Sewing Stretchy Fabric

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NSC Question

Hi – many thanks for your regular updates! I have been having problems sewing Lycra or any fabric that stretches. Do you have any advice on how to sew stretchy fabrics?

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NSC Answer

When sewing with stretchy fabrics, one of the most important things to consider is your needle. Using the correct needled will make all the difference. For Lycra or any other stretchy fabric, you should sew using a “jersey” or “stretch” needle.

Check out these videos for some more tips on needle selection and sewing with stretchy fabrics:

Choosing the Right Sewing Machine Needles

How to Sew a Swim Skirt

How to Sew a Knit Pencil Skirt

Happy sewing!

Ashley


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Discussion
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22 Responses to “Sewing Stretchy Fabric”
  1. Dolores

    How can I sew on thermal shirts without causing them to waffle and stretch out of shape

    Reply
    • National Sewing Circle

      Hi Dolores. Stretching can occur when stitching fabric if it is being pulled or pushed through the machine. Make sure you are allowing the feed dogs to pull the fabric through the machine. Also, make sure you are using the correct needle for the type of fabric being stitched. If these things do not work, consider using a stabilizer on the seams. You can either baste a stabilizer in place along the seams being stitched or you can use another kind of removable stabilizer.
      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  2. Melanie

    Cut strips of plain white gift wrapping tissue into strips. Use a strip between the fabric and the feed dogs. I stumbled onto this while trying to find something to keep nylon tricky from creeping to the side while sewing it. Once done, gently tear the tissue away away from the stitching. You may have use a tweezer for a few small pieces, but the time and aggravation saved are well worth it. It works just as well on any stretch fabric and also prevents stretching of the fabric while sewing. I don’t even attempt to sew these types of fabric without the tissue any more. Just think of it as a stabilizer for sewing instead of for embroidery. Use a rotary cutter, cut a bunch of strips, and keep them handy. You will love them.

    Reply
  3. Linda

    Hi, I am wondering how to sew for someone with special needs. Like someone who has a dowers hump or someone who has scoliosis where a shoulder is higher on one side. How would I adjust a pattern? Does your website teach or have tips addressing this issue?

    Reply
  4. Enis Munoz

    I had some knit fabric that ran after I cut it out. Why does that happen and how do you prevent it from running. I used clear nail polish to stop the runs, but I would have preferred that it didn’t run.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Carol. An easy way to do this is to lay the plastic or rubber on tissue paper. It will allow it to slide evenly under the presser foot over the plate and can easily be torn away after.
      Hope this helps!
      Ashley

      Reply
  5. Betsy Johnson

    Hello, I made a t-shirt quilt for my daughter. I stabilized the squares before sewing but she said that she sometimes hears the thread breaking when she’s using it. Is there a specific kind of thread that should be used when sewing stretchy fabric?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Betsy,

      Yes, I would recommend using polyester thread when sewing stretchy fabrics as opposed to cotton thread. Polyester thread has just a bit of stretch to it so it will stand up better in a project like the t shirt quilt.

      Hope this helps!
      Cheers,
      Ashley NSC Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special offer for your first year membership. http://go.nationalsewingcircle.com/C8337

      Reply
  6. Theresa Mahaffey

    In addition to using a stretch, jersey or ball point needle add a roller pressed foot. I find more often than not that the presser foot presser and friction is pushing and the feed dogs are pulling in opposite directions which causes these stretchy k it’s to waffle or curl. Not every machine allows the user to adjust the presser foot pressure to balance the push and pull. By switching the presser foot out and using a roller foot, the presser foot stops fighting with the feed dogs and it rolls over the fabric smoothly. Another useful foot is a walking foot.

    My number one favorite machine to use for sewing knits of any kind is a serger. My Bernina allows me to adjust the feed dogs and the presser of the pressure foot. The seam a serger creates also allows for the stretch and give a knit garment needs, preventing popping or breaking the seams.

    Reply
  7. Erlinda Reyes

    I’m sewing a knit long pencil skirt. Do I need to sew the front and back tucks or just attach the elastic band to waist measurement.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Erlinda,

      Since you are using a knit fabric that has some stretch to it you can attach the elastic waistband without adding the darts at the front and the back, however adding the darts will make it look more like the pencil skirt style.

      Cheers,
      Ashley NSC Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first year membership.

      http://go.nationalquilterscircle.com/C8449

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Erlinda,

      This depends on the look you want for your skirt. If you add the front and back tucks to the skirt before attaching it to the waistband (as long as your fabric has enough stretch ) it will look more like a pencil skirt. If you do not add the front and back tucks you may end up with a more gathered look at the waistband. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Ashley NSC Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first year membership.

      http://go.nationalsewingcircle.com/C8447

      Reply
    • Marcia

      Hi Erlinda,
      It depends on how stretchy your knit is:
      If the knit is very stretchy, that is, if you can pull the waist measurement of the knit over your hips without stretching the knit beyond its tear point, you can cut the knit in a curve from your hips to your waist. Otherwise, you will probably need to use the darts for a smoother look.

      Reply
    • Marcia

      Hi Dolores,
      Unfortunately I don’t think there is such a presser foot, I wish there was. I have sewn many garments, including Barbie clothes, that could surely use a smaller width presser foot. The best I have come up with is what is called a “zipper” foot. The zipper foot has needle openings on both sides of the foot instead of the middle. They look like this: (Available from Amazon)
      Zipper Sewing Machine Presser Foot for Low Shank Snap on Singer Brother Babylock Janome Kenmore White Juki New Home Simplicity Elna Husqvarna Janome Bernina
      Once you see what it looks like, I am sure you can find one either in a store or online to use on your sewing machine. It’s not perfect, but it works with tiny spaces. Hope this helps, Marcia

      Reply