How to sew stretchy fabric: Different types of stretch fabrics

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Sewing stretch fabric can seem daunting if you are new to the sewing machine. Learning how to sew stretch fabrics is as easy as learning the right techniques and practicing hard. Here’s a list of techniques you can use to sew a variety of clothing items made from stretchy fabrics.

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8 Types Of Stretch Fabrics

Elastane, a synthetic stretchy fibre, is a common component of stretch fabric. It is also used in garment production. It is flexible and can shrink back to its original form, making it comfortable to wear. Here are some popular options for stretch materials to use in your next sewing project:

  1. Two-way stretch fabrics for knitting: These two-way stretch fabrics can be used by sewers to make rib knit sweaters or tank tops. They are either long- or short-stretch, but not both. A lightweight, breathable jersey knit is a popular choice for making T-shirts.
  2. Neoprene: Neoprene, a thick and stretchy fabric made of synthetic fibers, is one example. Neoprene is popular for making scuba gear and wetsuits due to its high compressibility. Because this synthetic fabric is difficult to thread with a regular sewing machine needle, beginners should choose textiles with lighter thicknesses.
  3. Spandex: Because of its high elastane, spandex has become a very popular stretch fabric. Because it can stretch up five times its original size, spandex is a popular choice for high-performance activewear.
  4. Spandex blends: Spandex mixes are a mix of synthetic (like rayon or nylon) and natural fibers (like spandex) for textural contrast and stretch. For swimwear and sportswear, nylon spandex and cotton poplin are the best choices. Rayon spandex can be used to create form-fitting dresses with a beautiful drape.
  5. Stretch denim: Unlike classic denim, which is rigid and crisp, stretch denim can expand to meet the contours of your body. It can be stretched horizontally or vertically in four directions.
  6. Stretch lace: This stretchy lace form is popular for women’s lingerie, dresses and skirts.
  7. Stretch satin: While classic satin is stiff, the stretch satin version has more give. The result? Comfortable evening wear and blouses that fit comfortably on the body.
  8. Stretch velvet: This fabric is similar to stretch denim and has a four-way stretch. It’s a versatile choice for garments with high movement such as dancewear.

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How to sew stretchy fabric

Although sewing stretchy fabrics can seem difficult at first, it is possible to make many different garments by learning how to use these versatile textiles. These tips will help you sew stretch fabric easily.

Select the right needle and thread. When working with elastic fabrics, you can use either a ballpoint or stretch needle to load your machine. They are better suited for this material than universal needles. Both types will work but the best option for elastic fabrics such as pure spandex is to use stretch needles. Polyester thread is better than basic cotton thread, which can cause fabric to bunch and has less give. It has more stretch and creates smoother seams.

Choose the right stitch. Use a suitable stitch when sewing stretch fabrics. An overlock or serger machine creates an expanding looped stitches that is perfect for finishing stretchy fabric. It also makes it easy to hem without sacrificing stretch.

The fabric should be flattened. Extra-flexible stretch fabric may expand when you sew it. This can lead to bunched hems and inaccurate measurements. Lay the fabric flat on the surface you prefer, regardless of whether you are measuring or sewing hems. Don’t let the sides of your fabric touch the edge of the table. This can affect the accuracy of your measurements and/or stitches. Remember that stretch fabric edges tend to curl inwards once cut, so it is important to hem it correctly. Fold the fabric inwards with the seam allowance. Press the iron and sew the edges as usual.

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Preshrink your fabric. Prewash stretchy fabrics before you cut and sew them. Your fabric will not shrink if it is washed and dried properly.

Adjust or replace the presser feet. Adjust the pressure on your presser foot (the attachment to your sewing machine that holds the fabric in its place) so that the fabric doesn’t stretch. You can also replace the attachment with a walking feet attachment that allows you to feed more material to prevent it from stretching.

Do your best to practice. Stretch fabric can take some time to become comfortable for beginners. If you are starting a project with stretchy fabric, it is important to notice what variables (like attachments, sewing patterns and fabrics, needle length and stitch width) work well together. You’ll soon be able to create some of your most favorite pieces.

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