How to Sew Spandex with a Serger for Optimal Results?

Unlock the secret to creating sleek and stretchy garments that fit like a dream with our guide on How to Sew Spandex With a Serger. Whether you’re a seasoned seamstress or a sewing novice, working with spandex can be intimidating. But fear not! In this comprehensive tutorial, we’ll demystify the art of sewing spandex using a serger, ensuring your projects turn out flawless and comfortable.

From choosing the right needle to mastering the perfect stitch, we’ve got you covered. Join us as we delve into the world of spandex sewing and discover the joy of crafting garments that move with you, effortlessly.

Salient Points

  • Opt for a ballpoint needle and stretch thread to prevent fabric damage and ensure elasticity.
  • Proper tension settings are crucial for balanced stitches and avoiding fabric distortion.
  • Avoid excessive pinning and stretch the fabric slightly while sewing to maintain its stretchiness.
  • Start with scrap fabric to master the technique before tackling your main project, and remember to be patient for professional results.

What is Spandex?

Spandex, also known as elastane or Lycra, is a synthetic fiber renowned for its exceptional elasticity. It’s commonly used in clothing due to its ability to stretch significantly and then return to its original shape. Spandex is made from a long-chain polymer called polyurethane, which is known for its elasticity and strength.

The polyurethane is processed into fiber form through a spinning process, resulting in thin, stretchable strands. The remarkable stretch properties of spandex make it a popular choice for sportswear, swimwear, and garments that require flexibility and comfort.

Unlike natural fibers like cotton or wool, spandex doesn’t lose its shape easily and provides a snug fit, enhancing freedom of movement and support. Its ability to stretch up to five to eight times its original length and then snap back to its original size makes it an invaluable material in various clothing applications.

For instance, athletes benefit from spandex in their activewear as it allows them to move freely without feeling restricted. Additionally, swimmers appreciate spandex in swimwear for its ability to hug the body without sagging or losing shape, providing optimal performance and comfort.

Can You Sew Spandex with a Serger?

When it comes to sewing spandex with a serger, it’s important to consider the capabilities of both the fabric and the machine. Spandex, known for its stretchiness, requires specialized handling to prevent issues like skipped stitches or fabric damage. A serger, also called an overlocker, is a sewing machine designed for finishing edges and creating seams simultaneously. While it’s possible to sew spandex with a serger, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.

Firstly, spandex is a delicate fabric that can easily be stretched out of shape if not handled properly. When using a serger on spandex, it’s crucial to adjust the machine’s settings appropriately. This includes using a stretch needle designed specifically for knit fabrics to prevent snagging or tearing. Additionally, adjusting the tension settings on the serger is essential to ensure that the stitches are secure without causing the spandex to pucker or gather.

Furthermore, using a serger with differential feed capabilities can be highly beneficial when sewing spandex. Differential feed allows the front and back feed dogs of the serger to move at different rates, accommodating the stretch of the spandex fabric and preventing it from becoming distorted or stretched out of shape during stitching.

While sergers are excellent for creating strong, stretchy seams on spandex, it’s essential to practice on scrap fabric first to fine-tune the machine settings and become familiar with handling spandex on a serger. With proper adjustments and technique, sewing spandex with a serger can produce professional-quality results, perfect for activewear, dance costumes, or other stretchy garments.

Mastering Spandex: How to Sew Spandex With a Serger

How to Sew Spandex with a Serger?

Serging spandex can be a bit tricky due to its stretchy nature. However, with the right technique and equipment, you can achieve professional-looking results. Below are step-by-step instructions on how to sew spandex using a serger.

  1. Selecting the Right Needle and Thread:
    • Use a ballpoint needle to prevent snags and runs in the fabric.
    • Choose stretch thread or polyester thread for elasticity and durability.
  2. Adjusting Serger Tension:
    • Set the tension dials on your serger according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
    • Test on a scrap fabric to ensure the stitches are balanced and not too tight or loose.
  3. Preparing the Fabric:
    • Lay the spandex fabric flat on a clean, flat surface.
    • Pin the fabric together if necessary, but avoid excessive pinning to prevent distortion.
  4. Cutting the Fabric:
    • Use sharp fabric scissors to cut the spandex, ensuring clean edges.
    • Cut with the stretch of the fabric to maintain its elasticity.
  5. Setting Up the Serger:
    • Thread the serger with the chosen thread, following the machine’s threading guide.
    • Ensure the differential feed is adjusted properly to prevent stretching or puckering of the fabric.
  6. Starting the Stitching:
    • Begin sewing at a seam allowance suitable for your project, typically 1/4 inch.
    • Align the fabric edge with the edge of the presser foot as you feed it into the serger.
  7. Stitching Technique:
    • Maintain a steady pace as you guide the fabric through the serger.
    • Stretch the fabric slightly in front of and behind the presser foot to prevent waves or ripples in the seam.
  8. Finishing the Seam:
    • Overlap the starting and ending stitches slightly to secure the seam.
    • Trim any excess threads and inspect the seam for consistency and elasticity.
  9. Pressing and Finishing:
    • Press the seam lightly with a cool iron to flatten it without damaging the fabric.
    • Finish the raw edges if desired, using a serger, zigzag stitch, or overlock stitch.
  10. Practice and Patience:
    • Practice on scrap fabric before working on your project to familiarize yourself with the serging technique.
    • Be patient and take your time to ensure accurate stitching and professional results.
Mastering Spandex: How to Sew Spandex With a Serger for Optimal Results

