Learn all about what is vinyl fabric, its uses and types. In the sewing world, there is high regard associated with modern vinyl or polyvinyl chloride. Otherwise, famous for being called PVC, this fabric is made of a plastic top with a woven backing.
Vinyl fabric is known to be one of the most flexible and frequently used materials in the world today. The use for vinyl is endless, from construction, automotive, housewares, furniture, upholstery, and even food covers. This synthetic fabric has many characteristics and is considered one of the most used and popular plastics.
What is Vinyl Fabric Tutorial?
Vinyl fabric is made of synthetic materials and designed for various uses, such as sports clothing, fire protective clothing, equipment covers, and military and commercial tents. It is made of polyurethane which is transformed into nonwoven plastic, which is made to imitate leather.
Vinyl fabric is also versatile and good for industrial and commercial uses. It is engineered and preferred by many as it is easier to produce than other types of industrial fabric and is considered to be a cruelty free alternative to leather.
Since PVCs contain chlorine, it is considered stable, fire retardant, and also resistant to oil and other chemicals. It is also waterproof and weatherproof, making it a very economical choice.
What is Vinyl Fabric Called?
Vinyl fabric is also called synthetic leather or pleather. Essentially man-made, vinyl is made of ethylene and chlorine processed together. It can be produced in every color possible, with various finishes from opaque, matte, and clear. Because vinyl is designed as an imitation of leather, it usually has a grain-like texture that can be subtle or bold.
What is Vinyl Fabrics Purpose?
The purpose of producing vinyl fabric is usually as a cheaper and more hardwearing alternative to leather.
What is Vinyl's Origin
Polyvinyl Chloride or simply PVC, was created by German chemist Eugen Baumann in 1872. However, its brittle properties at the time still made its use quite limited.
In the 1920s, Waldo Semon was able to develop a process to plasticize it by using additives. He started experimenting with this by making shoe heels and golf balls with great results. This produced an adaptable material that would then have innumerable commercial and industrial uses.
What is Vinyl Fabric Qualities
Vinyl has been one of the most popular materials for various uses ever since its conception.
Advantages of Vinyl Fabric
Here are some qualities of vinyl or PVC fabric that make it an excellent choice for many purposes:
- Flame retardant - This can be attributed to its chlorine base. This content does not allow the material to ignite or burn. The flame will immediately stop once the source is removed. In metal tubing, a vinyl duct will not also short or conduct. Hence it is considered non-hazardous in the event of a fire from electrical sources.
- Durable - Vinyl fabric is known to last a long time due to its molecular composition. It also does not fray and has a strong surface with excellent performance.
- Abrasion, moisture, and water-resistant - Vinyl fabrics have a durable, water-resistant finish to repel water and moisture.
- Versatile - As mentioned earlier, vinyl is just about one of the most versatile materials. It can be used in something as hardwearing as industrial tarps, or soft like food wraps.
- Easy to clean - Most vinyl fabric can be cleaned easily with a damp cloth.
Disadvantages of Vinyl
- Cracks - Vinyl crack over time and reveal the woven fabric underneath. This is an important consideration when using vinyl for couches and handbags.
- Does not breathe - When used as an upholstery fabric, it does not breathe like natural leather.
- Stiff - Vinyl fabric can be stiff and does not wear in like leather items.
What is Vinyl Fabric – Types
It has been established that vinyl fabrics simply are one of the most versatile fabrics that are suitable for various uses. The qualities highlighted above also make it an exceptional material to use.
Vinyl fabric selection is crucial for your upholstery product requirements. To be able to choose the right vinyl fabric, it is important to think of where and how often you will use it. Doing so will easily lead you to the right choice, that’s both durable and economical, if not just aesthetically pleasing to look at.
There are three types of vinyl fabrics made by manufacturers for different uses. These are as follows:
1. Commercial Grade Vinyl Fabric
This is also called expanded vinyl. It is a foam-type material that is considered heavy duty. Most of this kind of vinyl has texture on the surface. It is durable, which makes it perfect for heavy-use furniture.
Most companies have now added special coatings to this type of vinyl fabric, such as antibacterial treatments and anti-stain coating, to add to its effectiveness.
2. Marine-Grade Vinyl Fabric
Marine vinyl is a great choice for upholstery for any furniture designed for outdoor use. Additional treatments have been specially added to the marine-grade vinyl to protect it from ultraviolet rays and color fading.
