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PVC is one of the hottest new fabrics on the market. It is supple, stretchy, and has a hi-gloss finish that’s sure to attract attention -- whether worn uptown, downtown, on in the bedroom. Its ultramodern look has graced the big screen in the hit film The Matrix, is a favorite of the gothic and rave club scenes, and has become the latest fashion in contemporary interior design. Today, designers use this unique fabric for everything from outerwear to intimate apparel, from accessories to home decorating. Originally named for it’s chemical makeup, Poly-Vinyl Chloride (PVC) has come to be called “Patent Vinyl Cloth” by the garment industry to differentiate it from the PVC pipe used in household plumbing.

On the fabric right side, PVC’s slick Polyurethane surface is reminiscent of the patent leather shoes worn by schoolgirls, but with the flexibility only a medium weight fabric can offer. On the wrong side, the stretch knit backing provides a comfortable, touchable self-lining. The knit may be polyester or Lycra, and is typically black for dark PVC colors, white for bright and light colors.

Patent Vinyl Cloth backed in polyester is called “2-way stretch” PVC. This is the standard offering of most PVC dealers. It has a 12-15% stretch only along the crosswise grain (perpendicular to the selvage). Patent Vinyl Cloth backed in Lycra is termed “4-way stretch”, and stretches 12-15% along both the crosswise and lengthwise grains.

Picking a Pattern
Try your favorite trenchcoat, duster, or jean jacket pattern in shiny PVC! Swimwear patterns constructed of 4-way stretch PVC become exotic lingerie. 2-way PVC makes great rainwear for children! Catsuits, leotards and other dancewear patterns become up-to-the-minute fashion statements in 4-way. Try sewing skirts, halter tops, evening gowns, off-the-hip pants, or corsets with this eye-catching fabric. Let your imagination run wild!

As a general rule in apparel, anything with a flared hem is most suited to 2-way stretch, as is any constructed garment like a blazer or raincoat. Use 4-way for slinkier outfits designed for stretch knits. You may need to go one pattern size larger than usual, as too much stretch in a Patent Vinyl Cloth can lead to unsightly wrinkles.

Stiffer accessories like backpacks and purses are fashionable in 2-way stretch, while softer ones such as opera length gloves are lovely in 4-way.

Home decorating is best done only in 2-way stretch PVC, with the stretch arranged horizontally to prevent the hemline from sagging over time.

When picking a pattern, take the following factors into account: stretch requirements, pressing directions, and whether or not the design cut includes darts.

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