Learn how to laminate fabric the easy way! Fabric laminating adds strength and insulation to the properties of the fabric. The greatest advantage of laminating fabric is that the fabric becomes waterproof, making it suitable for a large range of crafts and applications.
How to Laminate Fabric Tutorial
What is Laminated Fabric?
Laminating fabric is the process of bonding layers of material together by adding a layer of plastic or protective material. It is bonded in such a way that the two become one entity.
What is Laminated Fabric Used For?
Laminating fabric to make it waterproof is a great project for apron sewing patterns, table mats, raincoats, coasters, tote bags, cosmetic pouches and upholstery you want to be able to wipe down when the family has finished dinner.
What is the Advantages of Laminated Fabric
Learning how to laminate fabric at home means you can created waterproof fabric in any color or pattern you like. Laminated fabric can be easily wiped clean making it perfect for items such as cosmetic pouches.
There is one disadvantage, and that is the laminating iron-on vinyl is generally narrow, and this factor limits it to laminating in a 15”to 20” width. There are many items that benefit from being laminated, but sometimes you need to be creative to work with narrower widths.
What You Need to Laminate Fabric at Home
- IRON ON VINYL - These come in small rolls and can be matt or gloss finished.
- CUTTING TOOLS - Paper-cutting scissors or a rotary cutting blade.
- PRESSING TOOLS - Iron and ironing board.
- FABRIC - Cotton fabric like quilting fabric, canvas, or duck cloth.
- WEIGHTS - Pattern weights need to be used as pins will leave holes in your laminated fabric. If you don't have pattern weights, use tins from your pantry.
- OPTIONAL – freezer paper, brown craft paper, glitter.
Best Fabric to Laminate
The best fabric to use for lamination is a cotton fabric. Quilting cotton is perfect for adding a plastic laminated surface as it is densely woven and can take the heat of the iron required for the bonding process.
How to Laminate Fabric, Step by Step Instructions
Preparation is key to laminating fabric. You want to laminate the pre-cut fabric pieces, but because this is an iron-on process, it is easier to work in rectangles and then cut out the pattern from the laminated rectangles.
There will be some scrap and odd shapes left over, but these could be used for other projects. Remember, ‘waste not want not’ and squirrel your pieces away for other small projects.
Step 1 - Cutting
- Cut out a piece of the iron-on vinyl.
- Use the grid on the back as a guide for the amount of fabric required.
- Use some fabric weights to hold down the edges of the vinyl because it will want to curl.
Step 2 - Preparation
- Lay your fabric piece right side up on your ironing board.
- Iron it so there are no wrinkles and no threads or lint on the right side of the fabric.
- Pull the backing off the laminate vinyl.
- Keep the backing you have pulled off, as it will have a use in the end.
Step 3 - Joining the Laminate
- Press the sticky side of the laminate vinyl onto the right side of the fabric with your hand.
- It smoothes on quite easily and does not stick firmly at this stage, so it can be lifted and gently moved if necessary.
- Place the backing paper's shiny side over the fabric. If you did not keep the backing paper, then freezer paper will serve the same purpose.
- Put the shiny side of the freezer paper over the fabric.
Step 4 - Pressing
- Use the freezer paper or the backing paper as your presser cloth, and set your iron on medium heat with NO steam.
- Press the iron down and hold for eight seconds on one spot.
- Lift the iron and move to another spot and repeat the press and hold action for another eight seconds.
- Be careful not to touch the plastic because the heat of the iron will melt the plastic, and if it sticks to the iron, it makes a terrible mess.
- Flip the fabric to the other side, the wrong side, and press again with the iron. This helps to fuse the vinyl further and make sure it is really stuck to the fabric.
Step 5 - Sewing the Laminated Fabric
You are good to go to start sewing now. Cut out your pattern and sew up the article you plan to make. Remember to use clips instead of pins to hold the pieces together. If you must use pins, then pin outside the seam allowance line so any holes won't show.
How to Make a Laminated Fabric Pouch
You can make a laminated pouch for your cosmetics or other items that need waterproof fabric. This pouch was made using the techniques in my how to make a zipper pouch tutorial.
