Fabrics 101: Embroidering on Vinyl or Oilcloth
Fabrics 101: Embroidering on Vinyl /
fun, funky, and unexpected. If you
're looking for a super slick idea
for your next project, try
embroidering on vinyl!
Vinyl fabric (also called PVC, and
yes, it 's a softer version of the
material used for pipes) may be a
lot different from most fabrics you
embroider, but despite its plastic
makeup, it works in pretty much the
same way. Try using it for purses
and bags, upholstery, jackets,
aprons, and anything you want to be
waterproof. It has the same makeup
as oilcloth that's used on picnic
tables, so follow the same steps!
Choosing Your Materials
FABRIC: There are a few different
kinds of vinyl fabrics on the market,
usually found in the home decor section
of your fabric store. Many (such as the
one pictured here) feature a moderately
thick layer of vinyl, backed by a knit
fabric. Surfaces range from smooth and
slick, to textured for upholstery, to
pleather. Modern oilcloth is similar
to these materials, with a layer of
clear vinyl over a visible woven cotton
Clear vinyl fabrics are also available,
but these generally aren't good to
embroider on, because the needle creates
perforations that make the vinyl tear
easily. (In fact, because of this, we've
used thin clear vinyl as a
DESIGN: When backed with knit
fabric, vinyl is strong, so it can
handle a wide range of designs. While
it's too thick to pucker, because vinyl
is a bit stretchy, very large or heavy
designs may cause a subtle warping of
the fabric. You can help avoid this by
choosing designs with open areas, using
a sturdy stabilizer, hooping firmly with
even tension, and using the smallest
hoop possible for your design.
NEEDLE: Use a 75/11 sharp sewing
needle to get a crisp-looking design
with minimally visible perforations.
STABILIZER: Use a medium-weight
cutaway stabilizer, attached to the back
of your vinyl with temporary spray adhesive. This
is essential because while vinyl is
thick and heavy, it's stretchy. A sturdy
cutaway stabilizer will help keep the
embroidery from warping the vinyl.
Spray a piece of medium-weight cutaway
stabilizer generously with temporary
spray adhesive, then smooth the vinyl on
top. Hoop the two layers together as
tightly and evenly as possible.
FINISHING: Your vinyl is
embroidered! Cut away the excess
stabilizer and keep constructing your
designs such as
Simply Birds and Blossoms, pictured
here, work well with vinyl because they
won't warp it too much. A matte surface
such as the one on this vinyl also helps
camouflage any warping that may occur
with heavier designs, because light
won't reflect as much to highlight any
ups and downs.
glittery vinyl has a smooth, shiny
surface that catches the light. It'd be
great fun to use on a classic diner
chair! We couldn't resist embellishing
it with these
retro Christmas ornaments.
vinyl in several Embroidery Library
projects, including a
poker caddy and a
toy drum. It's also great for purses
and bags, upholstery, jackets, aprons,
and lots more! For further inspiration,
check out some
vinyl projects in the Stitchers'
stitching on this fantastic plastic!
Stitching tips for vinyl:
designs with low to medium complexity; avoid very complex designs.