How to Sew Vinyl By Hand or With a Regular Sewing Machine

It is the texture of the material that will cause you the most trouble. Vinyl will not be an easy sewing option when done either by hand or by machine. There is so much to watch out for when handling vinyl that it may not be worth the effort. But that is a decision you have to make.

One of the first steps you need to learn is to not pin this material. Pins can leave large holes and those holes can rip later on. Then it does not move very well through your machine and dragging the material can leave marks. So you need to sew vinyl with care.

To learn more about sewing vinyl by hand or by a regular sewing machine, just continue to read our article. It has the information and helpful tips you need to know about. Take a few minutes to get up to speed on how to handle vinyl

Can You Sew Vinyl by Hand?

It is possible but because the material is so thick, you may hurt your hands when you attempt. Also, you may find that most clear vinyl fabrics are very thick, so thick that only a sewing machine can handle the sewing duty.

But if you are bent on trying make sure to clip the material and not pin it together. The holes from the pins are large and can help the material rip at a later date. Or you can warm up the vinyl by ironing it with an iron set to a low or moderate heat level.

This should make the material a little bit more flexible and easier to work with. Just remember to use a pressing cloth so you do not harm the vinyl fabric. The best recommendation that can be given is unless you do not have a sewing machine, it is better for you to not sew this material by hand.

There are just too many difficulties and challenges you have to overcome in order to make your sewing project come outright. But play this by ear and if you want to, try it by hand. You may never do it again though.

How do You Sew Two Pieces of Vinyl Together?


When you use your machine to do this task, you should clip the vinyl pieces together. As we said earlier, avoid using pins as those holes not only may help a tear take place, but they will not be invisible.

Or you can try to use fabric glue to hold the pieces in place until you sew the stitch pattern you want. A very strong adhesive is what is called for here. You do not want to use a temporary glue or a weak permanent fabric glue. The strong adhesive will hold the seams together and keep your item very durable.

When you use stitches, a small stitch length is not attractive and it will put too many holes into the vinyl. Lengthen the stitch length so you can keep the material looking good and avoid a lot of unnecessary holes.

Make sure to test your stitch length on a scrap piece of the same type of vinyl to make sure that is the right length and pattern to use. This test will also help you adjust the tension before you start sewing on the real project. Having the right tension will make your project and not ruin it.

How to Sew Vinyl by Hand

The first step is to make sure you have a thimble or two on your fingers. This will protect your fingertips as you push the needle through this tough fabric. Then you should keep your stitches about 1/4 of an inch apart. This is done for the same reasons already mentioned above.

Then do not make short stitch lengths. Longer stitches will still hold the material together and probably be more attractive than a short stitch pattern. Next, use the right needle. One that is very sharp and made to work with thick, heavy fabrics that are tough to sew.

Some people say that there is no wrong needle to use and those same people say to use one of the following sizes-- between 16 and 22 excluding 19 and 20. Just make sure the needle is sharp and the eye is the right size for the thread.

Also, you should use needs to be strong and go to nylon if you feel some of the seams will experience a lot of stress. When cutting the material, use a rotary cutter for the cleanest edge possible. Again, make sure that the blade is sharp.

You can use good fabric glue to hold the pieces together if you do not want to sew a lot.

Can I Sew Vinyl With a Regular Sewing Machine?


Yes, you can and some of the same advice already given works well when you use this option. Also, your hands will thank you if you decide to use this option. Vinyl is not an easy fabric to sew by hand and using your machine is the best way to handle vinyl projects.

Then some good products help hold zippers and seams together while you sew. A good adhesive will hold any zippers in place and not let them shift on you.

The right thread and needle are important and the needle eye should be large enough to handle the thread size and type you select. One thing you should be thinking about is the presser foot. Sometimes vinyl will stick to the metal feet and make it hard to move the fabric through the machine.

Using scotch tape or some other slick tape should take care of that issue for you. Remember vinyl is not always that flexible so you may have a lot of work on your hands maneuvering the material through your sewing machine.

When you have the right tools, you can do a lot with your sewing machine and those tools will help you sew vinyl a little bit easier.

A Sewing Machine That Can Sew Vinyl

You can use a regular sewing machine to sew this material but, like leather, you have to watch the thickness of the material. The different major brands of sewing machines all make sewing machines that work on vinyl. Some are for residential use and others are not.

A good industrial machine or a heavy-duty model should do the trick and have the power you need to sew through thick pieces of vinyl material. The best machines to use are industrial ones tough. If you are sewing then vinyl, under 1/4 or 3/16 of an inch you may be able to use your regular sewing machine.

Just be careful to have the right needle etc., in place before you start. Also, the regular sewing machine is more for basic vinyl sewing projects not for more elaborate ones. The thing is, if your vinyl sewing project is once in a blue moon, then buying a different machine is not going to be worth the trouble or the expense.

Getting a better sewing machine is justified when you will be sewing vinyl projects regularly. You will want to use a good machine as one mistake ruins your project and you need a good sewing machine to help avoid those mistakes.

What Thread to Sew Vinyl


The thread you use is probably the most important piece of the sewing vinyl puzzle. Not only does it have to be strong, but it also has to be durable for your item to survive for many years.

