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How to Sew Lycra on a Conventional Machine

Updated February 21, 2019

Lycra fabrics are commonly used for swimwear and leotards; however, it is common to find some percentage of Lycra added to other knits for comfort and stretch. Sewing fabrics like Lycra on conventional sewing machines poses some special challenges. Learn how to manage these fabrics on your machine to expand your sewing options and get good results from all of your Lycra sewing projects.

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  1. Use a T-square to carefully even the grain of your fabric. Lay out your pattern so it is positioned with the stretch in the Lycra wrapping around the body. Pin carefully and cut using very sharp scissors or an extremely sharp rotary cutter.

  2. Put a fresh needle into the sewing machine. Use a ballpoint needle to sew Lycra and nylon blends or a stretch-type needle for sewing other kinds of Lycra fabrics.

  3. Wind a bobbin with good quality polyester thread. Wind slowly to avoid overstretching the thread. Thread the machine with polyester sewing thread.

  4. Set your sewing machine to a narrow zigzag stitch to provide adequate stretch and a neat seam when sewing Lycra on conventional machines.

  5. Try sewing Lycra on a small sample of fabric. Look for rippling or puckering in the seam, as well as skipped stitches. Adjust the tension on your sewing machine to correct skipped stitches.

  6. Stabilise the seam to avoid puckering. Cut a thin strip of tissue paper and place it between the fabric and sew the seam, stitching through both layers of Lycra fabric as well as the tissue paper. Rip away the tissue once the seam is sewn.

  7. Tip

    Always pre-wash or preshrink Lycra fabrics.

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Things You'll Need

  • Sharp, fine pins
  • Very sharp scissors or rotary cutter
  • T-square
  • Fresh sewing machine needle, ballpoint or stretch
  • Good-quality polyester thread
  • Thin tissue paper

About the Author

Michelle Powell-Smith

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.

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