Glad you asked that: Please give us some tips for sewing successfully with plastic or vinyl?

I am asked every so often how do you sew with plastic or vinyl? Good question……….glad you asked that!

And today’s post goes together with janome girl’s post on Wednesday this week (19 June) where she has another great vinyl project especially for the summer to share with you……. Don’t miss it!

At Janome, we, of course, have tools to make this task a walk in the park! If you use any metal or plastic foot when sewing directly on plastic or vinyl, it can stick and therefore the fabric does not move freely. What results is a rather nasty mess as the stitches pile up, form a knot and unnecessary holes in the plastic or vinyl. NOT something you want happening.

But not to worry, we have help for you:

  1. If you have a Janome sewing machine with an Acufeed Flex walking foot, you are in a good place! Put this super-duper walking foot on the machine and it will feed the plastic or vinyl virtually effortlessly. It also works extremely well with leather and cork too. So bag makers…… this is seriously good news. Right?   
  2. If you do not have the luxury of Acufeed Flex on your Janome machine, then your local Janome Dealer will be very happy to sell you a machine which does have Acufeed flex today! Seriously though, there are other options: we also have a handy dandy foot called the Janome Ultra glide foot. This is made from Teflon so it skims or slides easily over the plastic without sticking at all. We even have  a set of Ultra glide needle plate ( Teflon coated) plus the foot for some machine models. Ask your local Janome Dealer today for your options for your Janome machine model. 
  3. If you are not able to take advantage of either option 1 or 2 above, then you can always use tissue paper on either side of the plastic or vinyl but especially between the foot and plastic. This is somewhat fiddly; definitely blunts your needle quickly; you can’t really see what you are sewing;  and then you need to tear away the tissue paper afterwards. But, if all else fails, you can go with this option.
  4. To tell you the honest truth, I had the Janome HP foot and needle plate on my Janome Horizon MC15000 Quilt Maker while I was making this cute little zipper bag for my grand-daughter’s birthday last month (THANK YOU janome girl for sending me the glitter vinyl. Did my little one ever love her bag?!) I was doubtful this foot would work as it is metal on plastic but, what do you know, it worked really well. So that is yet another option for you.

Sewing the 2 rows of top stitching along the long edges of the shoulder or cross body strap for the bag. It glided along like very well indeed.

What other hints and tips do I have for sewing plastic and vinyl:

  1. DON’T  use pins. They make holes which will not go away. Rather use Clover Wonder clips. They work extremely well as they are like a clothes peg and hold the layers together as you sew.
  2. Use a good strong polyester thread. As the plastic or vinyl is a little thicker and made differently to a cotton fabric, I think you need something up to the task……enter good quality poly sewing thread. Janome has several threads that fit this bill: available from your local Janome dealer: ask for our Hilos Iris polyester sewing thread. It is called poly brite. OR ask for our Madeira sewing thread. Either way, you want to be sure your thread is up to the task.
  3. Remember that if you make a hole in the plastic with either a pin or a needle, it won’t go away so sew with care and caution as you do NOT want to have to unpick stitches.
  4. May not be necessary, but check it out in case you want to reduce the presser foot pressure – especially if you are sewing through multiple layers of plastic or vinyl. No sense in “fighting” with your project. Ease off a little on presser foot pressure and, if your machine has this feature, set the presser foot height a little higher so you have room to move and breathe!
  5. And lastly, I would highly recommend lengthening your stitch a bit as you don’t want them so close together that they perforate or tear your vinyl. My recommendation would be 3 or 3.5 SL.

Wouldn’t you like to know what I popped in this birthday bag for my little one? She was thrilled –  so rewarding when her little face lit up. And seriously, it took me all of maybe 45-50 minutes to cut it out and sew it up including inserting a zipper around about 1/3 of the bag. It had a narrow “gusset” so I sewed the zipper onto both ends of that and then inserted the entire gusset between the front and back of my bag.

And no, sorry, there is no pattern. I just looked at a few Pinterest pics my daughter showed me (had to have ears….apparently that is a thing)  and then made it out of my imagination from there. You can do it too! Trust yourself.

About Janome Canada

For over 100 years, Janome has been the brand of choice for sewing, embroidery, longarm quilting, sergers, coverhem machines - and MORE! Our Janome Canada head office; our Janome HQ, is the Janome Sewing and Learning Centre in Oakville, ON. Be sure to follow us here on Janome Life blog, as well as our other Janome Canada social media so you get the most from your Janome machine! @janomehq @janomecanada Janome HQ Facebook, Janome Canada Facebook Janome HQ You Tube channel, Janome Life You Tube channel
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3 Responses to Glad you asked that: Please give us some tips for sewing successfully with plastic or vinyl?

  1. Tecla Legge says:

    What about choice of needle? I have had issues with skipped stitches sewing on leather and vinyl, and then leaving holes that are rather difficult to deal with after the fact.


    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Tecla,

      Our Janome Purple tip needle is specifically made for preventing skipped stitches so perhaps you might to try this? Available from our Jnaome and Elna dealers.



  2. Carol Gerbitz says:

    I have been using tissue paper for years to sew on vinyl,etc. but I usually put it between the fabric and feed dogs, that is where I get the most “drag”


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