The best thread to use would be a polyester all-purpose thread. But if you are going to do some topstitching as well, then you can go down to a heavy-duty thread but make sure it is thick. Sometimes, you can go with a nylon-style thread but only if the seams are going to have a lot of stress placed on them.

The use of fabric glue at the seams will reinforce the stitches and help with the durability of the product. You only need a drop every 2 inches to handle this part. Remember you cannot backstitch when sewing on vinyl.

The result won't look good and adding extra holes into the fabric is never a good idea especially when they are next to other holes. You can leave long tails of thread and then properly position those tails to lock in those stitches.

Also, use interfacing when adding in fasteners, etc. Those additions can cause the material to rip when pressure is applied.

What Size Needle do I Need to Sew Vinyl?

Some people, as we mentioned earlier, are not particular about the size of needle you use. They recommend using anyone between the sizes of 16 and 22 excluding 19 & 20. That is with the numeral 100 in front of those numerals.

One detail is very important and that is the needle should be made for leather or denim. Any other style of needle and you may have a few problems on your hands. needles that are made for thick, heavy-weight materials do not break as often and can handle the pressure that comes when going through that fabric.

Your stitch length should be over 3.0 mm and the stitch width should be greater than 2.5 mm. Anything less and you can be perforating the material making it ready to be torn at a moment's notice.

As a reminder, go for clips over pins for the same reason why you want to use a longer stitch length. It is all about the holes you put into the material and how many you put in. You want as few as possible.

Can You Sew Clear Vinyl?


Yes, this is possible as clear vinyl is still a flexible fabric although not too flexible. The only problem is that this material may be thicker than normal and you have to make adjustments to your machine.

A good walking foot is an ideal accessory you want to use when sewing with this version of vinyl. Then choose a very sharp, new needle to replace the one currently in your sewing machine. A good polyester thread, any color, will do but you can go stronger if you want.

If you have a Teflon foot insert that as vinyl, no matter the version, will stick to the metal as it passes through the needle. If you do not have a Teflon foot use scotch tape and cover the needle plate and other metal surfaces that touch the vinyl as well.

Also, do not iron any creases you may find in the clear vinyl. The heat could cause it to melt and you will be looking for a new piece to work with.

Can You Sew a Vinyl Shower Curtain?

Yes, this is also possible but the main drawback will be the holes. When you are dealing with water-related projects, you have to keep in mind that water can slip through holes.

That means that it is possible, after sewing, the water in your shower will get through any of the holes you put into the curtain. it may be best to use a fabric adhesive that is strong and won’t leave any holes in its wake.

Sewing vinyl shower curtains will take the same equipment already described above. Also, you may need some interfacing between the areas you are sewing together. That interfacing will help support the weight of the two vinyl shower curtain pieces.

To seal the holes you can use fabric glue or simple candle wax but the latter may melt due to the heat of the steam or water hitting it. Then be careful when you do the seams for the hooks as you will want to make sure those are very strong and secure.

Sewing vinyl shower curtains is like sewing other pieces of vinyl and great care is needed as you work.

How to Sew Vinyl Seat Covers


To start you can have a choice. You can use 8, 10, or 12 gauge plastic vinyl for the covers. Avoid the marine vinyl options as those are too thick to use for this project. Once you have the vinyl, remove the seat from the chair and turn it upside down over the vinyl piece.

As you cut, add in a little extra to cover the fold-over and leave yourself room for sewing or stapling. Actually, it is better not to sew this on unless you want to attach the vinyl directly to the fabric. But that may leave openings for dirt etc to get inside.

You can staple the vinyl to the wood frame or you can use good strong fabric glue to attach it. The problem with the latter option is that you have to wait for each side to dry first before doing the next side.

Once you staple the one side, pull it taut over to the other side and then staple again. Repeat this process for all four sides. After that is done, you can use a hairdryer to help make the vinyl conform to the fabric on the seat.

How to Sew Vinyl Upholstery

In this situation, a heavy-duty industrial thread is a go-to thread to use. Upholstery sees a lot of action and gets a lot of weight and other stress placed on it so having the toughest and strongest thread possible is best. The information follows the instructions for boat upholstery.

Use a size 21 needle and get it into your machine then you can make your pattern for the seat. It is best to do this step first so you do not forget to do it after you get the vinyl ready. Make sure the bobbin is loaded with a matching thread.

If you are adding designs, sew those onto the flat portions of the vinyl seat first before doing the seams. Once the designs are on, you can start sewing the piping into place if you are going with that specific design.

Next, when the piping is done line up the edges of the fabric and sew as close to the piping as possible. When all the sewing is done, lay the vinyl over the seat and stable the sides underneath to the wood frame.

Make sure all sides are smooth and tight and add extra staples to the corners for reinforcement. Put the cushion in place when you are done.

Some Final Words

Working with vinyl is not for hand sewers. It may be too tough of a material to sew without hurting your hands and taking a long time to do. use a good sewing machine that has the power to handle thick fabrics like vinyl.

Your regular sewing machine will only handle the thinner thicknesses of this material but do not buy a new one unless you will be doing vinyl projects all the time.

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Add Your Reply