugged the seam, trying to tear it.  If the stitch length is too small it will perforate the vinyl and the seam should easily tear apart.  Just keep playing with stitch length and tension until you get the strength that you want in the seam.


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