Perhaps you have never sewn with ripstop nylon fabric. Maybe you don’t really know what it is. Well, it’s a synthetic material that has been woven in three dimensions. This makes it strong and resistant to tears.It is great for gear you use outside such as backpacks and jackets. Although it is resistant to rain and snow, it is still lightweight and comfortable to wear. 

Ripstop nylon fabric was first used during the First World War to make parachutes and it still is to this day. In addition, it can be used for hot air balloons, flags, and kites. It is also used to make tents and sleeping bags. 

It used to be difficult to find ripstop nylon fabric for sewing .although it has been easy to find the finished products. However, now the material is more easily sourced. It is a little more difficult to sew with ripstop nylon, but in this article, we will guide you through the process. Even if you don’t intend to sew anything from ripstop nylon, it can be useful to know how to repair it if you purchase any items made from this material.

Wash Your Hands

This might seem strange, but it is a good idea to wash your hands before you start handling ripstop nylon. This is because the material is water-proofed, but it can be affected by oil on your hands. Ripstop fabric is made specifically for the outdoors so you will want to stop it from becoming less waterproof. There can also be excess oil on your sewing machine, so this should be washed as well. In some ways, it is better to hand sew this material as you won’t have the problem of machine oil. 

Thread Your Needle

If you are going to sew by hand, now is the time to thread the needle. The best needle to use is a universal 70/10 needle as you will want small stitches. Because you will be sewing nylon, the best thread to use is an all purpose polyester or nylon thread so that it matches the material. It’s also a good idea to get thread of a color similar to the material so that it blends in. If your fabric is lightweight, and you are using a sewing machine, it is best to use the smallest sewing machine needle that you have as you don’t want to be able to see the threading. If you can see it, the item of clothing or other items will look scruffy. 

Cut Your Fabric

If you are starting from scratch, it is better that you have a pattern to follow. If you can’t find a pattern that is suitable, you will have to draw one yourself. If you are going to make a jacket for example, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a pattern, but if you are sewing something more obscure like a backpack, you may have to improvise. 

To cut the fabric, you will need a rotary cutter with a new blade. Scissors probably won’t fit the bill as they can fray the edges. A final option is a soldering iron with which you can hot-cut the fabric.  This has the advantage of sealing the edges at the same time. To protect the material, it is best to put a sheet of glass underneath the fabric while you are using the soldering iron.

It is a good idea to use fabric weights to hold the pattern to the fabric. This will help to get the correct size you want.

Once you have cut out the material, it is a good idea to sew them together straight away. Leaving mylon lying around can cause the edges to fray. This means that it will be more difficult to sew it.  

Sewing the Fabric

If you are sewing the material with a sewing machine, it is best not to use pins to turn the ends down as you will be working too fast and they will get in the way. A glue stick is a much better option. If you have to use pins, only use them in the seam allowance.

While sewing, fabrics can slip, but you shouldn’t have much of a problem with ripstop nylon as it is a very secure material. If you find that this is happening, use painters tape to hold your seams in place. This will mean that you won’t have to use pins which can be more trouble than they are worth. As a last resort, use a basting stitch on the edge of the material. 

It is best not to pull as you sew. Keep the seam smooth and even. 

A final solution to stop the material from slipping is to put tissue paper underneath the ripstop nylon. Sew them together but then rip out the tissue paper when you have finished sewing.

It is a good idea to check your stitch length as soon as you start sewing. If it’s not long enough, it can weaken your seams as it will perforate a line down the nylon that will pull apart in no time at all. It can also make your fabric bunch up which is something you don’t want with ripstop nylon. 

When you come to sew, use the grid lines of the nylon to help you to sew in a straight line. People will notice if your seam is crooked. It is important to remember that ripstop nylon stretches on the diagonal, so sloppy sewing will be evident. 

The final thing to do is to reinforce your seams to make sure that they are up to the work. If your item is going to be weight-bearing like a rucksack , the seams need to be reinforced with a top stitch. This will make your seams much stronger and the item will look professional.      


Ripstop nylon fabric is a little more difficult to sew than ordinary material such as cotton, but take it carefully from the beginning and soon you will be able to easily mend items or perhaps even make a waterproof jacket yourself.