How to Sew Vinyl Upholstery

Updated February 21, 2017

Vinyl fabric often is called PVC fabric, or patent vinyl cloth. You may find vinyl fabric available on the market in two major varieties: two-way stretch, which is backed with polyester and is the most common, and four-way stretch, which is backed with Lycra, another synthetic fabric. To sew vinyl fabric for upholstery covers without permanently marring the textile surface, there are some precautions you must take.

Exchange the metal presser foot of your sewing machine for a Teflon one to prevent sticking. Install a No. 11 leather needle in your sewing machine, not a ball-tipped needle.

Wipe the surface of the vinyl with a slightly dampened sponge. Make sure the vinyl feels moist to the touch but is not wet. Apply a strip of water-soluble stabiliser to each of the seam lines and let it dry.

Sew the vinyl on your sewing machine with polyester thread. Use double-faced basting tape to hold pieces together during sewing instead of pins, which would leave permanent marks. When you are done sewing, wipe off the stabiliser with a wet sponge.

Make repairs by hand to vinyl upholstery pieces that will not fit your machine. Use a No. 11 needle threaded with polyester thread. Cover the area to be sewn with the stabiliser using the method previously described and remove it when you are done.


The directions of the stabiliser probably will say to apply it to fabric using an iron. Do not use an iron on vinyl fabric or it will melt. Moistening the fabric and rubbing the stabiliser onto the surface will be sufficient for adhesion.

Things You'll Need

  • Teflon presser foot
  • No. 11 needles
  • Sponge
  • Strips of water-soluble stabiliser, 3 inches wide
  • Polyester thread
  • Double-faced basting tape
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About the Author

Jourdan Townsend has been writing since childhood. Her articles appear in a collection of student works at the University of Oklahoma as well as in the school's "Honors College Journal." Townsend also composes poetry, some of which can be found in an edition of the "Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans." Townsend holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication.