Spandex can be a pretty tricky material to sew and not everyone gets along with it. Fortunately I’ve had many years of experience working with spandex and paneling it. I’ve made everything from plain old bodysuits to complex paneled costumes and I’ve picked up a few tips along the way.
Instead of telling you how to sew spandex I’ve decided to make a little list of things that will make it easier to sew. So without further ado, here is my tips to make spandex easier to work with.
Pin the crap out of it.
Spandex likes to travel. By this I don’t mean it likes to go abroad, more along the lines of if you don’t pin it at every opportunity then the seams will change and you will end up with wonky seams and they won’t match. You might even miss a part of the hem and then you’ll end up with a hole in your suit. So yeah, pin it everywhere!
Use safety pins
Safety pins are awesome for spandex, especially if you’re fitting it on someone. Lycra and spandex like to stretch, which means there’s a huge chance of the fabric slipping off the end of your pin. It will be annoying to get the safety pin out before you sew it up but the safety pin won’t budge, you won’t lose it and it wont fall out. So generally win win.
Pin perpendicular to the seam
I only really use this method when I’m sewing in curved panels. If you pin everything (especially curves) at right angles to the seam you will find that it’s easier to get the fabric through the sewing machine, the fabric is less likely to travel and you will get nice neat seams if you are sewing curved panels. The only problem with this method is that if you need something to match up along the seam and it runs parallel to the seam you’ll find that it might travel and won’t match up.
When drawing out patterns, make take 1.5-2 inches off your measurements
That’s right, make the pattern smaller. I’ve found that every time I’ve tried to make a spandex suit to the exact measurements I’ve been given the suit gets too baggy. There is nothing more annoying than a baggy suit. The easiest way to stop this is to make your pattern smaller, especially if you have designs on the pattern.
Make a curve at the crotch
I cheated a little when I discovered this by accident because I was avoiding having to sew in a gusset. A gusset is a little piece of diamond or triangular fabric you use to make curved bits fit. Instead, I put a curve at the crotch instead of a diamond or a V shape and it actually worked really well! The fabric didn’t pucker, it fit nice and snug with my legs and no camel toe!
Applique detail when possible
When sewing details onto spandex or any kind of stretch material I tend to find it easier to either applique the patterns on or to pin it down then fold over the edges. This stops the designs from stretching too much when you wear it and they won’t get warped. I generally only suggest sewing in panels if you are adding blocks of colour, like in a Spider-man suit. Otherwise it’s much easier to just put the pattern on the suit, pin it down, sew it on with a triple straight stitch, then sew up the suit. Otherwise you’ll be struggling getting the designs to stay neat.
So that’s it with my tips, I don’t want to bore you. Hopefully for anyone who is worried about working with spandex, this will help to alleviate some stress or help those who are struggling. If you have any other questions just leave a comment below or send us an email and we’ll try and help the best we can.