How To Sew Nylon Fabric

Sewing nylon fabric can be a bit challenging due to its slippery texture and lightweight nature, but with the right techniques and tools, you can achieve professional-looking results. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to sew nylon fabric successfully.

Materials and Tools


Follow these steps to sew nylon fabric:

1. Prepare Your Fabric

Wash and iron your nylon fabric before you start sewing. This step helps remove any creases, wrinkles, or sizing chemicals that may be present. Be cautious not to use high heat as nylon can melt or distort under excessive heat.

2. Choose the Right Needle and Thread

Select a size 70/10 or 80/12 universal or ballpoint needle for your sewing machine. Thread your machine with nylon thread that matches your fabric’s color. Wind the bobbin with the same thread.

3. Adjust Sewing Machine Settings

Set your sewing machine to a medium stitch length (around 2.5 mm) and a moderate tension. It’s a good idea to test the stitch on a scrap piece of nylon fabric before you start on your main project.

4. Pin or Clip Fabric Layers

Use fine pins or sewing clips to secure the fabric layers together. Be cautious not to place pins too close to the edge, as they may leave permanent holes in the nylon.

5. Sew with Care

Start sewing slowly and steadily, guiding the fabric with both hands. Use a light touch and avoid stretching the fabric. If you experience fabric slippage, consider using a walking foot attachment for your sewing machine.

6. Backstitch at the Beginning and End

Always backstitch at the beginning and end of your seams to secure the stitches and prevent unraveling.

7. Press Seams and Hems

After sewing, press your seams and hems using a low to medium heat setting on your iron. Use a pressing cloth or a piece of scrap fabric between the iron and the nylon to avoid melting or scorching.

8. Handle Delicate Areas

If your project involves delicate areas like curves or corners, take your time and make small, precise stitches. You may also use tailor’s chalk or washable fabric markers to mark sewing guidelines.

9. Finish Edges

To prevent fraying, consider finishing the edges of your nylon fabric. Options include using a serger, overlock stitch, or applying a seam sealant.

10. Troubleshooting

If you make mistakes or encounter issues, don’t hesitate to use a seam ripper to undo stitches and try again. Practice and patience will help you improve your sewing skills on nylon fabric.

11. Seam Finishing Options

When working with nylon fabric, it’s essential to finish your seams to prevent fraying. Here are a few seam finishing options you can consider:

  • Zigzag Stitch: Use a zigzag stitch along the raw edges of your fabric. This is a quick and effective way to prevent fraying. Adjust the zigzag width and length to your preference.
  • Serging: If you have a serger (overlock machine), it’s an excellent choice for finishing nylon seams. Sergers create clean, professional-looking edges and are ideal for stretchy fabrics like nylon spandex.
  • Seam Tape: Seam tape is a narrow strip of fabric with adhesive on one side. You can sandwich it between your fabric layers and then sew your seam. When you press the seam open, the tape will prevent fraying.
  • French Seams: For a neat and enclosed finish, consider using French seams. This technique is especially suitable for lightweight nylon fabrics. It involves sewing the seam with wrong sides together first, trimming the seam allowance, and then sewing the seam again with right sides together, enclosing the raw edges.

12. Handling Elastic and Stretchy Nylon

If you’re working with nylon fabric that has stretch, such as nylon spandex, you’ll need to make some adjustments:

  • Stretch Needle: Consider using a stretch or ballpoint needle designed for knit fabrics. These needles have a rounded tip that helps prevent skipped stitches on stretchy fabric.
  • Elastic Thread: When sewing elastic seams or hems, you can use elastic thread in your bobbin. This creates a stretchy, gathered effect. Wind the bobbin by hand to avoid overstretching the elastic thread.
  • Walking Foot: A walking foot attachment can be especially helpful when working with stretchy nylon. It feeds the fabric evenly through the machine, preventing puckering and stretching.

13. Be Mindful of Heat

Nylon fabric is sensitive to high heat, which can cause melting or distortion. When pressing your seams and hems, use a low to medium heat setting on your iron. Always test the heat on a scrap piece of fabric first to ensure it won’t damage your project.

14. Selecting the Right Stitch

Depending on your project, you may need to choose a specific stitch. For most nylon fabrics, a straight stitch or a narrow zigzag stitch works well. However, if you’re working on activewear or swimwear, consider using a stretch stitch or a triple straight stitch for added durability.

15. Practice and Patience

Sewing nylon fabric can be challenging, especially if you’re new to it. Don’t be discouraged by initial difficulties. Practice on scrap pieces of fabric to get a feel for the material and to fine-tune your sewing machine settings. Over time, you’ll become more comfortable and skilled at working with nylon.

