Tips for Using Clear Vinyl with Machine Embroidery

 Picture of machine applique car with vinyl at Sew Inspired by Bonnie

 Want to make your Car Buddies look more realistic? Use clear vinyl!

As if you think that Bonnie’s Car Buddies and Car Buddies Book could not be cuter, just add clear vinyl to the windows.

Picture of Car Buddies machine applique with clear vinyl at Sew Inspired by Bonnie

There is an applique color added after the windows stitch. Place your vinyl over the window areas and stitch, just like a regular applique.

Clear vinyl is a great medium for stitching zip bags. You can see an adorable bag here that Bonnie made with Bark Buddies on the other side.

Tips for Working With Clear Vinyl

Needle Keeper machine in-the-hoop project at Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Vinyl Weights

Clear vinyl comes in gauges: 8, 12, 16, 20. The higher the number, the thicker the vinyl. A lighter weight works fine for less dense designs but for satin stitched edges or pockets, like the Needle Keeper, a heavier weight will hold up better.

Picture of a luggage tag that was done in-the-hoop on embroidery machine at Sew Inspired by Bonnie.

For Luggage Tags or

Picture of completed in-the-hoop machine embroidered swatch pockets to take fabric samples with you to the store at Sew Inspired by Bonnie.

Swatch Pockets (an ingenous project), medium-weight vinyl may work fine. Test sews will help determine if the weight you are using is substantial enough.

Fighting Wrinkles

To flatten out any wrinkles, you can use a hair dryer. To iron, sandwich the vinyl between two pieces of cotton fabric and press on medium heat. Be sure to let it cool completely before using. When you are done, roll it into a tube to store.

Stitching Speed and Needle

Use the smallest needle possible. Standard machine embroidery needles, sizes 75/11 or 80/12 seem to work well. It is also a good idea to slow down your machine stitching speed just a bit.

Securing Vinyl in the Hoop

Don’t use spray adhesive on clear vinyl. It will just make a mess. To hold it in place, use tape or SewTites magnets outside the stitching area rather than pins.

Pins will create permanent holes. You could pin outside the stitching area if necessary, since vinyl with holes will be trimmed away.

What tips do you have for embroidering on clear vinyl?

Debbie Henry
Sew Inspired by Bonnie

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  • Bonnie Welsh - April 06, 2024

    Roberta—That sounds more like screen printing than vinyl. Regardless it sounds like your machine is having tension issues or possibly not threaded properly. If you have holes in the shirt that you can’t repair where the name goes, maybe try creating a patch with the name and putting the patch over the holes.

  • Roberta Chezik - April 06, 2024

    I’m trying to put a name on a shirt the vinyl appears painted on. I get loops on bottom with thin lines on top. I’ve ripped out the stitching and I fear I’ve messed up the shirt what di I need to do

  • Leanne Gibson - May 24, 2022

    I would remove the bobbin and clean out any fluff that could be caught and put a drop of oil in the centre of the bobbin.
    Also use a thin pipe cleaner and open the tension and try to pull the pipe cleaner threw them. But take photo of the tension to be on the safe side.
    I was told to do this on my over locker and you be amazed how much is caught in there.
    You can also use a camera lens puffer , it has a rubber bowl with a longish teat .
    If that doesn’t help see a service man. Good luck

  • Anna Cowan - May 24, 2022

    Regarding loops on bottom of vinyl, watched a video okaroots she was doing Bonnie’s twitter notebook in vinyl and she was having same problem. Her remedy was to tape a piece of mesh stabilizer to the bed of the embroidery machine with a hole cut where the needle drops. This allows the vinyl to slide and not stick which causes the loops in your thread.

  • Bonnie Welsh - May 23, 2022

    Judi—Any time you have looping on the bottom, it more than likely means something is happening on top. Check the upper threading, make sure it’s not catching on anything, and make sure you’re using the correct spool cap for your thread. You might want to take your machine in to your dealer with a sample of the heavy printed vinyl you’re using and have them show you how to make it work or adjust your machine.

  • Judi Gordon - May 23, 2022

    I sure wish there was an answer for getting loopies on the back side of the hoop when using heavier printed clear vinyl. I have tried everything… tissue paper on top under the needle and extra under the hoop. Rethreaded, top and bobbin, cleaned under throat plate and bobbin, using a 80 vinyl needle and slowed the embroidery machine down. Still loopies on the bottom 😢. Thanks for any help. Judi Gordon

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