PPC18: Hold the “PUL” Puhlease

So…

you might remember that early on in the process of designing our new Packlets pattern, I mentioned that it might be a good idea to apply fabric laminate to the lining, particularly if you thought you might use your little pouch to carry makeup or toiletry supplies. My thinking was that the laminated lining would aid in the clean up of incidental spills and leakage and hopefully prevent permanent staining. But it wasn’t long thereafter that I started seeing some of you comment and/or recommend using “PUL” instead of fabric laminate, but here’s the thing…

I had never heard of “PUL”!

So I did a little research and found that “PUL” (short for polyurethane laminant) is basically water repellent and commonly used for items such as the outer shell of baby pants. So I found some online and when it arrived I was SO surprised to see how fluid and soft it was. My gut reaction was that it would make for a VERY beautiful interior for these little bags. I was cautiously optimistic… but it wan’t long before I realized that my optimism might have been a bit premature!

Because first off… its not easy getting pins to go through PUL, but I did like that there was no need to laminate anything to the lining and it cut beautifully without any frayed edges. Once I started sewing up this Packlets sample however is when I realized that this was going to be a struggle, because…

Secondly… it is literally impossible to press PUL, and by that I’m not saying that the heat is the issue, I’m saying that the PUL is SO soft and fluid that it simply will NOT take a press and that’s a problem with a project like this that requires structure (as opposed to the soft drapey nature of baby pants.

Thirdly… it’s difficult to sew on (and that’s being kind). It wasn’t too bad if the PUL was face up on the machine bed, away from the feed dogs, but that is just not possible ALL the time for this project because if the entire interior is to be made from PUL, then obviouslythere’s going to be a LOT of times when the PUL is the upper AND the lower fabric surface and THAT’s when it was very frustrating to work with!

The picture above kind of demonstrates the issues I ran into with this PUL fabric. The surface you see above was the underside of my sewing area, which was constantly shifting around under my stitching area. See how it’s stretched out and how it folded in on itself at the stitching line? I wasn’t happy at ALL with this finish! And believe me I took it slow and continuously adjusted this area to specifically avoid this! And to make matters worse, when it was time to flip that bias tape over those clipped corner edges it was a lot like trying to bias tape wet noodles! Now I know this surface will be on the inside of this Packlet and no one else will probably ever notice this, but do not discount how annoying it was to work with this material. I was glad just to finish this project and have NO intention of trying it again for this design.

So in conclusion…

It should come as no surprise that I will NOT be recommending the use of PUL for the interior of our Packlets! I’m sure it works great for clothing and the like but it’s just not suitable for a structured item such as this! If you’re interested in making your Packlets interior moisture repellent, then my recommendation would be to apply fabric laminate* to your lining. You still have to a bit careful with your pins and it’s not particularly forgiving in the event that you have to rip out a seam, but its easy to sew on and produces a clean professional finish!
*(I used Slicker Glossy Iron-On Vinyl from Sew Lazy by Lazy Girl Designs, but there’s probably other similar products on the market that would also work well. From past experience, I find the glossy varieties easier to work with that the matte laminates.)

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And now…. it’s YOUR turn!

I’d love to know if you’ve had any experience with PUL or fabric laminates, and if so, perhaps you’d like to share your experience.  And remember, we love reading your comments and answering your questions too, so please feel free to leave either or both in the space provided below.

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9 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. I used PUL on the water resistant Sling Along. I used it as an exterior. It was as difficult as you described above. I actually put the project down for a month before I finished it. I cannot see many uses for the fabric in what I usually sew. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one that had trouble.

    • It’s not pleasant to work with at all, at least for structured items such as bags. 🙂

      • I used clips. It was still a pain. I agree that in this situation using the PUL as a lining is not worth the trouble. Vinyl fuse is probably the most practical and fuse and seal might be a bit pricy but easier to handle because of the stability. Teflon foot and Dual feed is a big help.

  2. Françoise Bourgoin

    I use PUL to make wet bags and lunch pouches. You need a microtek needle and to sew on the non slippery side put a sheet of wrapping paper folded in 2 or 3 to make it slippery. Never use pin needles the holes will never close the water will pass through useWonder Clips or double sided tape if needed. You will get use to it after a while. But for lining with thicker material, it’s a challenge but I succeed for lunch pouches with cotton outside and PUL inside, practice is the key

    • I can see that when a waterPROOF interior is the goal (like for diapers and the like), that PUL is worth the trouble, BUT…. for this Packlets pattern, I doubt anyone is really looking for a waterproof solution, but rather a surface that will resist liquid and provide a surface that’s stain resistant and easy to wipe clean. Thanks for providing this info.

  3. I think you could sub a coated nylon or coated cotton for the interior if you wanted to be able to “wipe” it clean. In that case, I would use the clips, like the ones made by clover. If you want any kind of waterproof lining to be intact, you don’t want to use pins. PUL has some stretch and that may be causing part of the issues. Coated cotton or nylon is more stable and would behave more as you are used to.

  4. Tommie O'Sullivan

    I generally use iron on laminate for fabrics that might get dripped on or stained. It does wipe clean and is pretty easy to work with.

    I use PUL fabric when I want wet bags…for cloth diapers, swimsuits, lunch box bags, etc. toss it in the washer and it comes out fine.

    For sewing, it has to be treated like any tacky, sticky, lacy, sequined, or difficult to sew on fabric. Put a strip of archival tissue paper between the fabric and your machine. Any tissue paper will worry, but archival tissue paper, like Stitch & Ditch is made for sewing. It’s less likely to be torn by your feed dogs, and when your seam is finished, it will tear away cleanly without a lot of frayed bits left in your seam. A single roll will last you most of your life.

    Wonder clips, or small binder clips should be used instead of pins to keep fabric layers together.

    Your presser foot should move easily over the fabric, so your choices are another tissue paper strip (which limits your view), a Teflon foot, a roller foot, or a walking foot. You might want to experiment to see which your machine likes better.

    As for needles…PUL is a knit, so a 90 stretch would be the recommendation, it has the longest scarf available, but the coating on the fabric might not work with the stretch point. If you have to go to a sharp, then an 80 Microtex might be a 2nd choice. If you can find a Teflon coated tip it might be worth the extra cost.

    When working with very specialized fabrics, you need special equipment. The equipment (clips, presser feet, etc.) are all things you’ll use again and again once you have them, but while these things make your sewing easier on other projects, they are a necessity with these specialty fabrics.

    Enjoy

  5. First you don’t use pins. There are little clips to hold in place. Then you need a teflon foot to glide over it. Or try a walking foot. I think it could work.

    • I did use a teflon foot, but my main problem was not the top area, but rather the underneath area that was not moving smoothly over the feed dogs. I just dont think this product is suitable for small structured bags with tight turns. It was so miserable that i do not intend to try it again since there are other products that work SO much better in this application. But of course everyone is welcomed to used what they see fit! It just wont be getting my recommendation, thats for sure! 🙂

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