This is the second installation in our two-part series on all things spandex.
Previously, we talked about the nitty-gritty of spandex, including what it is, some of the common types of spandex fabric, its interesting history, and stretch types. By now, you should be able to choose and buy the right spandex fabric by the yard for your next project.
Today, we are going to turn our attention to what spandex is typically used for, and technical advice for sewing with the fabric. We will also cover several sample sewing ideas and projects using spandex for your inspiration.
Common Uses of Spandex Fabric
Owing to its elastic nature, spandex is the perfect fabric any project that requires some stretch. The good thing is that spandex can be blended with other fabrics to add this quality to them. For instance, cotton Lycra (a blend of cotton and spandex) is flattering and stretchy, while it is also pleasantly comfortable, versatile and relatively soft to touch.
In other words, the ultimate use of spandex fabric depends on the type. Nonetheless, this fabulous fabric is typically used to sew dancewear like leotards, yoga pants, swimwear, bodysuits, head bows, leggings, skating gear, wrestling wear, costumes, and much more.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the common application of various types of spandex fabric. Lucky for you, you can buy these types of spandex online.
Rayon Spandex: This blend of spandex and rayon produces a high-performance fabric which is wrinkle-resistant, lightweight, and doesn't crease too easily. It is also breathable, drapes well and feels soft. Because it comes in several beautiful prints, you have to do a little homework before buying rayon spandex by the yard. It is an ideal fabric for sports jerseys, athletic wear, dancewear, biking pants, activewear, and skirts.
Nylon Spandex: There are several types of nylon spandex, including moleskin (rough, shiny or matte). Because they tend to be heavyweight, they are often used for skating wear, sportswear, circus costumes, wrestling kits, and other applications that need both stretch and strength.
Cotton Lycra: The most common uses of this super soft and breathable fabric include sportswear, dancewear, activewear, yoga wear, tank tops, t-shirts, leggings, and much more.
Hologram Spandex: This unique type of spandex fabric can come with animal prints, patterns, holographic images, and other colorful decorations. It is an ideal fabric for special occasions, dresses, costumes, club wear, etc.
Spandex Print Fabric: This type of spandex has become a costume staple. You can get it in any print or pattern.
Tips for Sewing with Spandex
The stretchy nature of spandex can be a blessing or a curse when it comes to sewing. Here are some tips that will help take your spandex sewing project to the next level.
Pick the Right Spandex Fabric
There are many types of spandex out there, which can make it difficult to choose and purchase the right fabric by the yard. The most important thing to keep in mind when purchasing spandex online is the specific needs of your project.
A dancing skirt for your little girl will require something soft, comfortable and lightweight. Perhaps silk spandex or cotton Lycra. On the other hand, if you want to put together a Halloween costume that will bear the brunt of heavy partying, you might want to go with a strong yet stretchy fabric like nylon spandex.
Let’s Talk Proper Needles
Given that spandex is a pretty stretchy, it is a no-brainer that you need to use the right need to work with. If you go with a standard sewing needle, stick with size 14, 12 or 11 - the latter is for lightweight spandex fabrics. This will also depend on the kind of needles that your machine accepts.
More often than not, you will need stretch needles. This type of needle will make sure that no stitch is skipped - after all, any finished product made with spandex will have to stretch at every point, including at the seams.
You can also use ballpoint-style needles, quilting pins (if you’re quilting, of course), wonder clips, seam rippers (for when stitches go south), and loop turner.
Start with Test Stitches
Stitching spandex can be tricky. If your machine allows it, you can use scrap spandex to test your stitching. Good thing, closeout spandex can work out well for this. Use test stitches to tune the tension and length of the stitch, and make sure there’s no puckering of the material.
Choosing the Right Thread
A polyester thread will do well for spandex fabric, but woolly nylon threats can do the trick too. Remember, there’s no harm in testing as many thread types as you can.
Buy More Fabric than You Need
Spandex fabric is fairly inexpensive. When buying fabric by the yard, make sure to add a few inches or even yards. You can never run out of sewing projects that use spandex, so don’t be too concerned with having leftovers!
Sample Sewing Projects with Spandex
Sewing leotard for yourself or your kids can be quite rewarding and cost-effective. While it might sound a little daunting at first, with a bit of creativity and the right tools, your product will come out perfect. Here is a tutorial that’s poised to walk you through the whole process.
The beauty of sewing swimsuit or bathing wear using spandex is that you can tailor them to your measurement, style and personality. There are always several solid, decorated or spandex print fabrics that fit the bill. You will need a serger and about 2 yards of spandex fabric for this project. Here's the complete tutorial.
You can also use quality spandex fabric to make your own DIY bikini. You might want to try this when you are comfortable making leotards and swimwear. Here's a tutorial that will help you create a stylish bikini bottom for your young girl.
Want to sew extra soft leggings? Naturally, polyester spandex is the perfect material for leggings. You will require about 1.5 yards for your project (it can be more or less depending on your preference). There are several patterns you can go with. Here is a good walk-through of how to sew leggings using spandex.
These are just but four sample projects. You can always extend your horizons with other exciting projects like costumes, dancewear, etc. Remember, your options with spandex are virtually limitless - with so many different types and patterns, and so many different ways to use it: what are you waiting for?