Have you ever sewn with laminated fabric? Laminates are 100% cotton and covered with a polyurethane coating. They are usually 54” wide instead of the normal 42” of 44”. Several years ago, Westminster/Free Spirit Fabrics started offering laminate fabrics with many of their lines, and now many other manufacturers do as well. [This is Anna Maria Horner’s Summer Totem print–a favorite!]
I have primarily used laminate fabric for simple projects–splat mats, bibs, and summer cell phone pouches that can be tossed in my pool back. The laminate fabric is water resistant and easy to wipe clean, but I probably wouldn’t throw it in the pool. Still, it keeps my phone and keys dry during the summer. Additionally, laminated fabric is a safer alternative to traditional oilcloth, which isn’t recommended for use in anything that comes in contact with kids or food (as far as I understand). Laminate fabrics don’t contain pthalates, vinyl, or PVC.
A few weeks ago, I tried out Fusible Vinyl–this particular brand (Vinyl Fuse) is made by Pellon. It is SUCH a great concept–fuse vinyl to your favorite fabric and voila! Your favorite fabric is now a laminate-like fabric. I made a zipper pouch as a test project, and made sure to cut my pieces of fabric and vinyl bigger than I actually wanted them, so I could trim them to exact size later.
I was disappointed in the results–the vinyl fuses nicely, the product instructions are well written, but at least in my opinion, the finished coated fabric feels cheap. It doesn’t drape well, it wrinkles really easily (and stays wrinkled), and the pouch I made makes a crackling sound when you touch it. Perhaps it would work well in a project that isn’t going to be wrinkled/folded/bent/used heavily. Linsday Rhodes has a great tutorial for a Cosmetics Case using Vinyl Fuse — it would work well with laminates, too.
Sewing Tips when working with laminates
Laminates drape nicely, but choose projects with simple lines. Pleats, ruffles, and other small details (mostly) get lost in the laminate.
Pins and needles leave holes in the fabric that don’t “heal” like traditional cotton. Pin in the seam allowances, and try to sew straight the first time 😉 Alternately, I’ve used wonder clips to hold layers together.
Experiment on a sample project first– a zipper pouch is a great first project
Use a walking foot if you have one. Alternately, I put a piece of wax paper on top of the laminate fabric, just to the right of my needle. It helped my regular piecing foot glide across the fabric, but I didn’t have to sew through the paper (and remove it later).
Store the fabric on a roll instead of folding it–it will prevent creasing.
You can iron laminated fabric on the WRONG side and a low setting; I finger press my seams and have been satisfied with the results, knowing that the coated fabric doesn’t lay quite as flat as cotton.
Some people recommend washing and drying laminated fabric–so far, I have been able to get my projects clean wiping the fabric with soap and water. [Kathy from Pink Chalk has tips for sewing laminated cotton, including thoughts on washing and drying the fabric.]
Additional Resources & Tutorials for Laminated Cotton
Do you have any other tips? Or favorite projects you have made with laminate? I’d love to see them!