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Since I use vinyl quite frequently, I’ve been asked a lot of questions on how to work with vinyl. It looks intimidating, but I promise that it’s so much easier than it looks! In my experience, buying the right type of vinyl for your project begins at the fabric store and continues in the care and preservation of vinyl.
- Tip #1: Feel. The next time you visit a fabric store, take a walk down the vinyl aisle and touch the fabric. Does it feel heavy, light, cheap or durable? What about the wrong side? Is it flannel, felt, webbed or raw? I prefer the flannel side since it resembles lining (perfect for bags), it’s smooth (great for garments) and more attractive, in my opinion.
- Tip #2: Care. Ok, you’ve selected your vinyl and it’s being cut on the table! YAY! You will want to ask the fabric cutter to roll the vinyl. They may look at you weird, but vinyl creases very easily. And ironing out a crease can be very difficult. Once you get it home, I recommend keeping it rolled until you are ready to use it. And as you continue to store it, you will want to keep it rolled, standing up and away from sharp places. I keep mine in my coat closet, rolled with other vinyl pieces.
- If you do get a crease, you may iron it on the wrong side with a towel between the fabric and the iron. If it needs more attention after that, lay it on a flat surface and place a heavy book on top of the area with the crease. This usually does the trick.
- Tip #3: Thread. I learned the hard way that choosing the right thread for vinyl with make and break your project. I typically use denim thread or upholstery thread. Why? It’s stronger than the normal poly-blend/quilt thread.
- Tip #4: Needle. You may use a universal needle, denim needle or one that is for durable/thicker fabric. Your sewing machine manual will have a grid for which needle to buy for your type of fabric.
- Tip #5: Stitch length. Vinyl is very unforgiving. The needle perforates the fabric and it will leave a permanent puncture. I recommend using a scrap piece of vinyl and practicing the correct stitch length before working on your project. I have a brother machine, so I usually adjust my stitch length to 4.5. You may backstitch to reinforce your stitches since the length is a bit longer.