- FABRIC - Cut 4 rectangles of fabric 9x6 inches. The rectangles can actually be any size you choose as long as you have a matching zipper. Two will be for the outside and two for the lining. It is up to you whether you want to have the laminated fabric outside and inside or just the one. It is definitely a little bulkier to use laminated fabric on both sides, so choose a fabric that is not too thick to start with.
- ZIPPER - 8" measured along the teeth. The tape will be the length of your fabric rectangles.
How to Make a Laminated Pouch
Watch this video showing you how to sew a zipper pouch; otherwise, skip to the instructions and photos below. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for weekly sewing and craft videos.
- Place your zipper right side up on top of the right side of your lining fabric.
- Place the outside fabric on top with the right sides together. You will have created a sandwich with a zipper in the middle.
- Using a zipper foot, stitch along the zipper.
- Open up the seam and press using a pressing cloth. Remember not to place the iron on the plastic, as it will melt.
- Sew the other side of the zipper the same way. The zipper will be placed between the outside and inside fabrics which will be right sides together.
- Open up.
- Put the lining sides together and the outside fabric pieces together and sew all the way around, leaving a gap at the bottom of the lining.
- Turn the right side out through the gap and stitch closed. You should use a matching thread.
- Poke the lining to the inside, and you are all done!
Laminated Fabric Projects
Here are some suggestions for different projects that benefit from laminated vinyl fabric:
- Wipeable baby bibs
- Reusable lunch bags
- Kitchen aprons
- Bathroom wash bags
- Pool and beach tote bags
Tips for Using Laminated Fabric
Here are some extra tips to consider when using laminated fabric:
- DESIGN CHOICE - Keep it simple. Laminated fabric will not pleat, tuck and curve easily.
- TEST - Test your machine settings on a scrap before sewing with laminate fabric.
- FOOT - See if your machine has or needs a special foot to sew laminated fabric. Due to the sticky nature of the vinyl, a walking foot or Teflon foot can help it glide under the foot as you sew. This will minimize skipped stitches.
- NEEDLES - Remember to check your machine’s needle size because the laminated fabric will be thicker than most fabrics.
- THREAD - A strong polyester thread is recommended.
- BASTING - Avoid using straight pins if possible, and use clips like paper clips instead. Pins leave holes in the laminate fabric.
- FINISHING - Neaten edges with pinking shears because the laminated fabric will not fray. Avoid sewing with a serger because there will be too many holes left by the multiple needles.
- DECORATING - If you want to get fancy with some glitter or extra decorative ideas, Scatter glitter on the right side of the fabric before the laminate vinyl is set and ironed on. This is best done between steps four and five. Try other ideas on a scrap first to be sure they will not upset the bonding of the vinyl.
How to Laminate Fabric FAQs
Can you laminate your own fabric?
Yes you can! Fabric laminate can be purchased from fabric and craft stores and is a plastic film that you iron on cotton fabric. This makes your cotton fabric waterproof and dirt resistant.
How to Laminate Fabric - In Conclusion
Preparing and using laminated fabric is really an easy process. Taking it step-by-step and using simple patterns will ensure your success with this wonderful waterproof fabric.
More Fabric Articles
- Make your own Clothing Labels: DIY Fabric Labels Cheaply
- How to Tie Dye
- How to Dye Fabric
- How to Stiffen Fabric for Sewing and Craft
- Fabric Painting | BEST Tips and Techniques
- How to Waterproof Fabric
How to Laminate Fabric
- Fabric Laminate
- Cut out a piece of the iron-on vinyl. Use the grid on the back as a guide for the amount of fabric required. Use some fabric weights to hold down the edges of the vinyl because it will want to curl.
- Lay your fabric piece right side up on your ironing board. Pull the backing off the laminate vinyl. Keep the backing you have pulled off, as it will have a use in the end.
- Press the sticky side of the laminate vinyl onto the right side of the fabric with your hand. Place the backing paper's shiny side over the fabric. Set your iron on medium heat with NO steam. Press the iron down and hold for eight seconds on one spot. Lift the iron and move to another spot and repeat the press and hold action for another eight seconds. Be careful not to touch the plastic. Flip the fabric to the wrong side, and press again.
- Remove the backing and start sewing.