any tips on sewing with vinyl?

teresa_nc7December 1, 2008

I've offered to sew an outdoor, water-proof cover for my sister to store her large metal wreath form in. I'm concerned that stitching holes in vinyl will perhaps decrease the protection of the cover when it rains.

Anyone have any special tips for sewing with vinyl? She is going to look at flannel backed vinyl tablecloth fabric and perhaps tarps used for camping.


~ Teresa

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A few years ago I recovered the seats on my son's snowmobile. It was a heavy jersey backed vinyl fabric I was using, and to sew it I used a needle used for leather. When I bought the needle the man in the store suggested running a little smear of oil along where the seam was going to be so that the foot would slide easily. It worked fine. As well , I put a piece of tissue paper under the fabric as I sewed. The problem seems to be to get it to slide easily. Perhaps there is some sort of sealant you could apply to the seams to waterproof them, but you'd have to be careful it wouldn't dissolve the vinyl. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 3:39PM
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Hi: I agree with chickadee about the needle. To get it slide along easier try using a teflon foot. It is meant for vinyl and leather sewing. You may have to go to your sewing dealer to get one, but Nancy's Notions carry them as well. I would waterproof the seams to.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 7:10PM
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I think I have that teflon foot or one for leather. Thanks for the advice about waterproofing the seams.


    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 9:58PM
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If you look at anything sewed in vinyl that is used outdoors, they use a heavier thread & longer stitch length than normal.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 9:57AM
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Thanks, gram! I don't think I would have thought of that.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 11:44AM
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Yes, definitely a long stitch, 6-8 stitches per inch is best. Buy upholstery weight nylon thread. A leather needle isn't necessary, but the largest needle that will fit your machine (18/100) should work well with the upholstery thread.

Teflon foot, if you have one, but not absolutley necessary. Tissue paper strips also work.

Flannel-backed tablecloths - they are pretty flimsy. They will certainly stitch together OK, but they are not the least bit durable. Actual marine-grade vinyl is available as remnants at upholstery supply shops, and it can be dirt-cheap.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 6:26PM
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You can use silicone sealant( feels like rubber) on the seams to cover up the holes. It is flexable after it dries.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 12:08PM
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teresa, if you plan to store the item outdoors on a permanent basis, I suggest you consider marine fabrics & vinyls & thread. These products are designed to withstand the elements, esp UV rays which will break down the tarps, vinyl tablecoths, etc. Not difficult to sew - and your covers will last many years.
A great source is
I have no connection to the company other than a very satisfied longtime customer. They have very knowledgeable customer service who all sew.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 8:23AM
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Hmmmmm....funny you should mention Sailrite, rivergirl! I work for Glen Raven, Inc., the company that makes Sunbrella and my sister is married to the President and CEO! We make the best marine fabric there is!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 9:10AM
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Yes you do - and I continue to do my part to keep Glen Raven in business! LOL! DH asked me yesterday if I could "quilt" a binnacle cover for him for Christmas. His sarcasm was directed at my free sewing time going to quilting and learning - while I have abandoned the 90% completed winter boat cover and just promise the binnacle cover everytime he brings it up!
This is all to funny! So now I have to ask, why you aren't using Sunbrella for your cover & is it for the same sister? I have to also mention - I love the newer fabrics and wgts - wish I had unlimited time & funds!
This is indeed funny and goes to show what a small world it is! This has to make you smile - and I hardly ever look at the Sewing Forum!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 9:39AM
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I think she thought that the awning Sunbrella would be too thick for my machine, but I did tell her that I could use our mom's Singer 15-91 and it would go through it just fine. Also, this cover is going to be B-I-G as the wreath is one you can walk through at the front door - probably over 6 feet tall. Of course, we can order seconds and get an employee discount too.

We are even making some gorgeous rugs now too! I saw some in our lobby the other day. Too bad I can't afford them. :(
So now we make everything from window sheer fabrics to furniture fabrics to awning and marine fabrics and now rugs on the floor! Amazing!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 4:24PM
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