Tips & Tricks for Sewing Faux Leather

Posted on June 14, 2021 by Greg Dugdale

There are different types of vinyl out there like oilcloth, laminated fabric, PVC, and fashion-weight faux leather (or pleather). Some vinyl fabrics are backed with fabric, mesh, or are completely transparent. All of this is to say that faux leather has evolved significantly over the last few years, and we're here to make sure your sewing skills evolve with it!

First things first, you need leather needles. I would only use leather needles unless the fabric isn’t super thick, in which case, you could use a denim needle as an alternative. Let's take a look at a bunch of tips for sewing with faux leather so you can have a clean and professional garment every time!

Finding the Right Presser Foot

Different types of feet are needed for different types of material. Depending on what material you get, I suggest having all three of these feet to test which works best with your machine. A Teflon foot has a nonstick has a coating on the bottom to help it slide along the vinyl fabric. A walking foot has feed dogs that help push both the top and bottom layers of fabric at the same time, while a rolling foot presses the fabric as you sew. 

Stitching

A long stitch length is a must. Use stitch length 4 on your machine; 4.5 might be too long. Why use a longer stitch? The smaller the stitch, the more holes you will have and the fabric will become weakened or damaged, making it more likely to tear at the seams.

Tension

Finding the right tension will be a little difficult, so I suggest you do multiple samples on scrap pieces of fabric to make sure you have the perfect tension for your machine, needle, thread, and fabric to work together. 

Thread

Depending on the type of fabric or project, you might want to use a polyester thread, nylon, and or rayon. Cotton threads might not be strong enough and could snap over time.

Pinning Your Fabric

Pins will pierce through the fabric and leave holes. Instead, use binder clips or wonder clips while you sew. If you want to add an applique, simply use scotch tape to hold it in place and sew on top of it. 

Pressing Seams

Ironing vinyl isn’t the best, but it still can be done using a pressing cloth and a low heat setting. You can also use a rubber mallet to pound out your thick seams. Another method is using a fabric roller to press seams as well. 

Sewing

When sewing, help guide the fabric through by pulling on the back end. By doing this, you will help with the stitching. If your machine doesn’t have throat plate guidelines, mark your seams with painter’s tape. Another tip for help sewing is spraying a dash of silicone spray on your fabric. This will help the foot glide right over your fabric and not get stuck. It's also a food-safe product and won’t leave a residue. 

If you don’t want to use the spray you can try doing to tissue paper method. Place a piece of tissue paper on top and a piece on the bottom. This helps the foot glide over the fabric.  The negative side of this is that it can be a pain to tear away all the bits and pieces. 

Best Projects for Vinyl & Faux Leather

When sewing with vinyl you want to keep your projects as easy as possible, with fewer seams and less bulk. Skirts with simple seams, shorts, leggings, etc. 

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