How to Protect Clear Vinyl During Fabrication

Item # X-HT-300024

Clear vinyl can be a delicate and finicky material to work with. It can easily get scratched, so extra care should always be taken when sewing, installing, cleaning and storing canvas that includes sheets of clear vinyl. In fact, it’s so easily scratched, DIYers often have a hard time sewing it into dodgers and enclosure panels without damaging the vinyl during fabrication. We’re going to share some quick tips for protecting your clear vinyl while you’re sewing it (plus some bonus tips for storage!).

Sewing clear vinyl with a soft fabric cushion.

Tip 1: Pattern With the Backer Paper

All pressed polished sheets of clear vinyl come rolled with paper. As you unroll your vinyl, leave that sheet of paper underneath. The paper can then act as a buffer between the vinyl and the tabletop while you measure, pattern and cut your vinyl to size. Then, the paper can also be used to re-roll any excess vinyl for storage.

Tip 2: Cushion Clear Vinyl With Soft Fabric

This second tip is similar to the first but turns it up a notch. Always keep a layer of a soft fabric between the clear vinyl and the table. This not only keeps the vinyl from getting scratched, but it also makes the vinyl easier to maneuver because the fabric slides on the table better than the vinyl, which can be sticky. You can even leave the fabric under the vinyl while you sew, although you will need to take care to not sew this extra fabric into your project. If you don’t have a tabletop surface to work on and are sewing on the floor, lay a flat bedsheet on the floor underneath your work area to protect the clear vinyl from the floor.

Tip 3: Pay Attention to Scratch Points

A scratch point is any sharp object or corner in your work area that could possibly scratch your vinyl as you work and maneuver it around. Be sure to always be aware of where potential scratch points are so they can be avoided. This is also a good practice for when you are transporting your clear vinyl projects to your boat.

Other Tips for Clear Vinyl

  • Don’t leave your clear vinyl rolled up for long periods of time. Storing it stacked with towels between vinyl layers is best. If you must roll it for off-season storage, roll it with a soft sheet or a towel between the layers of vinyl.
  • During fabrication, if you get basting tape on the visible clear vinyl, you can use 3M™ Adhesive Remover (#108984) to gently remove the excess adhesive.
  • Be sure to keep your vinyl clean and protected. Learn more about caring for your vinyl in our "How to Clean & Care for Your Clear Vinyl" blog (#300068XHT).
  • When installing your clear vinyl projects on your boat, be sure that the vinyl isn’t resting directly against any of the metal support poles. If you have a spot where the vinyl is touching the metal, you can make a quick anti-scorching divider to protect the clear vinyl. Learn how to do this in our post about how to make anti-scorching dividers using Boat Blanket fabric (#200676XHT).

Do you have any creative ways you’ve devised for keeping clear vinyl scratch free? Share your methods in the comments!