How To Sew Stretchy Material: Tips And Tricks

If you have ever wondered how particular clothing fits even after a gap of few years. Sometimes, some materials look smaller than the body size, but when you put on, it fits perfectly. The swimming suits tend to look so little, but when worn, it takes the body’s shape. Similar to gym wear too.

The trick lies in the fabric of the garment. These are stretchable materials that are mostly body hugging. Once pulled apart, they can return to their original shape and size when released.

Types of Stretchy Material

how to sew stretchy materialAccording to the process of stretching, two different varieties of stretchable materials are available in the market.

Dual Way Stretchable

They can be pulled only in one particular direction. That can be either longitudinally or horizontally. They are usually self-finished by the edges.

Quadruple Way Stretchable

They have the pulling capacity both ways. Also known as four-way stretch fabrics. They can be stretched both crosswise as well as longitudinally.

Stretchy materials emerged while experimenting with fibers. In the mid of the 20th century, commercialization initiated for its wide range of usage. The fabric can lengthen and widen. However, they are not elastic exactly.

Usage of Stretchy Fabrics

sportswearStretchable fabrics have applications in different sectors of the fashion and garment industry. They are easier while preparing an outfit. Woven fabrics are also kind of stretchy because of the wool used. The fiber of the yarn has excellent elasticity and is usable for a long time. Some are worn year after year. Stretchable fabrics have requirements in:

  • Swimming costumes
  • Women lingerie
  • Sportswear
  • Gym wear
  • Decorative purposes
  • Theatre requirements
  • Event management

Materials Required for Sewing a Stretchy Material

Before discussing the procedure of how to sew stretchy material, it is an intelligent move first to get yourself ready with the supplies.

  • Sewing machine
  • Needle for stretchy fabric
  • The stretchable material
  • A smaller piece of cloth for trial
  • Thread
  • Pins

How to Sew Stretchy Material

singer futura xl400 sewing machineStep 1: Adjust the settings of the machine. If you prefer the zigzag process, adjust the length and breadth as per your requirement.

Step 2: Before sewing on the main fabric, try stitching on a trial fabric. You will be able to rectify any mistakes or if alterations needed.

Step 3: Secure the seams with a pin so that they do not change their position.

Step 4: Baste the edges with temporary stitches, to secure their place.

Step 5: Sew the short sides of the fabric initially, keeping the ones at the right-hand side joined.

Step 6: Sew up all the sides of the fabric in the same way.

Step 7: Remember not to pull the fabric too much; the fitting will get distorted.

Step 8: After sewing, all the edges trim the extra fabric.

Step 9: Cut out the extra threads, if any.

Step 10: After completion of stitching, the body of the outfit move towards the sleeves. As stretchable materials may feel droopy at the sleeves due to their weight, keep an eye on it while sewing.

Tips for Sewing Stretchy Fabrics

For stitching stretchy fabrics, consider the below-mentioned points before you prepare on how to sew stretchy material:

The Needle of the Sewing Machine

The needle whose tip is ballpoint will go between the fibers of the fabric. They do not pierce through it. Using a ballpoint needle is best as it prevents any damages to the material.

For fitted knits, apply a thin needle, and for light knits, choose a thick one. To be o a safe position, you may also select a universal needle, as they are available in a variety of sizes.

The Setting of the Stitches

Remember to baste first. To avoid any mistake, stitch an interim first. Set up the parameters of the machine to the most extended length possible. If the stitches are not adequately visible, pull out the baste, and attempt again.

Although not all devices have a pre-installed setting for stretchy fabrics, few machines have them. Examine if the sewing machine has one, then read the manual instructions and set them accordingly. If not, try the other option, i.e., the zigzag stitch. It keeps the seams and edges securely.

Read More: How to finish terry towel edges

Specialized Techniques

To ensure minimum damage, secure the edges with pins. Insert them at an angle of 90 degrees as they are easier to remove. As stretchy fabrics are a bit heavy, use a non-stretching cloth in the seams for dresses. For the areas of the shoulder, you may opt for stabilizing material.

Always stitch in the less stretchable direction. Do not pull the fabric while sewing. Hold it with gentle pressure, or else the garment’s size may change as you will keep stretching. Sometimes, the material does not move smoothly while sewing; in such instances, you may place a tissue paper beneath the fabric. Once stitching is complete, it is easy to tear off the tissue.


Do not forget to iron the finished product. Steam allows the fabric to return to its first stretch, which may have elongated while stitching. Use an iron machine or steamer, which permits stretchable material as well.


If you are confident that the material will not increase or decrease its size and will not release color, you may wash it. One may also opt for dry cleaning.

Curved Edges

While sewing, if the sides get curled, use a starch spray. It will keep the seams flattened as you sew. The starch is washable as well.

How to Sew Stretchy Material: Final Thoughts

Handling a stretchable material might seem a bit touch while sewing. However, with regular stitching, you will understand the tips in a better way. Apply the type of stitches according to the knit and material of the fabric. Always try on an extra cut out portion of the original piece.

It will help in broadening your knowledge and idea of the stitches needed. Next time, think twice before investing for a stretchable outfit. Try your hand at stitching it on your own and enjoy the customization as per your requirements.

nancy jenkins from get sew

Nancy Jenkins

Nancy is a retired seamstress who loves everything about crafting and sewing. When she is not at her sewing machine, you'll find her coming up with new patterns and designs for her sewing projects. Nancy likes the outdoors, meeting with friends, and cooking.