Let’s discuss these steps in detail now.

Select the Right Needle and Thread:

When sewing spandex with a serger, it’s crucial to use the appropriate needle and thread to prevent damage to the fabric and ensure strong, stretchy seams.

  1. Needle Selection:
    • Choose a ballpoint needle specifically designed for knit fabrics like spandex.
    • The rounded tip of a ballpoint needle slides between the fibers of the fabric instead of piercing them, reducing the risk of snags or runs.
  2. Thread Choice:
    • Opt for stretch thread or polyester thread known for their elasticity and durability.
    • These threads can withstand the stretch of spandex fabric without breaking or snapping, ensuring long-lasting seams.

Adjust Serger Tension:

Proper tension settings on your serger are essential for achieving balanced and secure stitches when sewing spandex.

  1. Tension Dial Adjustment:
    • Refer to your serger’s manual for specific instructions on adjusting tension dials.
    • Typically, for sewing spandex, you’ll want to set the tension dials to a medium or slightly lower setting to accommodate the stretchiness of the fabric.
  2. Test Stitching:
    • Before sewing on your actual project, perform a test stitch on a scrap piece of spandex.
    • Check the resulting stitches for balance—they should appear even and flat without any puckering or stretching of the fabric.
    • Make minor adjustments to the tension dials as needed until you achieve the desired stitch quality.

Prepare the Fabric:

Proper preparation of the spandex fabric ensures smooth sewing and professional-looking results.

  1. Flat Layout:
    • Lay the spandex fabric flat on a clean, smooth surface, such as a cutting mat or table.
    • Smooth out any wrinkles or creases to ensure accurate cutting and stitching.
  2. Pinning:
    • While spandex is often less prone to shifting than other fabrics, you may choose to pin the fabric together at key points, such as seam intersections or corners.
    • Use pins sparingly to avoid leaving visible holes or causing distortion in the fabric.

Cut the Fabric:

Proper cutting techniques are essential to maintain the stretch and shape of spandex fabric.

  1. Sharp Scissors:
    • Use sharp fabric scissors to cut the spandex, as dull scissors can result in jagged edges and uneven cuts.
    • Ensure the blades are clean and free from any residue to prevent snagging or tearing of the fabric.
  2. Cutting with the Stretch:
    • Identify the direction of stretch in the spandex fabric. This is usually along the selvage (edge) of the fabric.
    • Position the fabric so that the stretch runs perpendicular to the seam line or garment edge you’re cutting. This allows the fabric to stretch comfortably around the body without distorting the finished garment.

Set Up the Serger:

Proper setup of your serger ensures smooth operation and professional-looking seams.

  1. Threading the Serger:
    • Refer to your serger’s manual for detailed threading instructions specific to your machine model.
    • Use a different color thread for the upper looper, lower looper, and needle, if available, to easily identify any tension or threading issues.
  2. Differential Feed Adjustment:
    • Locate the differential feed dial on your serger, typically located near the stitch length and width controls.
    • Adjust the differential feed to match the stretchiness of the spandex fabric. For most spandex projects, setting the differential feed to a lower number (e.g., 0.7) helps prevent stretching or puckering of the fabric while serging.

Start the Stitching:

Proper technique when starting the stitching ensures secure and professional seams.

  1. Seam Allowance:
    • Begin sewing with a seam allowance appropriate for your project. For most spandex projects, a 1/4 inch seam allowance works well.
    • Position the edge of the fabric against the edge of the presser foot to maintain a consistent seam allowance throughout the stitching process.
  2. Guiding the Fabric:
    • Hold the fabric gently but securely as you guide it into the serger.
    • Maintain a steady pace and avoid pulling or stretching the fabric excessively, as this can result in distorted seams or uneven stitching.

Stitching Technique:

Proper technique while stitching with a serger ensures smooth and secure seams on spandex fabric.

