You might think that stretchy fabric - like Lycra or similar material used in a leotard or costume - would handle the same on any sewing machine, right? Unfortunately, this type of material does some things that make it difficult to work with.
If you’ve ever tried to sew stretchy fabric you probably noticed that the edges bunched up when cut. This makes straight lines hard to sew.
The best sewing machine for stretchy fabric is an overlocker or serger. Because of their unique stitching mechanisms, many of the problems you will encounter on normal machines don’t happen. While more costly, if you are serious about sewing Lycra, swimsuits, or costumes, this class is the best sewing machine for you.
If you cannot use a serger don’t fret. Look at what type of stitches you do have available. For many people, a quality zigzag will be the best. Don’t use the overlock style stitch on a non-overlocker - these stitches aren’t the same, and will not work well.
The best sewing machine needles to use are called stretch needles. They will penetrate the stretch the easiest, and prevent runs because they have a special tip and scarf. Many people prefer these after a general needle messed up too many times.
Some experts say to trace, pin, and cut after you’ve sewn. This is good advice, and allows for the most safety. You could even tape together and wash the fabric tape off later.
This fabric can be unforgiving at first, but after a while I am sure you’ll get the hang of it! And remember, even if you can’t use the best sewing machine for this type of fabric, it IS possible to work these patterns - just be gentle and good luck!