Sewing Ripstop Nylon: Easy Step-by-Step Guide

how to sew ripstop nylon

Sewing Ripstop Nylon: Easy Step-by-Step Guide

Ripstop nylon, a cornerstone in the world of durable textiles, has carved out its niche due to its robust weaving process that incorporates a distinctive crosshatch pattern. This technique not only elevates its aesthetic appeal but significantly boosts its strength, making it an ideal choice for a myriad of applications ranging from outdoor gear to lightweight garments. The genesis of ripstop nylon’s durability lies in its polyester and nylon fibers, intertwined during the manufacturing process to create a fabric that’s both tough and water repellent.

The fabric’s unique structure, characterized by its reinforced threads at regular intervals, is engineered to prevent tears and rips from spreading, hence the name “ripstop.” This characteristic, coupled with its lightweight nature and ability to repel water, renders ripstop nylon an excellent material for various military applications, adventure gear, and even everyday items like flags and kites. Its versatility doesn’t end there; ripstop nylon is also celebrated for its flame retardant and zero porosity variants, catering to more specialized needs.

The appeal of ripstop nylon extends beyond its functional benefits. Its origin story, tied to the ingenuity of scientists at the DuPont Company who sought to create a synthetic alternative to silk, speaks volumes about the fabric’s revolutionary impact on both military and civilian markets. From parachutes to pantyhose, ripstop nylon has demonstrated its value across different eras and industries, earning a place as a favored material among both hobbyists and professionals alike. For an in-depth exploration of ripstop nylon, consider diving into resources like Canvas ETC, which offers a comprehensive guide on sewing with this innovative fabric.

Sewing ripstop nylon, a durable and versatile fabric ideal for outdoor gear, requires specific techniques to handle its unique properties. MashUp Fabric offers a comprehensive guide on how to sew ripstop nylon fabric, including choosing the right tools and settings on your sewing machine. This guide is particularly useful for those looking to create items that withstand harsh conditions. For further reading, the “Cotton and Cloud” blog also provides an insightful tutorial focused on maximizing the durability of your ripstop nylon projects, making it ideal for tents, jackets, and other heavy-duty applications. Additionally, for those who need to understand the basics before starting, Sailrite has a video on YouTube explaining the fundamentals of sewing ripstop nylon, ensuring you have a solid foundation before tackling more complex projects.

Preparing to Sew Ripstop Nylon

Embarking on a sewing project with ripstop nylon requires a nuanced approach, starting with the assembly of the right tools and materials. The fabric’s unique properties demand a careful selection of needles and threads to ensure the integrity of the weave and the overall success of the project. A universal, size 70/10 needle, known for its sharp, pointed end, is widely recommended for its compatibility with ripstop nylon’s slippery texture and tensile strength. This needle type minimizes damage to the fabric while providing the precision necessary for detailed work.

When it comes to thread, the consensus among seasoned sewers leans towards using a thread that mirrors the fabric’s synthetic composition. A 100% nylon or polyester thread is preferred for its durability and ability to withstand the rigors of use and wear. This choice ensures that the thread and fabric work in harmony, reducing the risk of seams coming undone or the fabric puckering under stress.

The preparatory phase also involves setting up your sewing machine with the correct tension and stitch settings. Given ripstop nylon’s propensity to fray and its relatively lightweight nature, selecting a longer stitch length can prevent the fabric from tearing at the seam. Moreover, a roller presser foot or a walking foot may enhance your machine’s ability to handle the fabric smoothly, mitigating the risk of slips and misalignments during the sewing process.

For practical insights and community-driven advice on handling ripstop nylon, engaging with platforms like the American Kitefliers Association and Pattern Review can be invaluable. These resources offer a wealth of knowledge from experienced individuals who share tips and tricks tailored to sewing ripstop nylon, from the initial cut to the final stitch.

Cutting and Handling Techniques

Cutting and handling ripstop nylon demands precision and understanding of the fabric’s unique characteristics. To start, sharp scissors or a rotary cutter are essential for making clean cuts without fraying the edges of this durable fabric. Preparing your workspace with a non-slip mat can also prevent the material from sliding as you cut, ensuring accuracy in every piece you work on.

When handling ripstop nylon, it’s crucial to avoid unnecessary stretching or distortion. The fabric’s slippery nature can be challenging, but using weights to hold the material in place while cutting can mitigate movement. Additionally, marking your nylon with tailor’s chalk or a fabric marker should be done with care to ensure visibility and precision in your sewing project.

  • Minimize Fraying: To further prevent fraying, lightly singe the edges of the cut fabric with a heat source. This technique seals the ends but requires a delicate touch to avoid damaging the material.
  • Lay Flat for Cutting: Always ensure the ripstop nylon is laid out flat on your cutting surface to guarantee accurate measurements and cuts.

Handling ripstop nylon with these techniques in mind sets the foundation for a successful sewing project, maintaining the integrity and aesthetic of the fabric from start to finish.

Basic Sewing Techniques

Sewing ripstop nylon requires adapting basic sewing techniques to accommodate the fabric’s unique texture and durability. Choosing the right needle and thread is paramount; a size 70/10 sharp needle paired with nylon or polyester thread can navigate the fabric’s resilience while ensuring strong seams. The sewing machine tension and stitch length also need adjustment — longer stitches prevent the lightweight material from tearing at the seam, enhancing the durability of the finished product.

For those new to sewing ripstop nylon, starting with simple projects can build confidence. Practice on scrap pieces to familiarize yourself with how the fabric moves and reacts under the sewing machine. This hands-on experience is invaluable, revealing the optimal settings and techniques for your specific machine and fabric combination.

