Sewing spandex can be intimidating, but it's really easy - it's all technique! Here, I show how to sew spandex. with or without a serger.
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Stretch Sewing Needles
When sewing any seam on spandex - with any type of machine - hold the two pieces together, with the right sides facing each other (some exceptions apply - such as with sewing Spandex Applique).
Before you start sewing, stretch the fabric. I hold the fabric in two places: my left hand is holding on to the garment BEHIND the sewing machine, the right hand is holding on to it in front of the machine.
Stretch the fabric in both directions (both pulling away from the machine), and hold it steady.
You do not want to jerk the fabric, let go of your tension, or pull the fabric away from the machine in only one direction. If you do any of these, you run the risk of breaking the needle.Just stretch the fabric, and hold that degree of stretch throughout the seam.
Anyway, holding your edges together, sew along the side of fabric. I find the right side of the presser foot to be a great guide for seam allowances, on both traditional machines and sergers.
If you MUST release the stretch at any point, stop the machine first. Adjust as needed and stretch - and HOLD - before starting the machine up again. You don’t want to pull the fabric out from under the needle at all, just feed a tautly stretched span of fabric through
How to Sew Spandex Without a Serger
First off - sergers may be great for sewing spandex, but if you don’t have one, no worries - a regular sewing machine will work just fine, with the right technique.
Stitch Settings: Go for a relatively short stitch. A longer stitch will be loose and loopy, when you stop stretching it.
At the starting point of your seam, sew a few stitches, then hit the reverse function and back over them. This acts as an anchor.
Stretch the fabric as described above, and sew the seam.
For zig zagging a finish to the seam, set your stitch width to be quite wide. I usually like using the widest stitch possible.
Your stitch length should be medium-ish. A long length won’t allow for much stretch, and a very short stitch length will cause a lot of curling in the seam.
Stretch the fabric well, and sew a zig zag stitch as close as you can get to the edge, slightly over it . The outer peaks of the zig zag should bind the edges of the fabric as it goes.
Not only does this zig zag row add a little more strength to the seam, it finishes it and just plain looks better!
How to Sew Spandex With A Serger
Generally speaking, I set my differential feed to neutral - NOT a stretch stitch - and use a medium stitch length for body seams (and a longer stitch length for elastic application). Again, use the stretching technique describe above, when feeding your fabric through the serger.
Whichever machine you have available, and whatever stitch you chose, just be sure to hold and stretch your fabric as described a bit earlier, and you’ll be fine!