How to Sew with Sunbrella Fabric

For those of us who love crafting, DIY projects, and the ultimate personalization of making your own unique items, Sunbrella is the worry-free choice. Our fabrics are long-lasting, easy to clean, and comfortable for everyone to enjoy in any environment.

 

All Sunbrella fabrics can be sewn on a regular, domestic sewing machine, although the specifications do vary based on what fabric you are working with.

 

Sunbrella can be purchased by the yard from a variety of retailers. See below for tips and guidelines for sewing with Sunbrella fabrics. 

 

A sewing machine in a workspace with rolls of blue fabric in the backgroundA sewing machine in a workspace with rolls of blue fabric in the background
All Sunbrella fabrics can be sewn on a regular, home sewing machine

 

Choosing the Right Sunbrella Fabric

Sunbrella performance fabrics are made from 100% solution-dyed acrylic and feature the core characteristics of being UV, water, mildew and stain resistant. Our fabrics are engineered with Color to the Core™ technology, meaning they are saturated with color and UV-stabilized pigments before they’re spun into yarn, so the pigment goes all the way through the fibers and the color stays true over time. 

 

All Sunbrella fabrics are also easy to clean, even with bleach, and are easy to sew. Sunbrella Marine and Shade fabrics feature a tight weave construction, giving the fabric a slightly stiff feel. This stiffness gives them great dimensional stability, making them perfect for boat covers, home and RV awnings, Bimini tops, patio umbrellas, and more.

 

The Sunbrella Upholstery collection features softer, lighter weaves. These performance fabrics include many different weaves and surface textures, all engineered with softness and durability woven into each fiber. The result is an upholstery fabric that offers long-lasting comfort and durability, perfect for creating comfortable spaces.

 

While these collections do have a few distinct manufacturing differences, the Sunbrella Upholstery collection and the Sunbrella Marine and Shade collections, including Sunbrella Horizon marine vinyl, are expertly coordinated to work together.

 

Sunbrella Fabric Specs

The majority of Sunbrella fabrics are standard 54” width. Sunbrella Shade and Marine fabrics come in 46” widths with some fabrics available in 60” or 80” widths at the largest size. Browse our fabrics and view the “Technical Information” on a specific fabric’s page to find the width and other helpful information.

 

Close up view of a person marking cutting lines on blue fabricClose up view of a person marking cutting lines on blue fabric
Sunbrella performance fabrics are engineered with long-lasting softness and durability

 

Cutting Sunbrella Fabric

The easiest way to cut Sunbrella fabrics is with a hot knife. Using a hot knife effectively seals the cut edge of the fabric to prevent unraveling and provides a nice trim edge. Be aware: cutting Sunbrella with a hot knife can sometimes result in sharp edges so be mindful when working not to hurt your fingers.

 

You can also cut Sunbrella fabric with typical sewing scissors, a rotary cutter, or pinking shears. The cut edge will be more apt to unravel a small amount, but this is not an issue if you plan to hem your edges.

 

For upholstery fabric, patterning, cutting, and sewing should allow for a minimum of a ½ inch seam allowance. 

 

Tips for Sewing with Sunbrella

For stitch length, you always want to sew with the longest stitch length that your sewing machine will allow. For most regular, home sewing machines, the longest stitch length is around 4 millimeters. If you have access to a heavy-duty sewing machine or even an industrial sewing machine, those lengths can range up to around 8 or 10 millimeters. Any of these stitch lengths is fine to use, and the longer the better. 

 

We recommend 7 stitches per inch for upholstery applications, in alignment with Fabric Joint Industry Standards. 

 

A woman sits at a sewing machine, sewing a large piece of blue fabricA woman sits at a sewing machine, sewing a large piece of blue fabric
Sunbrella is a worry-free choice for DIY projects

 

Needle and Thread Recommendations for Sunbrella Fabric

Sewing with Sunbrella Upholstery Fabric

For Sunbrella Upholstery fabric, we recommend using a Round Point (Sharp) #16 size needle with V69 UV Poly or UV Nylon thread. Solution-dyed bonded polyester thread is the best choice for sewing outdoor fabric projects due to polyester’s high UV resistance and high strength resistance. Nylon thread is better for indoor upholstery projects due to its elasticity.

 

Sewing with Sunbrella Horizon

For Sunbrella Horizon Marine Vinyl, we recommend using a Round Point (Sharp) #18 size needle with V69 UV Poly or UV Nylon thread.

 

Sewing with Sunbrella Marine, Shade, Sling, or SeaMark®

For Sunbrella Marine, Shade, Sling, or SeaMark® fabrics, we recommend using a #18 size needle with V69 UV Poly thread. For Shade and Marine fabrics, typically a regular Round Point (R); Round Point, Rounded Tip (RG); or Light Ball Point (FFG) needle would be used. 

 

If when using a Round point you notice that you are puncturing/cutting some of the warp or fill yarns in the fabric, you may consider changing to an RG, FFG or other ball point needle. The ball point will tend to “push” between yarns instead of cutting them.

 

For more tips, our friends at Sailrite have a detailed thread and needle recommendation guide that includes Sunbrella fabrics along with several other helpful guides and videos to get you started.  

 

Scissors laying on blue fabricScissors laying on blue fabric
Sunbrella fabrics feature Color to the Core™ technology so the color stays true over time

 

Additional Sewing Tips

  • For joining sewn panels, a double needle stitch is ideal. Needle gauge should be wide, ¾ inch if possible. A chain stitch is preferable in seaming widths of the cloth. 
  • A lock stitch machine with a walking foot is ideal for hemming.
  • Maintain tension in front of and behind the needle during the sewing process to minimize puckering/gathering of fabric when seaming.
  • Avoid too much back stitching because this technique can weaken the fabric and cause the fabric to tear more easily.
  • When patterning, leave extra room for long runs before finishing your ends to make sure needle puckering has not made your item too small. 
  • Set your stitch tension so the knots are pulled into the material but not pulled to the top of the material, so you don’t create stitch tension puckering. Always lower the tension so the knots show up on the bottom side of the material.

 

Create with Sunbrella

With Sunbrella fabrics, exceptional comfort and unmatched durability go hand in hand. Browse our fabric selection or find a retailer to get started on your DIY project today! 

 

Make sure to tag us (@Sunbrella) with any finished projects on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or wherever you share!