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The Fabric Exchange




How to Sew with Stretch Fabrics

Posted by Genesis Davies on

Certain fabrics make beginner sewers a little nervous and stretch fabrics are definitely a bit nerve-wracking when you are just starting out. These fun materials are tricky to work with, but they don't have to scare you off completely. It's just a matter of learning to handle them. Sewing stretch fabrics can be easier than you might think. 

Get Yourself a Cutting Mat

A good quality cutting mat can make a big difference in how you work with knit or stretch fabric. It's almost impossible to get a straight cut with a pair of scissors and some stretch rayon. You will definitely want to use a cutting mat and a rotary cutter for the best effect. This makes it simple to ensure your pattern is properly cut out.

Check the Stretch

Stretchy fabric may be stretchy only in two directions, or it could be very stretchy in all directions. This will determine how you sew it. Test your fabric by gently stretching it between your fingers. If it is very obviously stretchier in a specific direction, you know that it is two way stretch.

Once you know how stretchy your fabric is, you can make sure the the stretchiest part goes across your garment, rather than running up and down.

Sew with a Ballpoint Needle

When it comes to actually sewing the stretch fabric, a ballpoint needle will save a lot of woe. The rounded tip of the needle passes between fibers, rather than catching on them. This means the thread will pass through the fabric, without catching on anything. The end result is much smoother seams. 

Whether it's using the right needle or simply positioning the fabric correctly for maximum effect, garment construction is much simpler when you know how to handle the fabric. Don't forget to make it easy on yourself by using a stretch stitch or zigzag and finishing your seams with binding.

The Fabric Exchange Author

About the author: Genesis Davies is a freelance writer and avid seamstress. She enjoys sewing for fun and charity. You can find more of her work at

  • stretch fabric
  • spandex
  • rayon
  • 2 way stretch
  • 4 way stretch
  • how to sew stretch fabric
  • sewing with spandex

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