Lycra spandex, a favorite among designers and athletes, is celebrated for its exceptional stretch and resilience. This fabric's unique properties make it ideal for activewear, dance costumes, and swimwear, but it poses specific challenges when sewing. Proper techniques are crucial to achieving professional-looking results without damaging the fabric. In this article, we'll explore the best methods and tips for sewing Lycra spandex to help you create durable and stylish garments.

At Rexing Sports, exceptional activewear begins with high-quality fabric and craftsmanship. Our commitment to using premium materials like Lycra spandex ensures that our products offer the best performance, comfort, and durability. We understand the importance of sewing techniques and fabric care in maintaining the quality of Lycra garments. 

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Understand Lycra Spandex Fabric and Its Sewing Requirements

Lycra spandex is a synthetic fabric composed of a polyurethane-polyurea copolymer. This composition gives it incredible stretch, allowing it to expand up to five times its original length and then return to its original shape. Its elasticity, durability, and moisture-wicking properties make it an excellent choice for sportswear and form-fitting clothing.

how to sew lycra leggings

However, these same properties require careful handling during sewing. The right thread, needle, and machine settings are essential to prevent skipped stitches, puckering, and fabric damage. Lycra's smooth surface and stretchiness can make it challenging to work with, but understanding its characteristics can help you manage these challenges effectively.

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How to Choose the Right Thread for Sewing Lycra

Selecting the right thread is critical for sewing Lycra spandex. A compatible thread will provide the necessary strength and elasticity without compromising the fabric's stretch.

Polyester Thread:

This is the most recommended thread for sewing Lycra due to its strength and slight elasticity. Brands like Gutermann and Coats offer high-quality polyester threads that work well with Lycra. Polyester thread can stretch slightly, which helps maintain the integrity of your seams as the fabric stretches.

polyester thread

Nylon Thread:

Nylon thread is also suitable for Lycra and offers similar benefits to polyester. It is durable and has some give, making it less likely to break when the fabric stretches. Nylon threads like Coats & Clark are popular for their strength and flexibility.

Thread Weight and Color:

Choose a thread weight that matches the fabric's weight; a medium-weight thread is usually ideal. For color, match the thread to the fabric or use a contrasting color for decorative stitching. Using a color-matched thread ensures that your stitches blend seamlessly with the fabric, while a contrasting thread can add a decorative element.

How to Sew Lycra by Hand

Hand-sewing Lycra requires patience and precision. Here are step-by-step instructions to achieve the best results:

1. Choose the Right Needle

Use a ballpoint or stretch needle to avoid snagging the fabric. These needles have rounded tips that glide through the fabric without causing damage.

ball point need for sewing lycra leggings

2. Select a Strong Thread

Use polyester or nylon thread for durability and slight elasticity. These threads can withstand the stretching and movement typical of Lycra garments.

3. Use Small Stitches

Small, even stitches will help maintain the fabric's stretch without causing puckering. Larger stitches can lead to gaps and weakened seams.

4. Gentle Tension

Keep the thread tension even but not too tight to prevent the fabric from gathering. Maintaining consistent tension is crucial to avoid puckering.

5. Knotting

Securely knot the thread at the beginning and end of your stitching to prevent unraveling. Double knots or backstitching can provide extra security.

How to Sew Lycra with an Overlocker

An overlocker (serger) is ideal for sewing Lycra, providing strong, stretchy seams. Follow these steps for optimal results:

1. Set Up the Overlocker

Use a ballpoint or stretch needle and polyester or nylon thread. Adjust the machine settings to accommodate Lycra's stretchiness.

2. Adjust Tension

Set the tension according to your fabric’s stretchiness. Test on a scrap piece to ensure the stitches are balanced. Proper tension settings will prevent puckering and thread breakage.

3. Use the Right Stitch

A four-thread overlock stitch is ideal for Lycra, providing a secure and stretchy seam. This stitch type offers both strength and flexibility.

4. Feed the Fabric Evenly

Guide the fabric gently without pulling to avoid stretching it out of shape. Allow the machine to do the work, and use a steady hand to feed the fabric smoothly.

How to Sew Lycra on Sewing Machine:

When using a regular sewing machine, follow these tips to achieve professional results:

1. Needle Choice

Use a ballpoint or stretch needle to prevent skipped stitches and fabric damage. These needles are designed to work with stretchy fabrics without causing snags.

2. Thread Selection

Polyester or nylon thread works best due to its strength and slight elasticity. These threads can handle the stretching and movement of Lycra.

3. Stitch Type

Use a stretch stitch or a narrow zigzag stitch to allow the seam to stretch with the fabric. Stretch stitches, such as the lightning bolt stitch, provide flexibility without compromising seam strength.

4. Adjust Tension

Set the thread tension lower than usual to prevent puckering. Test on a scrap piece before starting. Proper tension ensures smooth and even stitches.

5. Use a Walking Foot

This foot helps feed the fabric evenly, preventing it from stretching or bunching. A walking foot ensures that both the top and bottom layers of fabric move together smoothly.

Troubleshooting Common Issues When Sewing Lycra

Sewing Lycra can come with its challenges. Here are solutions to common problems:

  • Skipped Stitches: Use a stretch needle and adjust the thread tension. Ensure you're using the correct stitch type for stretch fabrics. Skipped stitches often occur due to incorrect needle choice or improper tension settings.
  • Thread Breakage: Check for burrs on the needle, switch to a high-quality thread, and adjust the tension. Thread breakage can be minimized using a strong, compatible thread and proper tension settings.
  • Fabric Bunching: Use a walking foot to feed the fabric evenly and avoid pulling the fabric while sewing. Fabric bunching can be prevented by maintaining a steady hand and allowing the machine to do the work.
  • Uneven Seams: Ensure the fabric is fed even, and consider using a stabilizer for very stretchy Lycra. Adjusting the fabric feed and using a stabilizer to support the fabric can correct uneven seams.

Read More: Is Lycra Breathable? Exploring Lycra Fabric for Summer

Frequently Asked Questions About Sewing Lycra

1. Can I sew Lycra on a sewing machine?

Yes, you can sew Lycra on a sewing machine using a ballpoint or stretch needle, polyester or nylon thread, and appropriate stitch settings. With the right tools and techniques, this technique can produce excellent results.

2. What thread do you use to sew Lycra?

Polyester or nylon thread is recommended for sewing Lycra due to its strength and slight elasticity. These threads can handle the stretching and movement typical of Lycra garments.

3. Is sewing Lycra hard?

Due to its stretchiness, Sewing Lycra can be challenging, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be managed successfully. Proper needle and thread selection, along with appropriate machine settings, make sewing Lycra easier.

4. Why won't my sewing machine sew Lycra?

Common issues include using the wrong needle, incorrect thread tension, or unsuitable stitch settings. Ensure you are using a ballpoint or stretch needle and the right stitch type for stretchy fabrics. Troubleshooting these factors can help resolve sewing problems with Lycra.

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In Conclusion

Sewing Lycra spandex requires specific techniques and tools to achieve the best results. Whether you're hand-sewing, using an overlocker, or working with a regular sewing machine, understanding the fabric's properties and requirements is crucial. Proper thread and needle selection and careful attention to tension and stitch type will help you create durable and stylish garments.

At Rexing Sports, we prioritize quality and performance in our activewear, using high-quality Lycra to ensure our products meet your needs. By following the tips and guidelines in this article, you can successfully sew Lycra spandex and enjoy the benefits of this versatile fabric. Embrace the challenges and rewards of working with Lycra, and explore the range of innovative designs you can create.

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June 02, 2024 — Allen Lynn

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