What is PUL or polyurethane laminated fabric?
Polyurethane laminate fabric, or PUL fabric, is a layer of fabric coated with polyurethane. Polyurethane is a soft plastic mixed with rubber. The plastic layer makes it waterproof and quite strong and stops it from fraying.
PUL fabric comes in several different weights, with the lighter weight 1mm thick type being the one you’ll most commonly find. This type is generally quite drapey and doesn’t crease.
The fabric layer is typically polyester or cotton, which is sometimes called laminated cotton, or simply laminated fabric.
The base fabric can also be linen which makes a brilliant, on-trend tablecloth. In fact, when I ran Duckcloth as an online fabric store, one of the best-selling fabrics was our natural coloured laminated linen.
If you are interested in laminated fabric tablecloths, see our article Laminated fabric tablecloths: 9 stylish options for 2022.
Where to buy PUL fabric in Australia?
If you’re looking for PUL fabric by the metre in Australia, here’s my pick of the options available:
- Noosa Fabric Co (shown above and below) has the best overall range including lots of great coloured solids, contemporary interiors prints I haven’t seen elsewhere and some cute novelty prints.
- Woods Girls Fabric stocks some novelty and kids prints in PUL.
- Green Beans has a range of plain colours suitable for making nappy covers.
- Snaps Australia is also worth a look if you’re sewing nappy covers.
If you’re looking for PUL fabric at Spotlight you’ll find a nice plain hessian which would make a great tablecloth and a range of novelty glitter colours, ideal for kids’ craft tables.
PUL fabric prints
Mint Door Fabric Studio
Best for: Whimsical childrens’ prints
If you’re looking for childrens’ PUL fabric prints, then another option is Mint Door Fabric Studio on the Sunshine Coast.
Multi-purpose PUL fabric
Made in Sun is one of my favourite suppliers of laminated fabric. The options above are just a couple of contemporary laminated tablecloths they sell via their Etsy store. Click here to see their full range.
What to make out of laminated fabric
Because the fabric is waterproof, it really is quite practical.
Here are some common uses:
- Tablecloths – you can sew some bias around the edge to finish it off, but this isn’t essential as the edges won’t fray. It’s particularly great as a craft table cover for young children. It will protect your table from paint, Texta, and play dough stains.
- Nappy covers
- Snack or lunch bags – just wipe any spills with a cloth.
- Tote bags – especially great for waterproof swimming bags or laundry bags for travelling.
- Children’s art apron – easy to wipe clean and super quick to make.
- Raincoats – you’ll find both kids and adult sewing patterns available using laminated fabric.
How to wash the fabric
Depending on the type of PUL fabric and what you need to wash, you may be able to simply wipe it clean. This generally applies to tablecloths, lunch bags, placemats and aprons. Nappy covers will naturally need to be washed properly.
You can wash most types of PUL fabric in the washing machine and even dry in the tumble dryer on a low setting. Although, I’d recommend line-drying as much as possible to maintain the life of the fabric. As with anything, check the recommended washing instructions for the particular type of fabric you’re using.
You don’t need to pre-wash your fabric before sewing it as it won’t shrink in the wash.
Sewing with PUL fabric
Here are a few tips for sewing with PUL:
- Pins vs clips – Clips win. Use clips (like these ones) instead of pins to hold the fabric together while you sew. Using pins puts holes in the PUL.
- Needle choice – A ballpoint needle is usually recommended for PUL. But some people have successfully used universal needles and they have worked.
- Needle size – Some sewers use a smaller needle size (9 or 11) to prevent putting huge holes in the fabric, while others recommend a larger one as the fabric is thicker. I simply test a medium-sized needle first on a scrap of fabric and check for holes.
- Presser foot – The plastic side of the PUL can often cause problems when feeding through your machine. I’ve used a walking foot in the past and haven’t had this problem. If you don’t have a walking foot, Maaike over at Maai Design suggests using baking paper between the presser foot and laminate.
- Thread choice – A 100% polyester thread is better than cotton thread as it’s less likely to soak up and hold water.
Is it waterproof?
The short answer is yes, pretty much. Obviously, the fabric may get wet but because it is coated with a plastic layer, the water won’t seep through to the other side.
Watch the video below to find out exactly how waterproof it is.
How to make PUL fabric
If you can’t find the colour or print you want, you can make your own PUL fabric. All you’ll need is pre-washed cotton and iron on vinyl.
Watch the short video below to find out how to make your own.
Where to buy iron-on vinyl in Australia
The two main brands of iron-on vinyl (also called fusible vinyl or vinyl fuse) sold in Australia are Pellon and HeatnBond. Make sure you look out for the clear varieties, rather than solid white used for Cricut.
Here are some options:
Iron-on vinyl in bulk
If you’re looking for bulk quantities, you might find it more economical to buy iron-on vinyl rolls directly from the manufacturers, Therm O Web. They ship internationally including to Australia on a regular basis.
Therm O Web also has this very interesting alternative – HeatnBond Liquid Vinyl. It’s in a liquid gel form that you paint on instead of ironing on.
You can build up the amount of protection by layering on multiple coats:
- 1 coat – makes your fabric water and stain-resistant
- 2 coats – make your fabric waterproof and stain-resistant
- 3 coats – make your fabric waterproof and stain-resistant with a semi-gloss oilcloth finish
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