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
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!
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.
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.
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.
Kids are getting in on the action too. Justice is carrying really wild spandex leggings. But if you sew you can make your own:)
Click the image below to shop FunkiFabrics!