  1. Steady Pace:
    • Maintain a steady pace as you guide the fabric through the serger. Avoid sewing too quickly, which can lead to uneven stitches, or too slowly, which may cause fabric bunching.
  2. Guiding the Fabric:
    • Gently guide the fabric with both hands, keeping it aligned with the edge of the presser foot.
    • Be mindful of the fabric’s stretchiness and adjust your tension on the fabric accordingly to prevent it from stretching out of shape.

Finish the Seam:

Properly finishing the seam ensures durability and a neat appearance.

  1. Overlap Stitches:
    • Overlap the starting and ending stitches by approximately half an inch to secure the seam.
    • Backstitching is not typically necessary with a serger, as the overlapped stitches provide sufficient reinforcement.
  2. Trimming Excess Threads:
    • Trim any excess threads close to the seam using sharp scissors.
    • Be careful not to cut into the seam itself, as this can weaken the stitch and cause unraveling.

Press and Finish:

Finishing touches help give your project a polished look.

  1. Light Pressing:
    • Use a cool iron to lightly press the seam, being careful not to apply too much heat, which can damage the spandex fabric.
    • Press the seam from the wrong side of the fabric to avoid leaving shiny marks on the surface.
  2. Edge Finishing (Optional):
    • If desired, finish the raw edges of the fabric using a serger, zigzag stitch, or overlock stitch to prevent fraying.
    • This step is particularly useful for spandex garments that may undergo frequent stretching and washing.

Practice and Patience:

Practice and patience are key to mastering the art of serging spandex.

  1. Practice on Scrap Fabric:
    • Before working on your actual project, practice serging on scrap pieces of spandex fabric.
    • This allows you to familiarize yourself with the serger settings and stitching technique before tackling your main project.
  2. Take Your Time:
    • Sewing spandex requires attention to detail and a steady hand.
    • Take your time and focus on maintaining consistent stitching and tension throughout the sewing process.

Different Stitches for Sewing Spandex

To achieve optimal results in sewing spandex, it is important to understand and utilize the essential stitches available on your serger. These stitches not only provide structural integrity to your spandex garments but also help in preventing puckering and maintaining the fabric’s stretch. Let’s take a look at some of the essential stitches for sewing spandex:

Stitch NameDescriptionUse
4-Thread OverlockProvides a strong and stretchy seam.Ideal for constructing spandex garments.
Flatlock StitchCreates a flat seam with minimal bulk.Perfect for decorative seams and joining seams in swimwear.
Narrow HemFinishes raw edges with a narrow folded hem.Suitable for hemming lightweight spandex fabrics.
Rolled HemProduces a rolled edge finish.Great for decorative edges on spandex garments.
CoverstitchCreates a professional-looking, stretchy hem.Perfect for hemming and topstitching spandex.

Understanding the fabric stretch is crucial when selecting the appropriate stitch. Stretchy stitches like the 4-Thread Overlock and the Coverstitch allow the fabric to maintain its stretchiness without breaking the seams. Additionally, using the correct tension settings on your serger can help prevent puckering in spandex stitches.

How to Handle Seam Allowances in Spandex?

Ensure precise and secure seam allowances when working with spandex by carefully trimming excess fabric and finishing raw edges. Handling seam allowances correctly is essential in preventing puckering and achieving professional-looking results.

Here are some tips to help you handle seam allowances effectively when sewing with spandex:

  • Use the appropriate seam allowance measurements: When working with spandex, it is recommended to use a narrower seam allowance, such as 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch. This narrower allowance helps to reduce bulk and prevents the fabric from stretching or distorting during sewing.
  • Trim excess fabric: After stitching the seam, trim the excess fabric close to the stitching line. Be careful not to cut into the seam itself. Trimming the excess fabric helps to reduce bulk and allows the seam to lie flat.
  • Finish raw edges: Spandex fabric can fray easily, so it is important to finish the raw edges to prevent unraveling. You can use a serger to overlock the edges or use a zigzag stitch on a regular sewing machine. Alternatively, you can also use a narrow and stretchy binding to encase the raw edges.

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Sewing Spandex

Spandex, known for its stretchiness and resilience, can present unique challenges when sewing. Here are some common issues you may encounter and solutions to tackle them:

IssuePossible CauseSolution
Fabric puckering or skipping stitchesIncorrect needle choice or tension settingsEnsure you’re using a stretch needle appropriate for spandex and adjust tension settings accordingly.
Fabric stretching out of shapeInsufficient support or handling during sewingUse pins or basting stitches to secure seams before sewing, and handle fabric gently to prevent stretching.
Uneven seams or edgesUneven feeding or stretching while sewingUtilize a walking foot or even feed foot to ensure consistent fabric feeding, reducing the risk of uneven seams.
Thread breakage or snappingInadequate tension or incorrect thread choiceCheck tension settings to ensure they’re appropriate for spandex, and use a quality polyester thread designed for stretch fabrics.
Skipped stitches or loopsDull or wrong type of needleReplace with a new stretch needle and ensure it’s appropriate for the weight of the spandex fabric being sewn.
Fabric slipping or slidingLack of grip on sewing machine or workspaceUse a sewing machine mat or non-slip fabric under the spandex to prevent slipping during sewing.
Seam puckering or ripplingIncorrect stitch type or lengthUse a stretch stitch like a narrow zigzag or lightning bolt stitch, and adjust stitch length to accommodate the stretch of the fabric.

