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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: GoGoAndrea
Date: 09-25-2006, 12:31 PM (1 of 13)
Hello All!

I was just wondering if anyone has any tips or tricks for working with 2 or 4 way stretch spandex. I'm looking to expand my "portfolio" of dancewear and could always use some new techniques. I have a coverstitch/serger, as well as a regular 12-stitch machine.

Specifically I was wondering if anyone has any ideas of how to best attach (non-stretch) chainette fringe to spandex so the fabric is still able to stretch.

I'd like to put 2' chainette fringe on a pair of shorts, I think it would be VERY cute :)

Also, since I'd like to put a lighter color on the (black) shorts (like hot pink fringe on black), any gaps would be noticable.

Any ideas or help is greatly appreciated! :)

Thanks! -A
User: GoGoAndrea
Member since: 07-07-2006
Total posts: 43
From: mommydionne
Date: 09-25-2006, 01:53 PM (2 of 13)
That's a tough one, if you just sew straight it will not stretch at all, if you stretch your spandex while stitching the trim on it will ripple when it relaxes, Pam any ideas?? (may stretch just slightly? or search for a trim with a stretchable edge - that is likely the best idea)
User: mommydionne
Member since: 01-08-2004
Total posts: 838
From: GoGoAndrea
Date: 09-25-2006, 04:54 PM (3 of 13)
I've tried stretching the spandex and sewing to the fringe, but what happened is the spandex wouldn't relax - it was sewn "stretched out" (make sense??).

I then tried first sewing the fringe onto elastic (stretching the elastic as i stitched), and then coverstitched the fringe/elastic peice to the spandex. That worked okay, but got jammed up in my machine (PANIC!!). So I thought I'd ask to see if there were better options before I tried that again.

I suppose it doesn't matter if the fringe ripples (since when the shorts are worn, everything will be stretched/smoothed out anyway).
User: GoGoAndrea
Member since: 07-07-2006
Total posts: 43
From: purplelady10200
Date: 09-27-2006, 10:15 PM (4 of 13)

I have worked with spandex before. What I did was load the bobbin with wooly nylon thread and and use twin needles. Works on bathing suits also. To wind the wooly on the bobbin, do not put in through the tension on the top or hand wind do not pull it.
User: purplelady10200
Member since: 09-07-2004
Total posts: 2
From: Skye
Date: 09-28-2006, 03:01 AM (5 of 13)
My first thought would be to use your coverstitch with woolly nylon in the looper. If that doesn't fly try 3 step zig zag - that is the stitch with a couple of stitches in the zig and zags - I am not good at this word description stuff. I have use both these options when stitching elastic on my swimwear
User: Skye
Member since: 09-28-2000
Total posts: 233
From: Sancin
Date: 09-28-2006, 03:03 AM (6 of 13)
I have made a number of spandex bathing suits and imagine that dance fabric is the same, but perhaps without chlorine protection. Have you been using a ball point needle and a fine zigzag stitch? I don't use any special thread, tho probably should. I find the chemicals in hot tubs ruin the fabric faster than any thread would wear out. Perhaps you should experiment with different stitches and the fringe on a length of fabric before completing the garment and having to take stitches out - which in itself will stretch the fabric. It is very hard to pick out threads in spandex and I have several unfinished suits to prove it!
If you use a zigzag stitch you shouldn't stretch the fabric as you sew. I had a surpentine stitch on a old machine I had and loved that stitch but haven't got it on any of my current machines - darn.:bluesad:
*~*~*~* Nancy*~*~*~* " I try to take one day at a time - but sometimes several days attack me at once."
User: Sancin
Member since: 02-13-2005
Total posts: 895
From: GoGoAndrea
Date: 09-28-2006, 12:36 PM (7 of 13)
Thanks for all the responses!

(So far!) I haven't had any problems with stitches or even threads breaking. I looked for the wooly nylon thread at JoAnn's the other day but couldn't find any (I also didn't though regular thread seems to do just fine on the pieces I have made so far.

I haven't tried the fine zig zag stitch since I just use either a coverstitch or a three thread overlock. I have ballpoint needles for my regular machine, but can't find any to use in my coverstitch machine....(Singer 14T967DC)

Maybe I should try the fine zig zag to try and attach the fringe/elastic piece to the spandex. My serger is just so cramped and the foot doesn't lift very high. (So when I have one row of the fringe already on the shorts, it gets VERY busy and VERY confusing trying to get the second row on.)

