Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Friday, November 6, 2009

Working with Iron-on Vinyl

If you have ever done a Google search on sewing vinyl, you know that this is one of the great curses of many a seamstress. The stuff bunches up, slips about, and then sticks to the presser foot of your machine. Solutions abound. You can buy a special Teflon presser foot and industrial needle feed machines. Hand sewing is an option, and some suggest using a walking foot for heavy vinyl. Simpler recommendations include sandwiching the vinyl between tissue paper, waxed paper, gift wrapping paper or interfacing. Adding a piece of tape to the bottom of the presser foot (some prefer painter’s tape while others recommend regular gift wrapping tape). I have even heard of applying sewers aid, a silicone thread lubricant directly to the vinyl.
A different approach is to use something called iron-on vinyl by Therm O Web. I recently came across a reference to this stuff in a pattern for baby bibs, and had to investigate. Readily available online, it comes in 17 inch widths and 2 yard packages or 20 yard bolts, and is available in gloss or matte. I have now completed an insulated lunch sack which I designed using iron-on vinyl on the liner, and have started working on the baby bib pattern I originally mentioned. It really is the easy solution.
In both cases I used the fusible vinyl with quilter’s cotton, so I can’t tell you how it would work with heavier fabrics, or with synthetics. This product is quite lightweight, so it might have difficultly holding up to heavy fabrics like denim, and I’m not sure that you can get most synthetic fabrics warm enough to make a good bond, but for the applications I tried, it’s great.
Here are a few tips:
Wash and dry fabric in same manner that you intend to wash the final product so that any shrinkage will occur before the pieces are cut.
Affix the iron-on vinyl to fabric for lining prior to cutting out pattern. Though you may waste a small amount of material this way, it is much easier than trying to line up and bond the two pieces after they are cut out.
The package for the Thermo-web provides detailed directions on how to fuse the vinyl to the face of the fabric, but it is very similar to other fusible products you may have worked with.
Pre-heat the iron and the fabric by running the warm iron over the face. This also makes sure there are no wrinkles in the fabric.
Peel the backing off the vinyl sheet and layer the tacky side to the fabric smoothing it out with your hands.
Use the hot, dry iron (no steam) for several seconds in each spot, moving with an overlapping motion until you have fused the entire piece of fabric.
Allow the fabric to cool and then proceed with cutting out your pattern pieces
Remember that every hole poked in the fabric will show later because of the vinyl. Make sure to place pins in the seam margin both when affixing the pattern to the fabric and to hold pieces together for sewing
Every machine works a bit differently, so experiment with a piece of scrap to get your upper tension set correctly. Some may find that you need a slightly looser tension on the top thread to achieve a good stitch.
Make sure you are using the correct needle size for the added weight of the fabric. Depending on how bulky your project is, you might even consider using a leather needle.
The cute bib pattern I’m using can be purchased here Pattern Play.
My pattern for two sizes of the insulated lunch sack is available for purchase in my Craftsy Pattern Store.