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How To Sew Spandex Fabric

Spandex is a great fabric for garments that need to stretch with your body. It has been a favorite for dance costumes, gymnastics outfits, skating costumes, exercise wear, and swimwear since it was introduced in the 1950s. This fabric is easy to care for, but it requires a little finesse to sew.

Spandex stretches four ways. This gives it its practicality for active wear; however, it is also what makes it somewhat tricky to sew. Here are some tips to help you sew Spandex with ease:

1. Use a new needle

A standard sewing machine needle, size 11 or 14 can work well for Spandex. If your machine accepts them, you might also want to try a stretch needle, which is specially designed to prevent skipped stitches while sewing Spandex. Again use size 11 or 14.

2. Test stitches

Most machines have several stretch stitches. Before you begin sewing your Spandex garment, use a scrape of the Spandex to test out your stitches. Adjust the stitch length and tension, so that the stitches look right and the fabric does not pucker.

3. Guide the fabric while slightly stretched

Puckering is a problem when sewing Spandex. Remember to keep the fabric slightly stretched as you guide it under the needle, but never pull it.

4. Use a straight stitch needle plate

Spandex has a tendency to pull down into the feed dogs. You may want to change your machine’s needle plate to a straight stitch needle plate when sewing delicate fabrics such as Spandex. Straight stitch needle plates feature a small needle hole and are designed to prevent fabrics from pulling down into them. If you don’t have a straight stitch needle plate or your machine doesn’t accept them, placing small pieces of tape at the front and back of the needle hole in your machine’s plate to decrease its size can be helpful.

See spandex in action in How to Make an Infinity Dress.

sewing-spandex Sewing an infinity dress with 9 Oz Poly Spandex Fabric

Useful Links

Ready to try it out? Find spandex fabric here.


Q & A

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Browse 5 questions Browse 5 questions and 2 answers
I am stitching a hem in pants with nylon, rayon and spandex fabric ---- stitches skip - what needle, thread is best ?
A shopper on Oct 13, 2017
BEST ANSWER: A stretch needle is best because it is designed to prevent skipped stitches, but a ballpoint needle can work too. A size 11 or 14 needle and regular polyester thread is fine. Good luck!
I have a babylock sewing machine and can not find the right tension for sewing spandex or stretch fabric. Can you help? Thanks.
A shopper on Apr 13, 2018
BEST ANSWER: Sorry, we're not familiar with Baby Lock sewing machines. We suggest contacting Baby Lock.
I have an antique singer, tried ballpoint needles, stretch needles, different stitches, tensions, everything and it still doesn't sew it at all, how can I fix this?
A shopper on Sep 20, 2018
How to alter stretchy lycra-type top?
A shopper on Sep 11, 2018
When I sew spandex and stretch it, the threads all pop. How do I prevent this? Thanks.
A shopper on Aug 14, 2018