Because my sewing is so eclectic, I sew on many different fabrics. I sew garment fabrics of all kinds, upholstery fabrics, drapery fabrics, linings, quilting fabrics: you name it, I’ve probably sewn it. Today I ran across a fabric I have never sewn before; Outdoor fabric. This has become quite a popular fabric in the last year or two. It is used for making pillows, cushions, etc. for use on decks, boats or any other outdoor applications. I came across this fabric at the request of my local nursing facility, for which I make walker bags as an ongoing charity sewing project. They provide the fabric and I provide the sewing! Anyway, some of the fabric they provided this time was Outdoor fabric. If you are planning to work with this fabric, here are a few tips that might prove helpful.
First of all, this fabric is completely synthetic. It is quite stiff to handle and it seems to fray just by looking at it! It also doesn’t particularly like the iron so I am not pressing after sewing the way I usually do when sewing a project. All Purpose construction thread seems to work just fine and an 80/12 universal needle has performed beautifully; not too light and not too heavy.
I highly recommend that all raw edges of the project be overcast before sewing together, even if the seam will be enclosed. If you fail to overcast every edge you may find the project will last only a very short time. The woven “threads” of the material are slippery against one another and have a hard time holding together. I would not recommend using pins with this fabric. I am just holding the pieces together as I sew or am using clips to secure my pieces. Needle holes will not “heal” with this fabric. Lastly, I would not recommend using a straight stitch on any seams that will have stress. I used a seam/overcast stitch on all construction areas to spread out the stress along multiple points in the seams. A straight stitch works just fine for top stitching, though you will find the thread does not sink into the fabric, but lies on top of the fabric. This is due to the nature of the fabric and is not necessarily helped by adjusting the machine’s tension. I hope these tips help you should you decide to sew Outdoor fabric.