How to Sew Spandex Fabric - ICE FABRICS

Are you thinking of creating your own swimsuits, dance costumes, or activewear? Then you know that one essential feature these garments have in common is their stretchiness, right? Well, that's where spandex comes in. This fabric is perfect for such projects, but working with it can be quite challenging due to its high elasticity.

Luckily, there are ways to make sewing spandex a breeze! Sure, a serger machine can make the process easier, but even with a regular sewing machine, you can achieve great results with the right techniques in your arsenal. So, don't let the stretch factor intimidate you - get ready to create some amazing, flexible clothes with spandex! In this guide, we will provide complete details on How to Sew Spandex Fabric.

Materials and Tools Needed

  • Spandex fabric
  • Ballpoint or stretch needle (size 75/11 or 90/14)
  • Polyester thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Pins or clips
  • Seam ripper
  • Measuring tape
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Pattern paper or tracing paper

How to Sew Spandex Fabric.

Step 1: Preparing Your Spandex Fabric

Before you start sewing, it is important to prepare your spandex fabric. This involves washing and drying your fabric, as well as laying it out and cutting it to size.

Washing and Drying Spandex Fabric:

  • Hand Wash your spandex fabric in cold water with a mild detergent. Avoid using bleach or fabric softeners, as they can damage the fabric.
  • Rinse your fabric thoroughly and gently squeeze out any excess water. Do not wring or twist the fabric because this can cause it to stretch out of shape.
  • Lay your spandex fabric flat to dry. Avoid hanging it to prevent the fabric from stretching.
  • Once your fabric is dry, you can press it lightly with a cool iron to remove any wrinkles.
Cutting Spandex Fabric:
  • Spandex fabric can be slippery and difficult to cut, so it is important to use sharp scissors or a rotary cutter.
  • Lay your fabric flat on your cutting surface and smooth out any wrinkles or folds.
  • Pin or weigh down your fabric to keep it in place.
  • Use a pattern or trace your own pattern onto pattern paper or tracing paper. Be sure to mark any notches or darts.
  • Carefully cut out your pattern pieces using sharp scissors or a rotary cutter. Take your time to ensure accuracy.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Needle and Thread

When sewing with spandex fabric, it is important to choose the right needle and thread.

Do you know What sewing needle is best for spandex?  If no, then the answer is a ballpoint needle. A ballpoint is recommended as it is designed to penetrate the fabric without damaging or breaking the fibers. A size 75/11 or 90/14 needle is recommended depending on the thickness of your fabric.

Do you need special thread to sew spandex? Yes, you need special thread, such as Polyester thread, that is recommended for sewing spandex as it has some stretch and is durable. Cotton thread is not recommended as it does not have stretch and can break easily when sewing with spandex.

Step 3: Setting Up Your Sewing Machine

Before you start sewing, it is important to set up your sewing machine correctly. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Thread your sewing machine with the recommended polyester thread.
  • Install a ballpoint or stretch needle in your sewing machine.
  • Adjust your stitch length to 2.5mm or smaller to avoid stretching the fabric too much.
  • Set your machine to a stretch stitch or a narrow zigzag stitch. This will allow your stitches to stretch with the fabric without breaking.
  • Adjust your tension if necessary to ensure that your stitches are even and not too loose or too tight.

Step 4: Choosing and Testing Your Stitching

Before you start sewing your actual project, it's important to choose the right stitch to test your stitching on a scrap piece of fabric first. This will help you determine the right stitch length and tension for your spandex fabric.

What stitch to use for spandex fabric?

When working with spandex fabric, it is important to choose the right stitch to ensure that the fabric stretches properly and the seams do not break. Here are some stitches that are suitable for spandex:

  1. Zigzag Stitch: A zigzag stitch is a good choice for spandex fabric because it allows for a bit of stretch in the seam. Set your sewing machine to a narrow zigzag stitch and a medium stitch length, and test on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure the stitch is not too tight or too loose.
  2. Three-Step Zigzag Stitch: This stitch is similar to the regular zigzag stitch, but it provides even more stretch. It's a great choice for areas where there will be a lot of movement, such as the crotch of a pair of leggings.
  3. Stretch Stitch: Many sewing machines have a stretch stitch option, which is specifically designed for use with stretchy fabrics like spandex. This stitch looks like a straight stitch with a zigzag pattern on top, and it provides excellent stretch and recovery.

    When testing your stitching, use the same thread and needle you'll be using for your actual project. Sew a few stitches on the scrap fabric, then stretch it in all directions. If the stitches break or pucker, adjust your tension and stitch length until you get the right amount of stretch.

    Expand your knowledge on What is Spandex Fabric

    Step 5: Keep a Little Stretch

    When sewing spandex fabric, it's important to keep the fabric slightly stretched as you sew it. This will help prevent the fabric from puckering or getting wavy. To do this, hold the fabric behind and in front of the needle, gently stretching it as you sew.

    However, be careful not to pull the fabric too hard. If you pull too much, it can cause the fabric to stretch out of shape, which will ruin your project.

    Step 6: Use Paper as a Stabilizer

    Using paper as a stabilizer is an effective way to prevent spandex fabric from stretching out of shape. To use this technique, sandwich the fabric between two pieces of paper and pin it in place. Then, sew along the edges of the paper, treating it as if it were part of the fabric.



    Does spandex fray?

    Spandex is a synthetic fabric made from a blend of polyurethane and polyester fibers. Unlike natural fabrics like cotton or silk, spandex is less prone to fraying due to its elasticity and durability.

    Can you sew spandex on a sewing machine?

    Yes, you can sew spandex on a sewing machine using a stretch or ballpoint needle, a zigzag stitch, and adjusting the tension and stitch length. It's important to use the right needle and thread to avoid breaking or damaging the fabric.

    How to hand stitch spandex?

    Hand stitching spandex can be done using a stretch or ballpoint needle and a stretchable thread like polyester or nylon. It's recommended to use a backstitch or a stretch stitch and avoid pulling the fabric too tightly to maintain its stretchiness.

    What presser foot is best for spandex?

    The best presser foot for sewing spandex is a walking foot or a roller foot, as they help to feed the fabric evenly and prevent stretching or puckering. A stretch or ballpoint needle can also be used to avoid damaging the fabric.

    How to sew spandex fabric by hand?

    If you want to sew spandex fabric by hand then you can use a stretch or ballpoint needle and a stretchable thread. It's recommended to use a backstitch or a stretch stitch and to avoid pulling the fabric too tightly to maintain its stretchiness. It may also help to use a thimble to avoid injuring your fingers while sewing.