FAQ Series, Tips and Tricks to Sewing with Jelly, PVC and TPU Vinyls

FAQ Series, Tips and Tricks to Sewing with Jelly, PVC and TPU Vinyls

FAQ Series, Tips and Tricks to Sewing with Jelly, PVC and TPU Vinyls

The Clean Stitch Center Zip Zipper Bag in (Size 3 Zipper and Size 5 Zipper) was designed specifically to be unlined and used with vinyl. One fun option you might want to try when making this bag is using jelly vinyl, TPU vinyl, or PVC vinyl. Let’s dive into the details of each of these different types of vinyl!

 In a hurry? Read the highlights below first!

General Helpful Tips

-Start small. We highly suggest beginning with the smallest size bag to see how your machine will handle the vinyl you choose for this bag. Keep in mind that not all vinyl or embroidery machines will behave the same. Depending on the supplier, the printed design, the thickness, and the density of the vinyl, you may have no issues at all, or you might encounter a few issues with jelly, TPU, or PVC vinyl when making this in-the-hoop bag. 

-Lower embroidery foot height. During testing, most found it helpful to lower the embroidery foot to one “click” below the standard height. (Refer to your particular embroidery machine settings to learn if your embroidery machine has an adjustable embroidery foot height.) 

-Go slow and stay close. For best results, slow down your machine to its slowest speed. It is also recommended to stay close to your machine while making this bag. Working with these specific types of vinyls can be a little challenging and if your machine isn’t a fan of the vinyl you have on hand, you want to be right there to stop it if something goes awry. 

-75/11 needle size. During testing we tried 75/11, 80/12, 90/14, and 100/16 embroidery needles with jelly, TPU, and PVC vinyl and found that the best results were when using a standard 75/11 embroidery needle.

Some multi-needle embroidery machines don’t like jelly or TPU vinyl. Jen tested this bag on her multi-needle machine and for some reason, it just didn’t like the jelly vinyl or TPU vinyl. However, Julie had no issues on her industrial Bernina multi-needle.

Some single-needle embroidery machines don’t like jelly or TPU vinyl either. Some POP testers found that their single needle machines had no issues with jelly or TPU vinyl while others experienced thread shredding and looping on the backside when using these two types of vinyl. Depending on the particular jelly or TPU vinyl you try and the machine you have, you may not experience any difficulties at all!

2 layers of clean tear-away stabilizer- This is super important! You want to use a nice clean tear-away stabilizer particularly if using a clear vinyl for this bag. By “clean” we mean a tear-away stabilizer that doesn’t leave “fuzzies” behind after tearing. Testers found that adding two layers of tear-away seemed to be helpful as well. 

Jen's recommended stabilizer is Tear-Easy by Sulky. Found on their website HERE and on Amazon HERE

Heat is your friend. Once you’ve completed your bag, you’re definitely going to want to warm up the vinyl (no matter which type you use) with your hair dryer first before trying to turn it. Use low heat and don’t do it for too long of course, but it will turn much easier if it is warmed up! 


Jelly Vinyl 

Jelly vinyl is soft, has a smooth, matte texture, and is quite pliable. Most jelly vinyl can be described as “frosted” and comes in many different beautiful solid colors. Jelly vinyl is not transparent, but you can see the silhouette of what is inside of a bag that is made out of it. 

Below are some helpful tips for making the Clean Stitch with jelly vinyl:

-Not all colors are created equal. During testing for the POP Clean Stitch Bag, it was discovered that certain colors of jelly vinyl can be a little more temperamental than others, even when purchased from the same supplier. Some machines are happier with jelly vinyl than others, and some colors are more challenging to use than others most likely due to the amount of pigment used to create certain colors. For example, during testing, hot pink jelly vinyl was more challenging to use than neon orange jelly vinyl. 

-Not all jelly vinyl is the same. You may find jelly vinyl purchased from one supplier works much better for your machine than vinyl purchased from another supplier. As with all vinyl, you’ll just have to experiment a little bit to see what works or doesn’t work for you and your embroidery machine.


