What Is Vinyl Fabric?

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Close up of vinyl fabric shower curtain.
Close up of vinyl fabric shower curtain. (Image: Rusudan Mchedlishvili/iStock/Getty Images)

Vinyl fabric, made of ethylene derived from natural gas and chlorine, offers a versatile craft material. It's a durable plastic material. Types of vinyl fabric include clear vinyl such as is used for raincoats; flannel-backed vinyl, often used for outdoor tablecloths; and other vinyl-coated fabrics available in many colors and weights. A faux alligator purse, patent-leather-look costumes or doll clothes, boat curtains, book covers, and an applique can all be made with vinyl fabric.

Faux Advantages

Vinyl fabric generally costs less than materials it can resemble, such as leather or latex. A home sewing machine will work on all but the heaviest vinyl fabrics. Vinyl works well for costumes and accessories. It has enough body to drape, such as for capes or cowboy chaps. Vinyl fabric is also a good choice for no-sew projects such as placemats because it doesn't ravel. It's fairly lightweight and can be sponged off instead of having to be put through a washer or taken to the cleaners.

Creating With Vinyl Fabric

Sewing scissors cut most weights of vinyl fabric. A craft knife is effective on the heavier vinyl fabrics. Use tailor's chalk in a contrasting color for pattern markings. With shiny vinyl, patterned vinyl and vinyl-coated cotton, make pattern marks on the reverse side. For sewing vinyl fabrics with a sewing machine, use a wedge needle and insert tissue paper between the foot and the vinyl. This keeps the foot moving smoothly during stitching instead of getting stuck. For projects requiring glue, obtain vinyl glue or vinyl cement and comply with product warnings. Flexible vinyl adhesives are a good choice for crafts that have curves or where the fabric moves during use, such as with bat wings.

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