What Vinyl Should I Use For Bag Making?
What’s the difference between vinyl, faux leather and vegan leather and how do I use them for bag making?
First, let’s look at the differences
These terms tend to be used generally and interchangeably, but these fabrics are not all created equal.
Here’s a breakdown of the differences:
Vinyl is an abbreviation of PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride and is a thermoplastic fabric. It is a durable and stable fabric and tends to be slightly thicker than other faux leathers.
PU faux leather. PU is an abbreviation of Polyurethane. PU leather is an artificial leather and is also made of thermoplastic polymer. It can be purchased in various thicknesses, is flexible and can be made to imitate leather exceedingly well.
Vegan Leather can be either of the above, however you may want to check when you purchase it, that the supplier can guarantee it as vegan leather. Some PUs and PVCs can contain small amounts of real leather.
What is the best Faux leather for my bag making project?
Vinyl fabric tends to be a little stiffer and mostly requires little or no interfacing. (See the article
‘How do I interface vinyl and PU faux leathers when sewing a bag?”).
Vinyl also often has minimal sideways stretch which means that you can be less fussy about positioning your pattern for cutting. (Bear in mind that directional fabric will always dictate how you cut).
It is great for projects that require structure, such as stand-alone tote bags or hand bags. Depending on the thickness and flexibility it may be unsuitable for smaller projects such as wallets and sharp corners on a bag may cause stress faults where the fabric bends and you see a whitening of the colour.
It makes a great contrast accent on a pouch where you don’t necessarily need to turn the edges under, like the Poppie Pouch below.
Vinyl, is also usually easy to sew, even on a domestic sewing machine, however you may be limited by how many layers your machine can sew through and also how much lift there is under your pressure foot.
Vinyl - Imitation Ostrich
PU faux leather
PU faux leather is often a thinner texture than PVC vinyl, and usually has a sideways stretch. It is used extensively in the clothing industry because it often has good draping qualities. This makes it perfect for slouchy style bags.
The sideways stretch can be minimised by interfacing with a medium weight woven fusible interfacing such as Pellon SF101 or Birch Shape to Create.
PU leather can also have a stroke-able soft buttery feel, making it a lovely choice for clutch bags, handbags etc.
PU Faux Leather
PU leather can be a little more of a challenge to sew depending on your sewing machine. This can be because of the stretchiness of the fabric or it may be slippery or even sticky on your machine bed.
An industrial sewing machine will have no problems, but if you are using a domestic sewing machine use a walking foot where possible.
Tips for sewing Vinyl and PU faux leathers in bag making
How do I interface vinyl and PU faux leathers when sewing a bag
Care for vinyl and PU faux leather