Since the lining of my Whole Lotta Changing Bag uses laminated fabric, and you might wish to do the same, I thought it was a good time for us to take a look at this fabric and how to work with it now that we are working on the lining. I should point out that for the sewing section, I’m using a Brother NX2000 to sew with, other machines are available and may behave differently.
Laminated fabrics, sometimes known as oilcloth (although strictly speaking this only covers fabrics made waterproof with boiling linseed oil) are basically fabrics that have been coated with a substance to make them waterproof. These days most of what you find have been coated with a type of plastic, although there are different grades of coating depending on whether or not you need the fabric to be food-safe (such as for lunch bags) or baby-chewing-safe. As this series is concentrating on changing bags, I would suggest you google food safe laminate fabrics (just paste that into the search field) separately. There are a number of differing opinions on which plastics to coat your fabric with to make it food safe/child safe, and I’m not wading into that one! I’ll let you decide for yourself if you’re going to let the kid chew its changing bag.
From a strictly bag making point of view, there are a few things to think about, mainly to do with the weight of the fabric that was laminated in the first place. You can get laminated versions of some quilting fabrics, such as Saltwater by Tula Pink (I’m hoarding some of this BTW!)
But you can also get laminated versions of some home decor weight fabrics, such as this fabric that I got from Terry’s Fabrics and used on Sarah’s Pooh bag:
You can even make your own ‘real’ oilcloth, check out this post on Curbly.
The fabric you choose may make a difference when you come to sew it though…
Preparing Laminates For Sewing
With the best will in the world, you probably don’t have space to keep your laminates unfolded, so there is an inevitability that you will, at some point, have to try and remove the creases. There’s a couple of options that I’ve found to do this:
1. Use an iron, but only do this on the back of the fabric, and make sure the iron isn’t too hot or you’ll melt the laminate. Trust me, I have been that person. You can smell when it starts to melt though…
2. Use a hairdryer, again on the back of the fabric – this works best if you can hang the fabric up in some way.
If you do have to press it right side up, for example to create pocket creases, I suggest you use a pressing mat, such as this one I got from Lakeland, to protect the laminate from the iron:
Laminates And Interfacing
Can you interface laminates? Why yes, you can. For this Aeroplane bag I used Vilene H640 fusible fleece, on the main body (bus section) as I would had I been using home decor weight fabric (as this is a home decor weight laminate), but I could have added G700 Woven Fusible too if it had been a lighter weight laminate. I did use the G700 + the ultra-firm sew-in interfacing in the bottom (dotty) section, as per the pattern.
The only thing I would suggest if you are applying interfacing to laminates is that you regularly check that the coating isn’t melting, and very strictly time it, in a way you probably wouldn’t bother quite so much with with regular fabric (but that might just be me!)
Holding Laminates Together
The one thing you will need to consider when using laminates, is that if you use pins, they will leave visible holes in the fabric. You can tackle this problem 2 ways:
1. Pin in the seam allowance only.
2. Use a non-puncturing solution, such as Clover Wonder Clips, bulldog clips or even paper clips (although I’ve found paper clips don’t work on heavier weight laminates, they pop off). Wonder Clips work best for me, mainly because I find them easier to ping off when I get to them while sewing, but I realise that they’re not cheap, so if you want some, keep an eye out for sales!
When I’m sewing laminates right sides together, I don’t have a problem sewing with my regular foot/settings, but when they come to right sides out, then it needs a bit of a rethink!
Laminate + Fabric Combo
If I have one side regular fabric, and one side laminate, such as on the flap on the changing bag, if I have the laminate side down when going through the machine, it runs through fine without changing settings. This is something you probably want to test though, as it seems to depend on the slippy-ness of your machine bed, and how good your feed dogs are. Give it a quick run through with a couple of scraps to see how it goes
Laminate + Laminate Combo
This is where I have found that my machine behaves differently depending on the fabric weight.
With lightweight laminates, such as the Tula Pink above, I find a Teflon foot works well:
I picked this generic foot up on Amazon a couple of years ago for about £5, however I don’t find it works on the home decor weight laminates. I’m not sure if they’re ‘stickier’ or what, but it just doesn’t budge across the fabric for me.
For heavier weight laminates, it’s time to break out… the tissue paper.
I use sheets of tissue paper that come in shoe boxes and the like (or I suppose you could buy it, but I just get my family to supply me ;o) ) Wrap this around the area that needs to be sewn. In the photo above, I’m doing the top stitching along the top edge of a pocket, so it’s wrapped round about 1″ to the other side, and held in place with Clover Wonder Clips so that I don’t have any pins making holes in the fabric.
Once you’ve finished stitching, gently tear along the perforations made by the stitching:
It should be easy to remove, but take my advice, and make sure the tissue is similar in colour to the laminate you’re sewing, otherwise you’ll find out just how many teeny wee bits are left behind in the stitching, and it will take ages to wipe it all out. I used red on this bag. Don’t do that.
Finally I should say that I’ve also heard of people coating the bottom of their regular machine foot with tissue and/or tape, but this has never worked for me. Give it a go though, it might for you :o)
I hope this helps, but if you have any questions, please let me know!