There are so many types of faux leather/vinyl on the market. This material is used for upholstery so it is widely available in big fabric stores, in the home decor department. If you want to buy it online, try on Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, Joann, Fabric.com.
It comes in different thicknesses and obvious, the thicker ones produce more bulk and it is harder to sew with them- it depends on the capabilities of your sewing machine.
It also comes in different patterns. Some look simple, like these ones:
Other patterns are more complicated and these are great for simple bags…
like the one below.
The back could have a knitted or felt like backing, or a polyester mesh finishing.
If you are at your first try, you should make a simple tote bag; if you want something fancier, you can piece faux leather and make a beautiful pattern.
Recommended presser feet
The problem with faux leather is that it doesn’t glide under the presser foot as easily as other fabrics. This problem is easy to solve, especially if you are a quilter. The solution is the walking foot. This is the only foot I use for sewing faux leather and it does an amazing job!
You have this problem when the faux leather touches the presser foot, so actually when you topstitch. For a really simple bag, the construction is easy as you usually topstitch only on straps and around the top edge of the bag.
With the walking foot topstitching works great and it does not scare me; the piece below is strip pieced from 1 1/2” wide strips.
The reason for all this topstitching is that you can’t press the seams open with an iron so wherever possible, I do this to keep the seam allowances down and the seams flat.
If the walking foot is not enough, there are other feet that are helpful: a roller foot or a teflon foot.
Length of stitch
You have to increase the size of the stitch when sewing faux leather to 3.0 or 3.5 mm or even more. The increased stitch makes feeding the faux leather through the machine easier and the longer stitch looks beautiful. You have to avoid sewing with short stitches, as it weakens the material.
A 3.5 mm stitching looks different done on faux leather and on cotton, as example (because they feed differently under the foot), so you have to do a test first on a scrap.
Thread for sewing on faux leather
For sewing bags a polyester thread is recommended as it is stronger than cotton.
For topstitching, a heavier thread (30wt or 40wt) than your regular thread makes a beautiful stitching. It is possible to sew even with a 12wt thread, I will show you how in the next post of this series.
Finally – the needle!
Jeans needles are the only ones I use for the assembly of the bag and for topstitching. If I use heavy thread, I use a large needle.
Pattern for all these bags here.
I hope you will try sewing faux leather!
PS. Tomorrow I will post the second part of this series: How to add texture to faux leather/vinyl.