Right now I have Regular Spandex (Raschel) to play around with. I think I'll order Milliskin Matte from now on though. I don't like the super shiny totally 80s look with the Raschel :)

Since everyone seems to have done swimsuits:

Do you ever do any binding on the edges of your suits? Or do you always just use elastic at the openings? The dancewear that I'm doing doesn't require anything SUPER secure or supportive since 99% of the time undergarments are worn underneath...But folding over and coverstitching doesn't work on super curved edges... I bought a binding foot (for my reg. machine) but am finding it very difficult to work with spandex binding tape...any suggestions?
User: GoGoAndrea
Member since: 07-07-2006
Total posts: 43
From: suemarie
Date: 09-28-2006, 12:51 PM (8 of 13)

I had a figure skating dress business and I remember this one lol I always used a ballpoint needle and a regular zigzag with a rather wide and long stitch. I always had good luck with this way of doing it. I hope you can make it work for you using some of the suggestions you have received. Good luck:smile:

User: suemarie
Member since: 08-25-2006
Total posts: 14
From: Skye
Date: 09-28-2006, 08:29 PM (9 of 13)
You can buy binders for your coverstitch machine.
Good discussion on patternreview and here is a link to Debbie Cooks tutorial on c/s and all about binders.
I forgot to say sometimes you need to reduce the presor foot pressure when sewing spandex fabrics on both sewing machines and c/s machines
love to see photos of you finished outfits
User: Skye
Member since: 09-28-2000
Total posts: 233
From: AndreaSews
Date: 09-29-2006, 09:07 PM (10 of 13)
Andrea, I'm Andrea too, and it happens I grew up on LI!

I'm winging it here--I haven't played too much with stretchy stuff. What happens if you try stretching some 1/4 inch black elastic while you sew the non-stretch trim onto _that_? Does it snap back to shape alright? I imagine there would be buckling of the trim, but then could you straighten that out and stitch the elastic onto the spandex in the usual fashion? Let us know what works--its an interesting question.
User: AndreaSews
Member since: 02-18-2005
Total posts: 1007
From: sewingcybermom
Date: 10-01-2006, 11:07 PM (11 of 13)
Hello Andrea! I design and make skating, dance and performancewear. I only work with lycras...every day. for the past 15 years!
My rule of thumb is to never try and use non stretch trims on stretch performancewear. It doesn't lay flat, it is sometimes binding, and it is just a big pain to do. IF you insist on using this trim, you must attach while the garment is on, using safety pins, remove the garment, and then stretch the lycra while sewing to the trim, while removing the pins. I did a "roaring 20's" flapper costume for a skater once, and I swear, I will never do it again!

As for the question regarding edge treatments, on my leg openings I use an elasticator on my serger to apply 3/8" elastic. No stretching, just apply it flat. Then I take it to my coverstitch, fold it over and coverstitch. It really looks professional.

To apply contrast trim instead of elastic, I cut a strip of 1" contrasting lycra, stretch it a bit while serging it to the main piece using a 4 thread flatlock stitch. I then fold this over the seam to the back, and coverstitch with a double row stitch. I then trim close to that coverstitch to remove excess. This works lika a charm every time!

The easiest way is to use foldover elastics. They can be bought almost everywhere now in tons of colors. They are beautiful, soft and are perfect for contrast trims on lycra. You just fold it on the center line over your fabric and use a zig zag, coverstitch or 3 step zig zag to finish. Easy!

I use moleskin a lot, but I use quite a bit of 4 way stretch lycras. They have a better stretch to them. I never use the shiny side, I always flip them to the matte side. I agree with the 80's look.

You can see some of these treatments on my photopage of some of my costumes. All except the fringe, that is.....I simply refuse to do non-stretch stuff.

I hope this helps, If there is anything else, just drop me a line!
See some of my work here:
User: sewingcybermom
Member since: 01-18-2006
Total posts: 58
From: GoGoAndrea
Date: 10-02-2006, 12:13 PM (12 of 13)
Andrea - Thanks for the suggestion, I'll try sewing all three together rather than the fringe/elastic first and then onto the garment. I'll let you know how it goes.

Unfortunately I went crazy and found a good deal on ebay (25 yards of white fringe for who knows how much...) So I got it....and now have TWENTY FIVE YARDS OF FRINGE!! Sometimes I don't know what I'm thinking :dave: LOL It's an addiction...along with my addiction to fake hairpieces :up:


sewingcybermom - You just became my new best friend :) hahah! Really though, that was VERY VERY helpful and your outfits are amazing. I just put an order in for some FOE and am excited to try it out!

User: GoGoAndrea
Member since: 07-07-2006
Total posts: 43
From: GoGoAndrea
Date: 10-24-2006, 09:52 AM (13 of 13)
Seven broken needles shorts are match them (I do everything in doubles - two dancers, two matching outfits)--- I'll make a skirt...I can't deal with trying to sew with the spandex and elastic and stretching to match the non-stretch and yadda yadda yadda...too frustrating!!! :whacky:

I'll post pictures as soon as I finish the skirt and we wear them...

Thanks for everyone's help!
User: GoGoAndrea
Member since: 07-07-2006
Total posts: 43
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