Here in the US (I'm not sure about other countries) vinyl is sold by the yard and it comes on 54" wide roll. Vinyl comes in different weights, ranging from 4 gauge (the very lightest I found, which is the thickness of a really cheap shower curtain) to 20 gauge (which is pretty thick).
I tested 8 gauge vinyl for the pattern and I found it to be a little bit wimpy. It could work in a pinch, but it was too thin for my tastes.
I tried 12 and 16 gauge vinyl and those both worked beautifully! There is a little bit of heft to it, but not overly thick and pretty easy to sew through. 12 or 16 gauge is what I recommend for the pattern. Easy to use, but sturdy enough to hold up over repeated use.
I also made at least one bag with 20 gauge vinyl, which worked, but that stuff is pretty thick! After making several WIP bags, the thickness didn't phase me, but if you are just starting out, it might be a little intimidating.
I purchased vinyl at JoAnn's and at my store it ranged in price from $4.99-$8.99/yard.
My local Wal-Mart also carries vinyl on the roll (sometimes referred to as clear table covering) in the craft section, but they don't specify the gauge anywhere on their product. (Because why would it be that easy, right?) I tried 3 of their products, Heavy Weight Clear, Clear Vinyl Premium and Super Weight Clear. If I had to guess, I would say that they would be 12, 16 and 20 gauge respectively. That's just a guess! All of them worked well for the pattern. At my store, the prices ranged from $2.97-$4.77, which is significantly cheaper than JoAnn's and no coupons needed! But, finding someone to cut it might be a little tricky.
I had some vinyl on hand that I used as well. It had been rolled up, folded up and shoved in the back of a closet for a few years. It was kind of a mess and it was creased in some areas. I cut around the most significant creases. For the less significant creases, I found that if you place a piece of fabric over the vinyl, a warm iron can release/relax some of the kinks. I would be cautious in doing this, because you don't want to melt the vinyl (and ruin your iron), but it does help. I would start with a warm iron and increase the temperature gradually, as needed. Just be careful!
When purchasing and storing vinyl, be cautious not to crease or smash it. Also, don't roll it up too tightly into a tube, or it will retain it's curl and it is harder to use. A little experience talking!
Now, a few thoughts about sewing with vinyl....
Sewing with vinyl isn’t difficult, but it takes a bit of getting used to. Don’t expect perfection right out of the gate! Be sure to sew slowly and take your time. That really does help! You can't pin through vinyl (without leaving holes) so Clover wonder clips are essential. They hold the layers in place while you sew. I used a standard piecing foot on my sewing machine--even when attaching the zipper to the vinyl. If the vinyl sticks to the sole plate of your machine, you can place a piece of tissue paper under the vinyl and it will allow the piece to move through your machine easily. Sometimes the first few stitches are sticky, so I just nudge it along to get it moving and usually it's smooth sailing from there. I used a Universal 80/12 sewing machine needle.
I've heard that a Teflon foot helps, but I have never tried one. If you have, I'd love to hear if you think it was beneficial.
Did you know that a zipper is always measured from end stop to end stop? (Not from one end of the zipper tape to the other.) I didn't know that until last week. There is a whole diagram here about how to measure a zipper that is pretty interesting.
My local quilt shop sells zippers for $1.10 (which is a good price) and they come in so many fun colors. They only carry one size (14"), but since they have vinyl teeth, they are easily shortened.
I thought it would be beneficial to share how to shorten a zipper. As always, this is just one way to do it!
made my sew together bags.)
Ok, that is a LOT of information in one blog post! I hope that it helps clear up any questions you may have. If I missed anything, please ask and I will try to answer in the comments.
Go forth and sew with vinyl AND zippers without fear! :)