Ripstop fabric

Commonly available in Nylon or Polyester (also cotton, silk). Woven with special reinforced techniques resistant to tearing and ripping. Reinforced threads are interwoven at regular intervals in crosshatch pattern. Modern weaving techniques will make threads less obvious. Small tears cannot easily spread.

May be waterproof, fire resistant, zero porosity (no air/water through), comes in light, medium and heavy weights, and textures from soft to crisp or stiff. Developed in WWII to replace silk in production of parachutes. Ripstop is used for parachutes, yacht sails, kites, camping equipment, flags, work wear, sports clothing, backpacks, and luggage bags to name a few. Ripstop Fabric comes in many styles and weights (Deniers) and fiber content, prints and solid colors as well as DWR (Durable Water Repellent) Denier is a unit of measurement that is used to determine the fiber thickness of individual threads or filaments used in the creation of textiles and fabrics. Fabrics with a high denier count tend to be thick, sturdy, and durable. Fabrics with a low denier count tend to be sheer, soft, and silky.30 Denier (ultra light weight), 70 Denier (light weight), 400×300 Denier (medium weight)


Seattle Fabrics, 8702 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, 206-525-0670
Available in Metallic coated – gold or silver 56” wide @ $21.95/yd

Joann Fabric
Rockywoods, Colorado
Rockywoods carries over 200 different ripstop fabrics from ultralight 7D ripstop nylon to 500D Extreme X-PAC fabric.

Sewing Tips:

Do not use heat/hot iron to fabric – it will melt. You can use warm iron with press cloth.
Thread: polyester 100%/outdoor thread or nylon thread
Needle: sharp Universal 70/10 – use a new needle
Stitches per inch: 8-10
Seam technique: felled or French seam
Cutting pattern – when using pins place them on very edge of fabric because pin holes are permanent and want them inside seams. Try using clips instead of pins.

An all purpose polyester or nylon thread is great. When using lightweight nylon fabric, use a lightweight nylon thread. However, all-purpose thread will work okay as well.
Slipping? Working with coated ripstop nylon, you may not experience too much slipping. However if you do, clips are quick and easy way to hold your seams in place so you don’t have to pin through your ripstop.

Sew Straight. Use the grid lines woven in the ripstop to help sew straight. Sloppy sewing will be easy to notice if your seam looks crooked next to those straight woven lines in the fabric. Keep in mind ripstop typically stretches on the diagonal.

Use a new rotary cutter or sharp fabric scissors for clean, straight edges. Once you cut out your pieces, it’s 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 more challenging. Heat sealing the cut edges is also an option. Test first to determine if this will work on your Ripstop fabric.

Check your stitch length. If your stitch length is too small it will cause problems; it can weaken your seams by perforating a line down your fabric that will pull apart easily over time. It can also just make the fabric pucker, so try for around 8-10 stitches per inch.

Reinforce those seams. If your project is going to be weight-bearing, reinforce your seams with a top-stitch (felled seam) or French seam. It will make your seams stronger and, if done well, will make the final project look much more professional.

Project Idea:

The following link is a quick project to practice your Ripstop fabric skills:

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