This work investigates the T-peel behavior of a flexible polymer using digital image correlation (DIC). In particular, the method enabled the direct observation of the full-field strain of the T-peel system in fabrics coated with thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers. The strain field is divided into three parts defined as the high-strain zone, low-strain zone, and far-field zone. The correlation between the strain variation and the load-displacement curve can be used to identify the full-field beginning of the peeling process, which is defined as the “peel initiation.” Furthermore, a model is developed to predict the strain variation as a function of the load. To validate this model, the calculated strain in the root region is compared with the experimental results measured by DIC and is found to be in excellent agreement. Finally, to address the inhomogeneity of the strain distribution, an engineering index based on the relative displacement of the upper and lower peeling arms is proposed to evaluate the deformation inhomogeneity. It is found that the index increases exponentially near the welded zone. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 55:196–204, 2015. © 2014 Society of Plastics Engineers