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6 best tips ever for sewing with vinyl

by Christine Baker

Yesterday on QUILTsocial I showed you how to use the sideways stitching feature on the NQ900 to sew handles onto our selvage project bag and today we’re going to finish that bag by adding vinyl pockets. Don’t worry if you’ve previously struggled with sewing materials like this, because today I’ve got 6 useful tips for sewing with vinyl.

The NQ900 sewing machine from Brother.

The NQ900

Vinyl Tip 1

It’s easier to cut and sew with vinyl if it is FLAT. If you’re like me and sometimes shove things into a cupboard without thinking about it, you may end up with wrinkled vinyl like this:

If not stored properly, vinyl will wrinkle and be hard to flatten.

The wrinkled vinyl

You can’t iron your vinyl flat, so put it on top of your cutting board and use a hairdryer to heat it up – it will flatten out nicely!

Blowing a hairdryer on the vinyl helps to remove the wrinkles.

A hairdryer removes the wrinkles

Vinyl Tip 2

Vinyl is SLIPPERY. Especially when you’re trying to cut it on your cutting board. In order to keep it from moving, roll up a couple of pieces of LOW TACK tape (like painter’s tape) and put it under two corners of the vinyl. Take it from me – DON’T use packing tape or scotch tape as they will leave a sticky residue on your vinyl that is impossible to remove!

For this project, use the markings on the cutting mat and cut the vinyl into a rectangle that is 13″ x 22″.

A roll of painter's tape helps to prevent the vinyl from sliding on the cutting board.

A piece of painter’s tape keeps the vinyl from sliding.

Vinyl Tip 3

Cover any edges that won’t be encased in a seam, with a trim of fabric. This will reinforce the edges AND make them less sharp to your hands. For this project, I cut two pieces of fabric 2″ x 14″ and double folded them lengthwise (and pressed) so that the raw edges were folded into the middle of the strip.

The fabric strip is double folded prior to sewing it onto the edges of the vinyl pockets.

Double folding the trim for the pockets

I then slipped these fabric strips over the short edges of my vinyl rectangle and topstitched them using the “J” foot of my NQ900 sewing machine.

The trim on the vinyl is top stitched with the NQ900 sewing machine.

Top stitching the trim on the vinyl

Vinyl Tip 4

Use clips to keep everything together when sewing! You can’t pin the vinyl, unless you do it right in the seam allowance, because it leaves holes in the material. Clever Clips from Unique work really well for holding everything in place securely!

Using clips to keep everything together

Using clips to keep everything together

Vinyl Tip 5

Use painter’s tape to mark where your sewing lines will go. You can sew right along the edge and then easily remove the tape.

For this project, I measured in 13″ from one of the ends to find the center of the bag and marked the line with painter’s tape.

Painter's tape and a rotary cutting ruler are used to mark the center of the vinyl.

Marking the center of the vinyl

Vinyl Tip 6

Use a NON STICK foot on your sewing machine. Who knew that these even existed??? The NQ900 non stick foot is a plastic foot with a special coating on the bottom that can be used with leathers or vinyl fabrics.

The back of the non stick foot for the NQ900 sewing machine.

The back of the non stick foot

I couldn’t believe how wonderfully this foot worked for sewing the vinyl on this project! I’ve tried in the past to sew vinyl with my old sewing machine and found it so frustrating!! This foot didn’t stick at all.

I sewed a straight line across the center of the vinyl to divide it into two separate pockets and then removed the painter’s tape.

Sewing across the vinyl with the non stick foot

Sewing across the vinyl with the non stick foot

Our bag is almost finished!!

Sew the binding to the inside of the bag along all four sides. If you would like more information about sewing on binding, check out Elaine’s QUILTsocial post from April 2015 where she walks you through step by step instructions.

Now, fold the binding to the OUTSIDE of the bag and use your pins or clips to hold it in place.

Now here’s another one of my favorite features of the NQ900. I discovered this by accident this month when I made six baby quilts and many table runners and placemats and had miles of binding to sew on.

I decided to do all of the stitching by machine instead of doing any of it by hand and decided to use the “P” group of stitches – the ones that are used for piecing. You can alternate between stitch 29 (which gives you a ¼” seam) and stitch 30 (which stitches in the center of the foot) without having to switch the foot.

The greatest thing though is that when you use the “J” foot with stitch 30 to top stitch the binding on the front of the quilt, the needle is in the center of the foot BUT the open part of the foot is off to the left side (so the folded edge of your binding doesn’t get caught in it) AND the clear plastic part of the foot makes it incredibly easy to see what you’re stitching!!

The binding is sewn to the back of the bag and then folded to the front and top stitched with the NQ900 sewing machine.

Top stitching the binding on the front of the bag

Continue stitching all the way around the bag.

The binding on the bag is top stitched all the way around with the NQ900 sewing machine.

Close up of top stitched binding

Your bag is now finished!!

You can slip all of your hand stitching (or punchneedle) supplies into the large clear vinyl pockets.

The project bag opens up to expose two large vinyl pockets perfect for carrying hand stitching supplies.

The open bag

Fold the bag in half and secure the turn clasp and you’re ready to go wherever your travels take you!

The finished selvage bag is folded up and the turn clasp is secured.

The finished selvage bag

I’ve had so much fun this week making this selvage project tote with my NQ900 sewing machine and I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how I did it. As you’ve seen, the NQ900 from Brother has so many great features that make sewing and quilting easy and enjoyable! Join me again next month when I’ll make another project with my new sewing machine.

This is part 5 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 4: 1 easy way to sew handles to a tote bag



Cynthia MacDougall May 11, 2019 - 8:03 am

This is awesome information! I’ve tagged it for future reference!

Mary Glahn October 2, 2018 - 5:10 pm

Is a longer stitch length needed for sewing vinyl? Would a shorter stitch length cause the vinyl to tear? Special needles? By the way, I really like your tip about using the blow dryer to get rid of wrinkles!

Laura June 14, 2018 - 1:56 am

Thanks for the tips! Sure helps with our confidence levels. Very helpful!

Sheryl Bowman June 15, 2017 - 2:32 pm

I’d love to make vinyl bags for gifts, and found a great pattern, but whenever I turn it inside out, it mars and dents the vinyl , making it unsightly. I tried a lighter weight vinyl but still had the problem. How can it be turned inside out without damaging it?


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