Sunday, 2 February 2014

Don’t fear the vinyl

Thank you so much for the lovely comments regarding my ‘Mahon’ bag. Whilst I have a love/hate relationship with leatherette I’m still going to continue making bags out of the fabric. If anything, it’s made me more determined as it’s such a versatile fabric.

One of the reasons why I don’t like leatherette is you can’t unpick your work. OK that’s not strictly true. You can but you’re left with the needle holes, and sewing over the holes isn’t a good idea as it can cause tearing.

What it has taught me to do, seeing as I can’t unpick my mistakes, is to take my time. I’m lucky as my sewing machine has a variable speed setting so no matter how hard I press the foot pedal, it won’t go any faster.

If you fancy making something out of vinyl fabric but are weary of leatherette, why not try oilcloth. It’s very much similar to leatherette but isn’t as stiff and bulky. You can make your own oilcloth (plenty of websites will show you how) but I prefer to buy it ready done. There are loads of places where you can buy it now. We even stumbled upon a lovely little shop in Sete, France which sold just oilcloth. I wish I bought more now......

There are a couple of things you’ll need to make life so much easier when you’re working with vinyl:
  • A roller or Teflon sewing foot as normal sewing foot tends to stick. You can also use strips of wax or tissue paper. You simply place it on top of the vinyl, sew over it then pull the paper away.
  • A leather or denim sewing needle. These are much sharper than normal sewing needles so are less likely to tear or damage the vinyl.
  • Paper clips and grips to hold your work as pins will leave a hole. If you’re using metal paper be careful as the points can tear or scratch the vinyl. If you can use the plastic coated coloured ones. I use clothes pegs when I have long seams to stitch. If you really must use pins then please make sure you pin in the seam allowance so the holes won’t show through.
  • Select a longer stitch length than you would normally use as the closer the holes are to each other, the more likely they are to perforate.
  • Use a thicker sewing thread as this will make the seams stronger and don't back stitch, as again this can cause the vinyl to perforate. Simply knot the thread ends securely.
  • Invest in a Hera Marker and a Finger Presser. As you can’t use heat on vinyl (well, you can but the consequences are disastrous!!!) these little plastic devices take the place of an iron.  The Finger Presser does just that, it presses seams opens. The Hera Marker makes creases so making a fold in the bulky vinyl is so easy. Simply score on the wrong side of the fabric (this is very important as it will cut the vinyl otherwise) and you end up with a perfect fold.
I hope this has alleviated some of the fears of vinyl. Give it a try. It’s only a piece of fabric after all.....

Have a great week.


Gertie xx

PS why not pop over to Handmade Monday to see what other fellow craft bloggers have been up to.


  1. I've been wondering about using oilcloth and vinyl but I'm so nervous about using it. So far I think I'll stick to my cotton safety zone :-)

    1. I promise you it's not that bad. Trust me.... xx

  2. Really good tips, thanks:) Vicky

  3. Timely, thanks for the tips - I am currently looking to buy some oilcloth after your suggestion last week. There are so many lovely designs I have spent hours today browsing and got no nearer a decision!

  4. Lots of fantastic advice here, thank you! I'm thinking of making some outdoor bunting with oilcloth this summer so have bookmarked this post to refer back to! :)

    1. Good luck with the bunting. If you need any help or advice just ask xx

  5. Great advice, Gertie, many thanks. It's all the things a novice wouldn't think about, such as the pins. Hope you have a good week.

  6. Great advice! Will give it a go. :)

  7. Thanks for sharing your advice Gertie, as you can already tell it's prompting most of us to think about trying it ourselves. Have a good week.

  8. really helpful tips, thanks Gertie! Feel inspired to do something with a lovely piece of oilcloth I bought recently. Maybe a bag? xx