Remember, practicing on scrap fabric before tackling your project can help you familiarize yourself with sewing spandex and troubleshoot any issues that arise.

Tips to Sew Spandex with a Serger

Sewing spandex can be challenging due to its stretchiness, but using a serger can make the process easier and more professional-looking. Here are some tips to help you successfully sew spandex with a serger:

  • Use the Right Needles: Use ballpoint needles specifically designed for stretch fabrics. These needles have rounded tips that slide between the fibers of the fabric without damaging them, reducing the risk of runs or snags.
  • Adjust Tension Settings: Spandex requires specific tension settings on your serger to prevent puckering or overstretching. Experiment with the tension dials on your machine to find the perfect balance. Lower the tension slightly for spandex to prevent stretch distortion.
  • Choose the Right Stitch: Opt for a three-thread overlock stitch or a four-thread overlock stitch for sewing spandex with a serger. These stitches provide both stretch and strength, essential for elastic fabrics like spandex.
  • Test on Scrap Fabric: Before sewing your spandex project, test your serger settings on a scrap piece of spandex fabric. This allows you to adjust the tension and stitch settings without risking damage to your main project.
  • Use Quality Thread: Choose high-quality polyester thread designed for stretch fabrics. Polyester thread has some stretch to it, which helps prevent breakage when the fabric stretches.
  • Avoid Pins: Pinning spandex can leave permanent holes or snags in the fabric. Instead of pins, use clips or fabric weights to hold the fabric layers together when serging.
  • Practice Proper Handling: When feeding the spandex through the serger, avoid pulling or stretching the fabric. Gently guide it through the machine to maintain even tension and prevent distortion.
  • Finish Edges Seamlessly: A serger can create clean, professional-looking edges on spandex garments. Experiment with different stitch widths and settings to achieve the desired finished look.
  • Consider Using Differential Feed: If your serger has differential feed, adjust it to match the stretch of the spandex fabric. This helps prevent bunching or gathering of the fabric layers as you sew.
  • Practice Patience: Sewing spandex with a serger may require some trial and error to get the settings just right. Be patient and take your time to achieve professional results.

Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to sewing spandex with a serger. Don’t be discouraged by initial challenges, and keep experimenting to find the techniques that work best for you.


In conclusion, mastering how to sew spandex with a serger opens up a realm of creative possibilities. Elevate your sewing game and infuse your wardrobe with customized, snug-fitting garments that stand out. From yoga pants to dancewear, the possibilities are endless.

So, embark on this journey armed with newfound expertise in how to sew spandex with a serger. Embrace the stretch, celebrate the comfort, and revel in the tailored fit. Your creations will not only turn heads but also withstand the test of time. Start sewing your spandex masterpiece today and witness your creations come to life with a flawless finish. Happy sewing!


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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use a Regular Sewing Machine to Sew Spandex Instead of a Serger?

A regular sewing machine can handle sewing spandex, but using a serger has advantages. A serger creates stronger seams, reduces fraying, and provides a professional finish. It is recommended for sewing stretchy fabrics like spandex.

How Do I Prevent the Fabric From Puckering While Sewing Spandex?

To prevent fabric puckering while sewing spandex, it is important to choose the right tension on your machine. Adjusting the tension will ensure that the fabric is sewn smoothly and without any puckering or distortion.

What Type of Needle Should I Use When Sewing Spandex With a Serger?

When sewing spandex with a serger, it is important to select the appropriate needle to prevent fabric distortion. The choice of needle will depend on the weight and stretch of the spandex fabric.

Can I Use a Regular Thread or Do I Need to Use a Specific Type of Thread for Sewing Spandex?

When sewing spandex, it is crucial to consider the type of thread used. While regular thread may be sufficient for some projects, using a specific thread designed for stretch fabrics will ensure optimal results. Additionally, choosing the right stitch length is essential for maintaining the fabric’s elasticity.

How Do I Prevent Skipped Stitches When Sewing Spandex With a Serger?

To prevent skipped stitches when sewing spandex with a serger, it is important to troubleshoot tension issues. Adjusting the tension settings, using the appropriate thread and needle, and ensuring proper fabric handling can help achieve smooth and secure stitches.

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