Production of this type of vinyl is almost the same as the commercial grade but with added protection. This is mostly used for recreational furniture and vehicles, such as boat cushions, outdoor seats, and the like. Marine vinyl is great for sewing projects such as making clutches.
3. Non-Expanded Vinyl Grade Fabric
This type of vinyl has a backing made of cloth, which was added to strengthen the vinyl and secure it in place. Mainly designed for light use, the lining is usually flannel, cheesecloth, or woven linen. This is essentially for furniture, bags, or clothing that you will not be using much. Non-expanded vinyl grade fabrics are not advisable to be used in furnishings that you would be using often. This material easily tears.
4. Other Types of Vinyl Fabric for Sewing
There are many variations of the above fabrics that are specially designed for sewing. These include clear vinyl, quilted vinyl, craft vinyl and vinyl upholstery fabric.
Where to Buy Vinyl Fabric
Vinyl fabric for sewing can be purchased at craft and fabric stores. It is usually stored on rolls and cut by the yard. It is important that you keep it flat or rolled when transferring it home as any creases may not come out.
What is Vinyl Uses
Vinyl is considered a wonder fabric for its versatility. Some of the uses for vinyl are:
- CLOTHING - Vinyl fabric makes a great clothing material. It is a water and weather-resistant material that is great for coats, jackets, raincoats, sports bags, and even skirts, pants, and dresses. This type of clothing is usually seen in alternative fashion, such as punk, goth, emo, Lolita fashion, etc.
- ACCESSORIES - Fashion items such as handbags, boots and shoes, clothing trims, and accessories such as belts.
- FURNITURE - Upholstery for furniture. If you have pets, then a vinyl couch is a great choice that you don't need to be too precious with.
- CARS - Automotive uses such as convertible roofs, airbags, and seat covers.
- CURTAINS - Healthcare fabrics such as anti-microbial curtains. Vinyl can be used for many household products due to its resilience and endurance. Other examples include shower curtains.
- INDUSTRIAL - Industrial uses include tarps, sacks, and containers.
- MARINE - Marine uses such as sails and life jackets as well as boating seats.
- PROTECTIVE - Protective suits for firemen, military, and astronauts are often made from vinyl fabric.
What is Vinyl Fabric – Sewing
Just like other specialty fabrics, sewing vinyl fabric can be a bit tricky at the beginning. Here are some tips on how to sew with this fabric:
- Don’t Press Vinyl - Doing so might damage your fabric. If it has wrinkles that need to be straightened, use a hairdryer on low heat instead. The heat will allow the wrinkles to fall out.
- Store Properly - Prevent wrinkle problems from even starting by correct storage. Store the vinyl fabric by rolling rather than folding it. I always keep postage tubes to store my vinyl inside.
- Don’t Use Pins - Once you pin this fabric, there’s no turning back! The pin will leave a hole. As well as looking unattractive, this can damage the waterproofing of the fabric. Use sewing clips instead or small paper clips to hold your vinyl in place as needed.
- Use the Right Sewing Needles - Vinyl is best sewn using leather needles of the correct weight. The lightweight vinyl fabric needs 90/14 sewing machine needles. Heavier weight fabric, meanwhile, needs up to 100/16.
- Use a Strong Thread to Match - Use a polyester thread of good quality. It is better to use heavy-duty thread as this should last longer and will not come out undone. Don't use cotton thread for outdoor use as it is more prone to rot.
- Use the Correct Sewing Machine Settings - To avoid perforating vinyl fabric, the length setting should be at least 3.5mm.
- Use the Correct Foot - The best presser foot to use is a Teflon foot, roller foot or a walking foot.
- Practice on Scraps - Initial errors in sewing vinyl are but natural, but practice makes perfect! Practice on some scraps first to get your stitching looking good.
What is Vinyl Fabric – In Conclusion
Vinyl fabric or PVC, is valued for its flexibility, durability, and many other additional features it offers. The benefits and uses of this material are very diverse. Its versatility as a material also makes it an economical choice as an alternative to leather.
It is also worth mentioning that vinyl fabric is easily one of the best craft and garment design materials. It is not a surprise that vinyl has already replaced various materials that were conventionally used, including leather.
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