3 Things To Know Before Sewing With Lycra

3 Things To Know Before Sewing With Lycra

I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel and write a whole post about how to sew with Lycra. But it seems like some of you are still nervous; so here are the most important things that I’ve learned.

3 Things To Know Before Sewing With Lycra

3 Things To Know Before Sewing With Lycra| SewsNBows

Select Suitable Patterns

Read the suggested fabrics. If your pattern is not designed for 4 way stretch, be prepared to size down or add negative ease.

Mccalls 6275 leggings are designed specifically for 2 way stretch knits, such as or stretch lace or jersey. Patterns designed for 4 way stretch fabric (like Lycra) would have a lot more negative ease; meaning that they run smaller to account for all that stretchiness. I made these leggings a size smaller but kept the length in order to get a nice, fitted legging.

I’m working on a list of patterns that work great with Lycra, watch for that soon!

McCalls 6275: Girls Leggings in a Lycra from Funki Fabrics

Know your Machine & What Tools You Need

My first sewing machine would not sew Lycra. Maybe it would’ve, but I wasn’t going to get down on my knees and beg. (My first attempt at sewing Lycra was a witch costume. I ended up gluing it. No lie.) My current sewing machine loves Lycra. I don’t need any special  attachments ; I sew it just as easily as any knit fabric. I’d say Lycra is easier than lightweight jersey any day of the week.

Some machines may work better with a walking foot or special needle plate. The only way to know is to experiment. Don’t run out and buy every attachment you think you need. Find some old bike shorts or something and mess around with them. Get comfortable. Learn what stitches work best, and for Pete’s sake use the right needle. It really makes all the difference in the world. Here is a quick post with some basics for sewing with Lycra: Sewing Spandex Tips on Craftsy.

Want more comprehensive tips? Read Serger Pepper’s 30 Best Tips For Sewing Knits With A Serger & Sewing Machine . Irene at Serger Pepper loves using her serger for Lycra, but shys away from twin needles. My serger doesn’t hold tension real well, so I don’t use it as a main construction method, ever. I love the hell outta my double needles though! Experiment to find what works best for you and your equipment.

3 Things To Know Before Sewing With Lycra

Choose Fabric Wisely

I’m fairly new to sewing with Lycra. Experience with knits has made me more confident. I can tell you that my sewing machine upgrade this year has also made a world of difference; although I’m not using anything super fancy or expensive. But one of my biggest lessons has been to use quality fabric.

The different fibers and chemical processes used to make spandex mean endless variations in quality, weight, and durability. If you are shopping in store; read the fiber content. I like a nylon or polyester content for sturdier garments. I’m not super knowledgeable about weight and fiber content, so I use my judgement. If I can hold the fabric a few inches from my face and see through it, I’ll pass. If it doesn’t bounce right back into shape after stretching, it’s not for me. The really cheap stuff in the costume section is barely suitable for costumes; and it is a PAIN to sew with.

If you don’t feel like guessing, I recommend ordering from FunkiFabrics. They produce quality fabric for garments that will last. It’s designed and printed on site in the UK. This stuff is suitable for daily clothing, and tough enough for dance and swimwear. Plus, there is more variety than anywhere else online.

McCalls 6275 | Leggings in printed Lycra from FunkiFabrics

I love how the colors pop on these leggings I made. FunkiFabrics designs some wild prints that make me want to knock off the entire Black Milk clothing line.

McCalls 6275 | Leggings in printed Lycra from FunkiFabrics

Kids are getting in on the action too. Justice is carrying really wild spandex leggings. But if you sew you can make your own:)

Diy Spandex Leggings McCalls 6275: knock off Black Milk and Justice and make your own!

Click the image below to shop FunkiFabrics!

About The Author

Amy Mayen

Hello. I'm Amy and I'm addicted to sewing. I borderline-hoard fabric, buttons, & patterns. Sometimes I wish I could pile my fabric up on the floor and just roll in it!


  1. Christine

    If you are looking for amazing patterns for spandex try boo designs in Australia. Kristie is amazing her patterns are so professional, easy to use, modern and funky they are a perfect match for your favourite spandex

  2. Sew Orbit

    I’ll always find it hard to sew with lycra. Thanks for providing tips to handle lycra. Amy, thanks for sharing this awesome post.


  3. Elden Gatley

    I agree that spandex allow for lots of variety. I think that is probably why they’re so popular. I see what you mean, though, about nylon and polyester being very durable.

  4. Veronica Marks

    I’ve been wanting to make some of my own leggings this holiday break, so this is a great article for me to have found right now! I have never sewn with Lycra, so it sounds like I’ll have to experiment a bit, like you suggested. I’m excited to try it out, and really appreciate your tips!

  5. Justine

    Great post Amy! Thanks for the tips about 4 way stretch vs 2 way stretch. Those leggings are outta sight! Your sewing looks really professional. I’m so sorry I am taking so long to get the fabric in the mail. The post office was packed and I was in a hurry and now I can’t get it in the mail til after xmas. It’ll get there! Merry Christmas.

  6. Amy of while wearing heels

    That is some wild and fabulous fabric. I love that you experiment with different fabrics. Nothing ever seems to scare you.
    Amy of while wearing heels recently posted…Christmas CardsMy Profile

  7. Gina

    The twins and I went shopping tonight and wild leggings are everywhere and clothes seem to have an 80’s vibe. Thanks for the tips, you’re so awesome for sharing!!! Merry Christmas Friend!!!!!
    Gina recently posted…Finish it Up Friday: There’s a Mouse In the House!My Profile

  8. Pam @Threading My Way

    I have to start making my own leggings instead of buying them. I’ll probably stick to my standard black, but I do love the bright colours on kids. Thanks for all the tips.
    Pam @Threading My Way recently posted…Threading Your Way ~ Features…My Profile

    • Amy Mayen

      Haha!! I caught my little girl looking at fabric online the other day. I’ve never been both so excited and terrified at the same time!! I totally know what you mean!!

  9. Sue @ A Colourful Canvas

    Okay, now that was a fun website!! Years, many many years, ago I sewed workout and swimwear (supposedly for profit, haha) and could NOT find very much lycra at all! Then the Internet was invited, :), and the world changed! I think 2015 is going to be a fun sewing lycra sewing year…I just hope shipping isn’t too pricey from the UK.

    I’m confused, :)….this isn’t Bella in the photos, right? And I missed who Zoey is too…
    Sue @ A Colourful Canvas recently posted…MAI TAIS : : MACADAMIA NUTS : : AND MY MAUI MAXI DRESSMy Profile


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