Have you been spending a fortune on leotards for your kid’s dance, gymnastics and cheer leotards and costumes? Did you know that sewing spandex and Lycra on your regular sewing machine is easy with a little practice and a few simple tips.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LYCRA & SPANDEX?
So what is the difference between 4-way stretch, Sspandex, Elastane and Lycra?
In dance and swimwear fabrics, the terms Lycra, Elastane and spandex are often used interchangeably. Lycra is simply the brand name for synthetic spandex stretch fibers produced by the company DuPont. Lycra considered to be of high quality and has great stretch recovery. This means when you repeatedly stretch the fabric it will always return to its original position. No one wants a saggy swimsuit or leotard!
When buying your leotard or swim fabrics give it a good stretch and see if it goes back to its original position. Also, hold it up to the light and give it a stretch. Many fabrics can become transparent once they stretch around the body and will need to be lined.
CUTTING SPANDEX, ELASTANE & LYCRA
Use these tips to get the best results when cutting Lycra or spandex fabrics.
- Make sure that the fabric stays flat and is not stretched when cutting.
- Always use an extra sharp pair of scissors on your fabrics to ensure the edges are neat and your fabric is not stretched out of shape as you cut.
- Test to see if pins leave marks in your fabric. If they do use pattern weights or cans from your pantry to weight down the pattern before cutting. Alternatively, keep all pins within the seam allowances so any marks will be hidden once your garment is sewn.
- You often will get the minimum fabric wastage by cutting the pieces one at a time and refolding the fabric.
- IMPORTANT – The greatest direction of stretch should go around the body. In some circumstances, the greatest direction of stretch may down the fabric and not across as is usual. If this is the case you may need to rotate the pattern pieces.
SEWING SPANDEX & LYCRA
The main thing you need to know when sewing spandex and Lycra is that your seams need to have the same stretch qualities as your fabric. If it doesn’t then stitches may break in your finished leotard when your kids start bending and stretching in their routines. Regardless of whether you use a regular machine or serger, always test a scrap first.
Sewing Spandex and Lycra with a serger
- If you have a serger you can just serge the edges without having to do an additional stitch to hold the seam. Serging means the seams will have built-in elasticity.
- You will probably still need to stretch the fabric slightly as you sew to maintain maximum stretchiness.
Sewing lycra with a regular machine
- Use a stretch machine needle – If you use a regular sewing needle in your machine it may cause skipped stitches.
- 100% polyester thread usually works better than a cotton thread for spandex fabrics as it is less likely to break or rot with sweat or chlorine.
- When you start sewing, make sure you hold the ends of the threads tight so your fabric does not get caught in the dog feed of your machine.
- My preferred stitch for seams is the basic zig-zag stitch. Just set it to a narrow width stitch. Try on a scrap of fabric a width of 0.5 – 1.0 and a length of 3.0.
- Keep the fabric slightly stretched as you sew but be careful not to pull too hard as you may break a needle.
- Finishing the seams: Lycra does not generally fray but in areas of high stress, an extra row of wide zig-zag on the edge can add strength and durability to your garment. It can also give a nice professional look to your seams. Try a width of 3-4 and a length of 3.
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This is just a selection of my leotard patterns. I have more to choose from in my sewing patterns shop. All leotard patterns can be used for dance, gymnastics, swimming, costumes and just for fun!