7 Tips for Sewing Ripstop Nylon Fabric

If you are sewing light fabrics like ripstop nylon for the first time you might be surprised at how frustrating it can be compared to heavier materials.  If you are set up for heavy fabrics you will want to make sure you have the right needle and thread for ripstop. Also, nice sharp scissors or a rotary cutter, and possibly painters tape.  If you are working with a coated ripstop like our 70D water repellent ripstop nylon it will be a little easier than something uncoated like a micro denier. Here are a few more tips that have helped me out.


  1. Make sure you are using a new sharp Universal 70/10 Needle. 
  2. An all purpose polyester or nylon thread is great. Some people  like to match the thread the the fabric. Lightweight nylon fabric = a lightweight nylon thread; however,  All Purpose Polyester Coats and Clarke is available  everywhere and will work great. 
  3. Slipping? Working with coated ripstop nylon, you may not have much slipping. However if you do, painters tape is great fast way to hold your seams in place, so you don’t have to pin through your ripstop. A long running basting stitch on the edge is a great last resort to manage slipping too!
  4. Sew Straight. Use the grid lines on the ripstop to help sew straight.  Sloppy sewing will be easy to notice if your seam looks crooked next to the straight woven lines in the fabric. Keep in mind ripstop typically stretches on the diagonal.
  5. Use sharp fabric scissors or a new rotary cutter for clean straight edges. Once you cut out your pieces it is ideal to sew them up immediately.  Leaving cut nylon lying around will cause your clean cut edges to get messy or frayed making the sewing a little more challenging.
  6. Check your stitch length. If your stitch length is too small it can cause problems.  It can weaken your seams by basically perforating a line down your fabric that will pull apart easily over time. It can also just make the fabric bunch up, so try for around 8-10 stitches per inch.
  7. Reinforce those seams. If your project is going to be weight bearing, it’s a great idea to reinforce your seams with a topstich (felded seam). It will make your seams stronger and, if done well, will make the final project look more professional.

Big Duck Canvas Warehouse…
We have some great Ripstop Nylon fabrics including closeouts, some for $2.99/yard or less. Our Coyote Brown ripstop is even waterproof!

7 thoughts on “7 Tips for Sewing Ripstop Nylon Fabric

  1. I recently had a go at making a ripstop hammock for the kids. It wasn’t easy.

    I began trying to put a rolled hem down one side, but the rolled hem foot move seemed a bit advanced. So I cut a small square of ripstop to practice.

    Whether I was trying to sew a rolled hem or simply a straight stitch with a small seam allowance, I could not seem to get the ripstop from getting sucked into the feed dogs.

    I guess I should have read your article earlier.

    Please check out my site.


  2. I am trying to make a flag with a club logo and lettering in the shape of a circle around the logo in ripstop nylon. Problem is that the designs are sewn on as an appliqué and the stitching around the letters causes tremendous bunching of the surrounding fabric. Tried using steamaseam 2 to hold the design and letters flat and provide some stabilization but it might be making it worse. The flag has a liner in between as it is 2 sided and the letters should not show through to the back side. Used 90 needle (now 70) and 1.0 and 2.5 stitch settings and med stretch setting for the fabric. Any suggestions or can you point me to someone who ca help? Would like to make several for my husband’s b/d


    1. Hi Janet,

      It is always hard to give good advice without actually seeing exactly what you are dealing with. You have probably already thought of this, but what about just hand stitching the logo on. It will take longer, but you can control placement and bunching much better.


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