hemming knits with a sewing machine

How To Hem Polyester Spandex Dress

Polyester spandex is one fabric that’s very challenging to sew and hem as it stretches in two ways; it stretches lengthwise and crosswise on the grain of the fabric. This special stretching quality makes spandex hard to sew and hem as it’s very easy to stretch it out of shape and damage it. However, with the right tools, skills, and techniques, it’s so easy to hem a polyester spandex dress without ruining it. We’ll show you how:

Materials needed

  • A commercial or hand-designed pattern for the dress
  • About 2-3 yards of polyester spandex or just enough fabric for your pattern
  • Sewing machine with zigzag and stretch stitches
  • Matching thread
  • A pair of scissors
  • Pins and/or needles
  • Cutting table or other working surface
  • Tailor’s chalk or disappearing marker
  • Zipper, buttons, or other closures depending on the design
  • Thread snipers and seam reaper
  • Flexible measuring tape

Tips on sewing and hemming spandex

Are you looking for some tips on sewing and hemming spandex on a home machine? If yes, then this instructable is for you.

  1. Prep the fabric for sewing by washing it in advance then cut it using sharp scissors and later pin it with ballpoint pins
  2. If you don’t have a special stretchy thread it’s still okay. Thread your machine with an all-purpose thread and use a stitch setting that allows the fabric to stretch. An all-purpose polyester thread is a great choice for sewing spandex
  • Avoid pulling the fabric as you sew or hem it. This strategy doesn’t work with spandex as well as it works with other fabrics as it leads to puckering. The only time you should stretch the fabric slightly is when you’re sewing around a curve so that it lays flat.
  1. You also shouldn’t let the fabric hang over the edge of the working surface – this pulls the fabric. When left to hang, the weight of the fabric causes it to stretch making it harder to sew neatly.
  2. Check your sewing machine’s manual to see how you can adjust the pressure exerted by the presser foot and then alter its settings so that it’s now set to 1. A lot of pressure on the presser foot pulls the fabric as you sew it which results in puckering.
  3. Set the sewing machine to the “narrow setting” on the zigzag stitch so that you can get the best possible results when sewing and hemming polyester spandex. Alternatively, if you have a serger use it to stitch the raw edge of the spandex instead of sewing a zigzag stitch
  • If your machine doesn’t have a stretch stitch function, you can still hem using a straight stitch either with a twin needle or by gently stretching the fabric.
  • A walking foot is very useful for sewing stretchy fabrics
  1. If you have a blind hem foot for your sewing machine, go ahead and sew a blind hem once you have finished the raw edge of the polyester. The blind hem will not be very noticeable from the right side of the spandex.
  2. When you start sewing your polyester spandex dress with your chosen stitch, let the fabric feed naturally into the machine.

Prepping the polyester spandex for sewing and hemming

Before you start sewing your polyester fabric spandex to make a dress, there are a number of things you can do to make sure that the process goes smoothly all the way to hemming. These will make the whole process easier and save you time and frustration in the end.

First, make sure that you choose the right needle for the job. The needle should be specifically designed for sewing stretchy fabric.

Secondly, pin your pieces together. This ensures that they are held together securely and that they don’t stretch and travel as you sew.

Hemming

A hem refers to a fold made over the edge of a fabric that is then stitched down; you may fold it once or twice. This is done to finish the raw edges of an outfit at the neckline, armhole, cuffs, ankles, etc.

Feel free to use any of the stretch stitch features on the machine. The most ideal stitch is the triple straight one as it doesn’t leave very conspicuous stitch patterns on the fabric.

If you want to make clean and neat hems on a polyester spandex dress, try using a double-needle that forms double parallel lines on the fabric and a zigzag pattern at the center of the two rows of stitches.

How to create elastic hems

When sewing the hem of an elastic dress, sometimes it becomes necessary that you reinforce the hems with elastic in some parts such as the waist. This makes sure that the outfit stays in place and also prevents it from sagging or stretching. When adding the elastic, take care not to make it very tight.

Before adding the elastic, make the panels into which you will add the elastic later on. Stretch the elastic just a little then sew it in place.

If you want you can create a double foldable hem that fully encloses the elastic.

Binding the edges

Binding is another unique edge finishing technique that is used to hem at the curves. This technique is great for creating decorative effects at the hem of a dress.

You add binding to the edges which are then sewn into a seam. How wide you cut the binding depends on the width you want (the range should be between ¾ and 1 inch).

If you like you can do this technique together with elastic to create hems that are bound and elasticized.

Conclusion

One has to be very careful when hemming polyester spandex as it’s very stretchy and can easily get ruined. Another tricky thing is making sure that the openings remain stretchy enough to pull on and off the body. If done wrong, the hem might get wavy or the stitches might pop when you try to stretch it over your head.

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