Alright- you’ve read the title of this blog- and you might think I’m crazy. I am. But read the post to find out why I had to even address this!
This technique was suggested on a sewing tv show which shall remain nameless. Mom and I were absolutely appalled...appalled. Sometimes we bring this episode up at our monthly sewing club, always as a joke, but let me explain it here for posterity.
On this sewing show, the host and guest were teaching viewers how to make a raincoat out of a shower curtain. This is ok so far. If the shower curtain is the right weight of vinyl, it can be a good way to get a diverse selection of vinyl prints, especially if you don’t have a fabric store in your area that carries lots of vinyl. But we’d like you to keep in mind, try not to buy something that looks really shower-curtain-esque. Don’t get caught wearing a rubber-ducky coat…unless you want to.
In order to sew on vinyl, you need to use some special tools. You’d think vinyl would be slick and whatnot, but it can stick to the bed of your machine and to your presser foot and cause some drag as you sew. I’m going to give you some tips about this, but first…
Whatever you do, DO NOT PUT BABY POWDER ON THE BED OF YOUR MACHINE! Get it out of your sewing room!
Truly, this was suggested as a way to reduce the drag of the vinyl, and Zede and I simply cannot stand idly by while this advice is disseminated to the public!
What the heck? Aren’t we constantly trying to keep our machines clean? Dusting, vacuuming, brushing, Q-tipping, etc. What happens after you’re finished with your raincoat? Do you get to clean off all of the powder? What if you miss some and it gets all over that dry-clean only silk you sew with next?
Or, more the point, do you know what happens when sewing machine oil and baby powder mix? Think about it, have you ever made bread? Flour, oil, water, it makes dough. It becomes a tasty loaf, but that bowl you mixed it in is now encrusted in something surprisingly like cement. Basically, you’ll create CEMENT inside your machine when the baby powder gets under those feed dogs and into that well-oiled hook system.
The only person benefitting from this technique might be sewing machine repair shops- if a bunch of people put baby powder in their machines, techs around the country will be getting a lot of business.
There are a few things to do to address vinyl drag-age:
- Use a Teflon-Foot. They sell one for every brand of machine. It’s usually a zig-zag presser foot that has a Teflon coating on bottom that allows things like vinyl and leather to slide right on through your machine. Heck, Baby Lock even makes one for their sergers! If you don’t have a Teflon foot, some people put cellophane tape on the sole of their foot- not quite as nice and neat- but it can work in a pinch.
- Use this machine hack that includes mutilating a Supreme Slider- read about it here! In that post, I instruct you on how to make a re-usable teflon pad for the bed of your machine. You’ll be happy you checked it out! If you don’t want to buy a Supreme Slider, you can put tissue paper underneath your project. I don’t really like doing this, because then I have to tear it away from my seam and it can dull your needle a bit. What you can do is tape the tissue paper to the bed of your machine, and then the vinyl won’t stick on the area of the bed to right or left of the needle, and you can just pay attention to the area around the feed dogs. The tissue paper basically acts as a barrier between the machine and the vinyl.
- Use a longer stitch length. This doesn’t reduce drag per se, but it does help to preserve the integrity of your vinyl. Vinyl is plastic, it is a bonded, man made fabric- it’s not woven or knitted fibers and it won’t heal. So, if you puncture it with a needle very closely, you’ll perforate it and it could tear. Use a stitch length of at least 3 or 3.5
- Don’t use a leather needle on vinyl! This is another piece of advice that the TV show gave. A leather needle has a blade-like tip that creates a large slit. This is great for leather, but on vinyl, it can create weak points. Use a “sharp” or “microtex” needle to create the smallest hole possible, while still piercing the fabric effectively.
- Use strong polyester thread. Vinyl can sort of “cut your thread” as your garment or project wears, so use something like Mettler Metrosene thread. It’s strong and durable and will withstand the stress of holding vinyl together in a garment. In fact, we use Metrosene in just about everything!
What’s the weirdest piece of sewing advice you’ve ever received? Did it work?