Today let’s talk tips for sewing laminated fabric. Ah, laminated fabric–it’s so useful for making things that need a little waterproof barrier between them and the world.
But that plasticky coating can be a real pain in the neck when you go to sew it. If you’ve ever dealt with the annoyance of fabric that sticks to the bed of your machine while you’re working with it, you know what I’m talking about.
So whether you’re dealing with sewing oilcloth or lighter weight laminated cotton, or maybe you’ve tried to make your own laminated fabric, here are some tips that’ll keep you from chucking it across the room when it starts sliding around on you!
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Use a rotary cutter
Tip #1 for sewing laminated fabric? Use a rotary cutter. The plastic coating is going to shift all over the place on you at every stage. When you’re cutting out, if your fabric starts sliding, you know that you’re going to get pieces that aren’t accurate.
To get nice clean, accurate cutting with oilcloth or laminated fabric, lay out your fabric in a single layer on top of a rotary cutting mat. I mentioned this in my guide to sewing efficiently, but if you can, a large rotary mat can be a huge help in not have to shift your pieces around during cutting so that they’re under the mat.
When you’re set up, place your pattern pieces on top of your fabric and weigh them down with pattern weights. From there, you can grab your rotary cutter and get to cutting out your laminated fabric. This is my favorite rotary cutter.
Needles for laminated fabrics
You’ll need a little heavier needle for sewing laminated fabrics. For regular quilting cotton, I usually use a 70/10 Universal needle.
Since the plastic coating adds a little bit more weight to the fabric, try a slightly bigger 80/12 Universal for laminated cotton. Microtex needles are another option. They are super sharp and can help punch through all that plasticness. Try a Microtex in size 80/12.
If you’re sewing oilcloth which is slightly heavier than laminated cottons, bump up your needle size to a 90/14 or 100/16 in Universal or Microtex needles.
Sewing machine foot for laminated fabrics
You might have problem with your standard sewing machine foot sticking to the laminated fabric as you’re sewing.
Switch to a teflon, or roller foot. I know people love their walking feet, and that’s a good choice here. I typically use an ultra glide foot for laminated fabrics on my Janome. Here’s a universal ultra glide foot for other machines.
I made a little video with a tip for modifying your regular sewing machine foot for sewing laminated fabrics, but I’m adding that exclusively to my Resource Library. You can sign up to get the password for that below!
Don’t use pins for laminated fabrics!
While I’ll always always advise you to sew without pins, this is one time when you really need to do so.
Pins will leave holes in the plastic which is no good. If you do pin, pin only inside of the seam allowance.
Better yet, use wonder clips or binder clips to hold pattern pieces together.
What if my laminated fabric sticks to the machine?
It’s really common for any coated fabric to stick to the bed of the machine. With laminated fabrics, the wrong side of the fabric will not stick.
As you’re working on a project with laminated fabrics, if you find yourself working with the plastic side down, here’s what you can do to keep it from sticking.
Place a piece of tissue paper under the fabric. It’ll keep the fabric moving smoothly on top of the feed dogs.
Lengthen your stitch
With every stitch you sew on a laminated fabric, you are making a hole. Just like with pins, those holes aren’t coming out and they can potentially weaken a seam.
Whatever your standard stitch length is on your sewing machine, lengthen it to 3.5mm.
Don’t topstitch on the raw laminated fabric. It can stretch out and look really bad. Instead of topstitching, you can use bias tape binding for edges and topstitch on that.
How to press laminated fabrics
You can finger press the seams on laminated fabrics or use a leather roller. A weight of a leather roller can help you press those coated fabrics without having to worry about melting the fabric.
That being said, you might still be able to get away with actually pressing laminated fabrics. Test on a scrap and press on a low heat on the wrong side only and use a press cloth just for safety sake. Melting fabrics is a sad sad time in the sewing room!
So those are my tips for sewing with laminated fabrics. If you’ve never worked with this kind of fabric before, definitely give it a go!
Show me more sewing tips!:
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Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.