  • Stitch Selection: Opt for a straight stitch for most projects but consider a zigzag stitch for seams requiring flexibility.
  • Seam Reinforcement: Reinforcing seams, especially on items subjected to stress or strain, can prevent ripping. Double stitching or using a French seam technique adds to the strength and longevity of your project.

Embracing these basic sewing techniques when working with ripstop nylon not only ensures the success of your project but also expands your sewing repertoire, allowing you to tackle a wider variety of materials with confidence and skill.

Advanced Sewing and Projects

Advanced Sewing Tips and Tricks

When venturing into the world of sewing ripstop nylon, embracing advanced sewing tips and tricks can elevate your projects from good to great. Ripstop nylon, with its unique weaving process and durable characteristics, requires a nuanced approach to sewing, especially as you tackle more complex projects.

  • Understand Fabric Behavior: Before sewing, take time to understand how ripstop nylon behaves under different conditions. Its slippery nature and propensity to fray can be managed with careful handling and the right sewing strategies.
  • Choose the Right Tools: Opting for specialized sewing tools, such as a walking foot or a Teflon foot, can significantly improve your sewing experience with ripstop nylon. These tools help manage the fabric’s slipperiness, ensuring smooth fabric feed through the sewing machine.

When dealing with varying thicknesses and weights of ripstop nylon, adjusting your sewing machine’s tension is crucial. A balanced tension prevents puckering and ensures strong, even seams. Also, consider the environmental aspects of your project. For outdoor gear, using UV-resistant thread can add to the longevity of your creations.

  • Reinforce Seams: For areas subjected to stress, reinforcing seams with additional stitching or using a serger can prevent tearing. This is especially important for outdoor gear and adventure equipment.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Before starting your main project, test your setup on scrap pieces of ripstop nylon. This practice allows you to adjust your technique and settings for optimal results.

Creative Projects with Ripstop Nylon

Ripstop nylon’s versatility and durability make it an excellent choice for a wide range of creative projects. From outdoor equipment to everyday items, the possibilities are endless.

  • Kites: With its lightweight and durable nature, ripstop nylon is perfect for making kites. Its ability to withstand wind and minor tears makes your homemade kites both beautiful and resilient.
  • Sails: For the nautical enthusiasts, crafting sails from ripstop nylon can be a rewarding project. The fabric’s water repellent properties and strength are ideal for the demands of sailing.

Creating jackets and other apparel with ripstop nylon offers a blend of functionality and style. The fabric’s lightweight and water repellent characteristics provide protection against the elements, while its wide range of colors and patterns allows for creative expression.

  • Parachutes: For the adventurous at heart, making parachutes from ripstop nylon can be both challenging and exhilarating. The fabric’s zero porosity variants are particularly suited for this application, offering the necessary air resistance and durability.
  • Banners/Flags: Ripstop nylon’s strength and lightweight make it an excellent material for banners and flags. Whether for a community event or personal use, your creations will wave proudly in the breeze.

Each project not only allows you to explore the diverse applications of ripstop nylon but also to hone your sewing skills. With each stitch, you’ll discover more about this remarkable fabric, pushing the boundaries of what you can create and achieve.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can Ripstop Nylon Be Sewn with a Regular Sewing Machine?

Yes, ripstop nylon can be sewn with a regular sewing machine. However, it’s essential to adjust the machine settings to accommodate the fabric’s lightweight and slippery nature. Use a sharp needle, preferably size 70/10, and opt for nylon or polyester thread to ensure compatibility. Setting the machine to a longer stitch length can help prevent tearing, and using a walking foot or Teflon foot may also aid in handling the fabric more effectively.

What Type of Thread Should Be Used for Sewing Ripstop Nylon?

For sewing ripstop nylon, it’s recommended to use a thread that matches the durability and synthetic makeup of the fabric. Nylon or polyester thread is ideal as these materials are strong, durable, and resistant to weathering, which complements the properties of ripstop nylon. The choice between nylon and polyester thread can depend on the project’s specific requirements, such as the need for UV resistance or flexibility.

How Do You Prevent Ripstop Nylon from Fraying When Cut?

To prevent ripstop nylon from fraying, you can use a few techniques. One method is to use sharp scissors or a rotary cutter for clean cuts. After cutting, lightly singe the edges of the fabric with a heat source, such as a lighter or a heat-sealing tool. This melts the fibers slightly, creating a seal that prevents fraying. Always perform this step with caution to avoid damaging the fabric or causing discoloration.

Is Ripstop Nylon Waterproof?

Ripstop nylon is inherently water-resistant due to its tight weave and the finishing treatments applied during manufacturing. However, it’s not completely waterproof unless it has been specially coated or laminated with waterproof materials. Ripstop nylon fabrics with a waterproof coating are ideal for outdoor and rain gear, providing effective protection against moisture while maintaining breathability.


Sewing ripstop nylon may initially seem daunting due to its unique properties, such as its lightweight nature and tendency to fray. However, with the right tools and techniques, it can be a rewarding material to work with, offering durability and versatility for a wide range of projects. From outdoor gear to lightweight garments, ripstop nylon provides a robust option for creative and practical sewing endeavors.

When sewing ripstop nylon, remember the importance of using the correct needle and thread type, adjusting your sewing machine settings, and practicing on scrap pieces to get a feel for the material. Techniques to prevent fraying, like using sharp cutting tools and carefully sealing the edges, are crucial for maintaining the fabric’s integrity. Whether you’re a seasoned sewer or a beginner, understanding these nuances will enhance your sewing experience and result in successful projects.

Ripstop nylon’s adaptability extends beyond just practical items; it can also be used in creative and innovative ways, pushing the boundaries of traditional sewing projects. As you become more comfortable working with ripstop nylon, experiment with different projects to explore its full potential. With patience and practice, sewing ripstop nylon can become a staple in your fabric repertoire, opening up a world of possibilities for durable, high-quality creations.