How to Sew Stretch Fabric

By Kate Lee

Lots of great fabrics have some stretch to them, including t-shirt knits, fleece and even stretch velvet. These fabrics can be fun and easy to work with. They generally don’t ravel, making them great for projects you don’t want to hem and for garments with non-raveling seam allowances. You do, however, have to cut and sew stretch fabrics carefully to prevent them from getting stretched out of shape.

Sewing Stretch Fabric

Step 1

Cut the pattern pieces in the same direction, especially if the fabric stretches more in one direction than the other. In most cases, the fabric will stretch more from side to side than from top to bottom.

Step 2

Place the fabric pieces right sides together. Some fabrics, like stretch velvet, have very obvious right and wrong sides since one side is fuzzy and the other side is smooth or glossy, while other fabrics may only have a subtle difference in color or shine.

Step 3

Pin the fabric pieces together, making sure both pieces of fabric stay flat and not stretched in any way.

Step 4

Set the sewing machine to a normal stitch length. Straight stitches generally work best for stretchy fabrics. If you need to use a decorative stitch, you may want to baste the fabric together using a long, straight stitch first. Then do the decorative stitching next to the basting and remove the basting with a seam ripper.

Step 5

Set the sewing machine to a slow stitch speed, if it has a speed control. This will make it easier to feed the stretch fabric evenly through the machine, without pulling it out of shape.

Step 6

Sew the fabric pieces together, taking care to guide the fabric gently through the sewing machine’s feed dogs. Do not push or pull the fabric through.

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