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Emma Jason
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Top Tips For Sewing Spandex

Spandex has been the go-to material for making swimsuit and athletic garments for decades. It is usually mixed with cotton and the like to take advantage of both. However, as spandex stretches a lot, which makes it perfect for these applications, working with it as sewists might be a bit tricky.

If you own serger things will get easier but if you do not, here I will show you how to manage it with a regular sewing machine.

I have seen many sewists get confused between Spandex and Lycra and sometimes use the two terms interchangeably. Lycra is actually a brand name. The manufacturer is DuPont so Lycra is Spandex but not all Spandex can be called Lycra.

What Can Spandex Be Used For

Spandex is widely used in hospitality, apparel, and industrial field. Among them, the apparel industry calls for the largest amount of this material. Sometimes spandex can be used to make covers for chairs and tables.

For home applications, you can sew spandex with a best sewing machine for beginners making clothes. Such top sewing machines for beginners can be found here. Check it out.

Spandex as sporting garments

Spandex is also well-loved by interior designers and event planners as it allows them to create a modern look to any space or event. A spandex table cloth can cover all of the table’s dimensions, so it has an edge over a linen variety.

Spandex’s stretchiness ensures that any items made from it can stand the test of time and frequent use. Spandex does not shrink as much as some other materials, which is another benefit.

The quality that makes spandex the ideal material for table and chair covering also explains why it is one of the staple material for industrial use. The rubber components or items made from rubber can take spandex instead.

In the medical field, spandex is often used to make tubing, hosing, and supporting products like back braces. At home, spandex can be found in microbead pillows so example.

In the apparel industry, spandex is widely used to make sporting items like accessories and clothing. Spandex is flexible and elastic so it is the ideal material to make clothing for cyclists and runners. Spandex has a special property that allows it to reduce the effect of wind resistance, which is appreciated by competitive runners or cyclists in races where a second can make a difference between winning and losing.

For other sports, spandex is useful too. As spandex garments allow wearers to move freely but still ensure a high level of support, it is used to make sports bras. Other than garments, spandex also appears in balls for football of volleyball.

Top Tips To Sew Spandex

Spandex has a wide range of application and what makes it so versatile is also what challenge sewists who decide to make a project out of it. Here are some useful tips to make your life easier when sewing spandex:

  • Spandex has a grain line which you should definitely locate. However, no matter where it is, you want to make sure that the fabric stretch along your body.
  • Do not use a universal needle on spandex, instead, use a ballpoint. Always use a new needle to make sure it is at the best state. If your machine allows, use a stretch needle as this is the best choice for spandex. The last option can prevent skipped stitches so I highly recommend using it. For a list of machines that allow using stretch needles, read this article on Who Makes The Best Rated Sewing Machines For Beginners Available Today to find out.
  • Spandex does not tolerate holes so if you need to pin, ensure that you put the pins in the seam allowance. Holes on spandex will stay there forever so remember this point.
  • Improper tension and stitch length can result in puckered seams so always test on a piece of scrap first and make an adjustment when you feel needed. I often cut out the pattern first so that I have plenty of scraps to test on.
  • Set your machine to sew straight stitches and zigzag stitches. When you are done, stretch the scrap a bit. If the stitches break, you might want to change the setting until the stitches can hold. This is the most important thing to do before you sew spandex to make sure your project can last.
  • As with other stretchy fabrics, the stabilizer is required to make your life easier. Anything from regular paper, wax paper to tissue paper can do. When you work on the project, make a sandwich of two layers stabilizer and the spandex in between to prevent the presser foot and the feed dog to apply too much force on the project.
  • This is not compulsory but if you can, use twin needle when hemming to have a neater finish. If your machine does have this function, consult the manual for instruction on how to thread them. A serger can be handy here but if you do not have one, that is not a big problem though.
  • Spandex is best sewn when it is stretched a bit. Hold it in front and behind the presser foot but remember not to pull it too much.
  • If you have a straight stitch needle plate, use it. Spandex can be pulled down and make your seams look puckered.
  • To be extra careful and ensure that your seams can hold when the project is stretched, consider using polyester thread on top and wooly nylon in the bobbin. Do not use anything with cotton in it as will not stretch enough. Remember to hand-wind the bobbin as this is the best way to treat wooly nylon.
  • If what you make will have to endure a lot of force, for example, sports garments, you may want to stabilize some parts of the project.

With these above tips, you can sew spandex on almost any machine. However, to make sure that you have the best spandex project possible, consult this Quick Guide To What Is A Good Sewing Machine For Beginners And Novice Sewers for a list of competent machines.

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