TPU Vinyl 

TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane) vinyl is very pliable and not rigid. Based on our research, many suppliers of vinyl for sewing and embroidery use TPU vinyl. Most often, TPU vinyl is clear or tinted with printed designs on it. If you hold up a sheet or roll of TPU vinyl, you will notice that the vinyl easily unrolls and is very flexible. If you lay it on top of your hand, it will drape around the edges of your hand with ease. When trying to lightly “crinkle” TPU vinyl, you’ll see when you let go that it bounces back into a flat piece quickly and easily. While this type of vinyl tends to be very pretty to look at, it can pose some challenges with making this particular bag. However, some types of TPU vinyl are a little more rigid and those actually performed better than the more flexible, very pliable TPU vinyls during testing. 

Below are some helpful tips for making the POP Clean Stitch Bag with TPU vinyl:

-Thickness matters. Most TPU vinyl based on our research ranges in thickness from 0.35mm-0.5mm. Staying within this range of thickness is suggested. 

-Try a more “rigid” TPU. When trying to make this bag completely with TPU, testers found that it was easier with a slightly more stiff or rigid TPU. If you roll up your TPU vinyl and it wants to unroll easily and quickly, it may pose a little bit of a challenge for you if trying to make the front and back with the same vinyl. We found that if your TPU vinyl feels a little more stiff and it holds its shape when rolled up pretty well, it's more likely to give you less trouble. 

-Consider a combination. If your TPU vinyl is very pliable like the rainbow with holographic stars vinyl seen in the picture to the left, you might want to consider using a different type of vinyl for the back/bottom of your bag. TPU seems to do well with the first part of this bag (attaching the two sides of the bag to the zipper with a bean stitch). Some embroidery machines seem to struggle when trying to add the third and final piece of TPU vinyl to the front of the hoop for the final step. (Some testers experienced looping of the thread on the back side of the hoop when trying this.) Another option is using TPU vinyl for the front of your bag and choosing a jelly vinyl or typical embroidery-friendly vinyl (usually with a fuzzy soft, white backing) for the third piece of vinyl which will be the back/bottom of your bag. (Remember to place it right-side DOWN, wrong side UP (facing you) for the final step if the vinyl you choose has a right/wrong side.)  See pictures below for examples of two bags made combining TPU vinyl with different vinyls for the bottom/back of the bag. 

Clean Stitch Bag made using clear TPU vinyl with white hearts for the front, and jelly vinyl for the bottom/back. 




Clean Stitch Bag made using rainbow with holographic stars TPU vinyl for the front, and a white iridescent vinyl for the bottom/back. (On the inside of this bag when opened, you can see the fuzzy white backing of the white iridescent vinyl used for the bottom/back.) 


PVC Vinyl 

Completely clear vinyls are often made with PVC (polyvinyl chloride). This type of vinyl can be described as more rigid, and typically less pliable than jelly or TPU vinyl. Clear PVC vinyl is what you may find at a big box sewing store on large rolls in the sewing department. Some vinyl suppliers for bag making may also use PVC vinyl. If searching for vinyl to purchase for making this bag, we suggest reaching out to the supplier you choose and asking if it is PVC or TPU. PVC vinyl in general is less pliable and more rigid than TPU vinyl. If you try to “crinkle” PVC vinyl, you’ll find that it will not bounce back as easily as TPU vinyl. PVC vinyl maintains its shape a little more and tends to be less flexible than TPU (which actually turns out to be a good thing for making this new POP bag as long as you heat it up before turning!)

Below are some helpful tips for making the POP Clean Stitch Bag with PVC vinyl:

-Gauge matters. Use 12 gauge PVC (thickness measurement for vinyl) for best results for this bag. Any gauge higher than that will make this bag too difficult to turn.

-Turn up the heat. It was mentioned earlier that heat is your friend when making this bag, but that is especially important to remember if you choose to use PVC vinyl. Before turning your bag, heat it up on low heat with your hair dryer or maybe even toss it in your clothes dryer on low heat for a minute (just don’t forget it’s in there!)

Get creative with your vinyl combinations and most importantly…HAVE FUN!



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