16. Cleaning and Care

After completing your nylon fabric project, follow the care instructions on the fabric label. In general, nylon fabrics are relatively easy to care for and can often be machine washed on a gentle or delicate cycle. Avoid using high heat in the dryer, as this can cause shrinking or damage to the fabric.

By following these additional tips and techniques, you’ll be better prepared to handle the unique challenges of sewing nylon fabric. Remember that practice and patience are key to mastering any sewing skill, and with time, you’ll become proficient at creating beautiful garments and accessories with nylon.

Basic Sewing Supplies

ItemDescriptionPurposeRecommendationsSafety Precautions
Nylon ThreadStrong, durable thread designed for nylon fabricTo sew the fabric togetherPolyester or nylon threadHandle with care
Sewing MachineElectric or manual machine for stitchingEfficient and precise sewingChoose the appropriate modelRead the user manual
Ballpoint NeedleRounded needle tip for knit and stretch fabricsPrevents snags and damage to nylon fibersSize 70/10 or 80/12Replace when dull
Fabric ScissorsSharp, clean-cutting scissors for nylonCutting fabric pieces accuratelyStainless steel or titaniumKeep away from children
Pins and ClipsHold fabric layers together during sewingSecuring fabric and preventing shiftingGlass-head pins or clipsUse with caution

Nylon Fabric Types

Fabric TypeDescriptionCharacteristicsCommon UsesSewing Tips
Ripstop NylonLightweight, durable, woven nylon fabricResists tears and ripsOutdoor gear, tents, sailsUse a longer stitch length
Nylon SpandexStretchy nylon blend with spandexExcellent elasticityActivewear, swimwear, lingerieUse a ballpoint needle
Nylon TaffetaSmooth, lightweight, shiny nylon fabricCrisp, glossy appearanceEvening gowns, raincoatsUse a fine needle
Nylon RipknitKnitted nylon fabric with a textured surfaceSoft, breathable, and stretchySportswear, activewearUse a stretch or ballpoint needle
Cordura NylonHeavy-duty, abrasion-resistant nylon fabricTough and long-lastingBackpacks, luggage, upholsteryUse a strong nylon thread

Sewing Machine Settings

Sewing Machine SettingDescriptionAdjustment GuidelinesStitch LengthTension Settings
Stitch TypeSelect the appropriate stitch typeStraight stitch or zigzag for nylon2.5 – 3.0 mmAdjust as needed
Thread TensionAdjust the thread tension for balanced seamsBalance the upper and lower tensionAuto or 2-3Varies by machine model
Needle PositionPosition the needle for seam allowanceCenter position for most seamsCenterCenter position for most fabrics
Presser Foot PressureRegulate the pressure on the presser footLight pressure for delicate fabricsLight to mediumAdjust as needed
Feed DogsControl the feed dog height and movementEngage for regular sewingEngagedVaries by fabric thickness

Sewing Techniques

TechniqueDescriptionUseTips and TricksCommon Mistakes
BackstitchingSewing backward and forward at the beginning and end of a seamReinforce seamsMaintain tension while backstitchingSkipping backstitching
TopstitchingStitching visible on the fabric’s right sideDecorative or securing purposesUse a longer stitch length for a clean lookUneven stitching
UnderstitchingStitching fabric layers together, hidden on the wrong sidePrevents facings from rolling outUse a narrow seam allowanceVisible understitching
Seam FinishingMethods to prevent fabric frayingEnhances durability and appearanceChoose the appropriate finishInadequate finishing
GatheringCreating gathers or pleats in the fabricAdds fullness or decorative elementsUse a longer stitch length and strong threadUneven gathering

Care and Maintenance

Maintenance TaskDescriptionFrequencyTips and RecommendationsTroubleshooting
Cleaning and DustingRemoving lint and debris from the machineAfter each sewing sessionUse a brush or compressed airThread jams or uneven stitches
Oil and LubricationApplying oil to keep the machine running smoothlyEvery 8-10 hours of useFollow the machine manualExcessive oil or residue
Needle ReplacementChanging needles to maintain sewing qualityAfter 8-10 hours of useUse the right needle typeBroken needles or skipped stitches
Thread ReplacementReplacing the thread spool when it’s lowAs neededMatch the thread to the projectThread breakage or knots
Troubleshooting IssuesIdentifying and resolving sewing machine problemsAs neededRefer to the user manualSeek professional help if needed

By following these steps and practicing your sewing techniques, you can confidently work with nylon fabric and create beautiful, durable projects. Remember that nylon can be forgiving with practice, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries to get the hang of it.

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