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Sewing without stickiness

PVC’s rubbery texture tends to stick to metal throat plates and presser feet, making it difficult to guide the fabric through your sewing machine—that is, unless you utilize the techniques provided below.

Technique #1: Apply water-soluble stabilizer before stitching. Machine embroiderers will be familiar with this handy sewing aid. Usually sold in packages in the notions department, water-soluble stabilizer comes in both sheets and rolls, and has the feel of a featherweight interfacing. The package instructions will direct you to apply the stabilizer with a hot dry iron, but obviously this is inappropriate for PVC. Instead, wipe the vinyl side of the fabric with a damp (not wet!) sponge and press 3-inch-wide strips of stabilizer to the seamline with your fingers. Allow to air-dry completely before sewing. The result will be a lightly-tacked interfacing surface, which will glide smoothly over your machine’s metal parts. When stitching is complete, wipe stabilizer off with a sponge soaked in cold water—or simply throw your finished product in a cold water wash and hang to dry. This technique is preferable for sewing that requires a piping/cording foot, since piping feet are rarely made in Teflon.

Technique #2: Lay PVC atop tear-away stabilizer and stitch with a Teflon presser foot. For narrow seam allowances such as the 1/8 “ allowance on most glove patterns, you will need a less flexible material underneath the PVC to prevent it from stretching down through the hole in your machine’s throat plate. Lay 3-inch-wide strips of tear-away stabilizer underneath the PVC as you sew, centered under the seamline. Since there is no stabilizer on top, you’ll be able to see where you are stitching. When finished, tear away stabilizer very gently, one layer at a time, so as not to stretch the seam. This technique is especially useful for 4-way stretch PVC, which has a tendency to curl at the edges.

For both techniques, grip PVC both in front of and behind the presser foot and pull it taught while guiding it over your feed dogs. Directional stitching is highly recommended for stretchy fabrics, because it prevents an uneven hang at collars, sleeves, and skirt hems. To sew directionally, begin to sew the seam at the widest part of the pattern piece and work toward the narrow end, sewing with the grain. (Staystitching, if required, should be done the same way.) For 2-way stretch, sew a medium-length straight stitch. Contrarily, 4-way stretch requires a narrow zigzag stitch on the seamline, followed by a wide zigzag alongside the first, one 1/8” inside the seam allowance, to maintain the fabric’s give along seams. For seam treatments involving topstitching, stitch the seam with the fabric held taught, open seam allowances with fingers and/or trim allowance, then topstitch with a straight stitch, stretching fabric as you sew to avoid puckering and thread breakage.

Patent Vinyl Cloth does not ravel along cut edges, so it is not necessary to zigzag, overcast, or overlock the raw edge. However, should you choose to serge the raw edges for appearance’s sake, use a 3-thread overlock stitch with size 11 universal needles and stretch the fabric slightly

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