What Needle to Use for Stretch Fabric: A Guide
By Funki Fabrics, 24 June 2022
Posted in Sewing
If you're planning on getting your sewing machine out and getting started with Lycra, you might be wondering which needle to use for stretch fabric. After all, not all needles and fabrics are created equal! In this blog post, we'll tell you everything you need to know about sewing with stretchy fabrics, including what needle to use and other types for sewing Lycra fabric.
Understanding Stretch / Lycra Fabric
Any experienced sewer knows that not all fabrics are created equal. Some, like silk and linen, are delicate and require special care. Others, like denim and canvas, are more rugged and can stand up to a lot of wear and tear. Then there's Lycra, which falls somewhere in between. Lycra is a synthetic fabric that's often used in sportswear because it is one of the few stretchy fabrics that is super durable and quick wicking. However, it can also be tricky to sew with and difficult to control because it tends to slip and slide.
What needle to use for stretch fabric
For delicate and tricky fabrics like Lycra, the type of sewing machine needles you use in your sewing machine is very important. Standard sewing machine needles will make visible holes in stretchy fabric, which will cause it to tear easily. Instead, you should use a stretch needle, which has a specifically designed point that helps prevent the fabric from snagging and tearing while using your sewing machine. This will also help to prevent skipped stitches. Some stretch needle options will also come with a coating to help it cut/glide through stretch fabric more easily - this can be critical when working with slippery fabrics like Lycra. You should easily be able to find stretch needles online or in local craft stores.
While a stretch needle is preferred with Lycra fabric, you can also use other types such as a ballpoint needle. A ballpoint needle is designed with a bulbous tip so that it slides between the fabric fibres rather than tearing them. As the fabric and materials used in Lycra will provide stretch and give, ballpoint needles should be able to easily glide through the fabric.
Additional tips when working with stretch fabric
In addition to working with a stretch needle, be sure to use a stretch stitch or zigzag stitch when sewing with stretchy fabrics, as this will help the fabric move at a good pace on your sewing machine without breaking the thread.
If you are using a serger, be sure to use needles that are designed for use with that machine.
Note: A serger is a type of sewing machine that's specifically designed to finish the edges of the fabric. Unlike a regular sewing machine, which relies on a single thread, a serger uses multiple threads to create a strong, finished edge that won't unravel. Sergers are often used for sewing things like hems, seams, and narrow tubular fabrics like sleeves. While they're not essential for every project, sergers can save you a lot of time and frustration when it comes to finishing the edges of your fabric.
You should also use a smaller needle in your sewing machine than you would for other fabrics. This will help to prevent the fabric from stretching out of shape
Use a walking foot if you have one. A walking foot will help to keep the fabric from bunching up as you sew, making it far easier to handle and avoid mistakes.
When using your sewing machine and handling the fabric, be sure to sew slowly and carefully. As a somewhat challenging fabric to sew, Lycra can be unforgiving of mistakes, so it's important to take your time and double-check your work as you go
With a little patience and practice, you'll be sewing with lycra like a pro in no time!
Time to get sewing!
Lycra is a great fabric to sew with because it is so versatile. It can be used for sportswear, activewear, swimwear, and even some dressy garments. When you know how to sew with lycra, the possibilities are endless! We hope you found these tips helpful and that you'll put them to good use. Remember, if you need any help finding the perfect stretch fabric for your next project, we've got you covered at FunkiFabrics.com! Happy sewing!