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sewing lycra

Bobbi_Harner | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

How can you hem lycra pants (like the travel-knits) without lettucing occurring? I have tried longer stitches, shorter stitches, zigzagging, lighter presser foot and I still get cutsie-pie ruffles which I DON’T WANT.
Please help.



  1. Elona_Masson | | #1

    What's happening is that the fabric is stretching as you sew, maybe not much, but enough to ripple. Then, the thread is "locking in" the stretch, so to speak, causing your lettuce edge.

    There are a couple more things you can try. One is the technique sometimes called "ease plus." To do it, you position your left forefinger behind the presser foot, and as you stitch, you prevent the fabric from feeding through as fast as it would like. Let it really pile up for four or five inches, release, and repeat until you meet your own stitching line.

    Another trick is to feed the fabric into the front of the foot a bit faster. You can use anything that won't mar the fabric, such as a wooden point turner, to kind of act as another feed dog on top of the fabric, in front of the foot. Every few stitches, you give the material a little extra "push" toward the foot. With just a bit of practice, you will learn the rhythm you need to work with the machine's feed.

    If the leg opening is very narrow, you will still need to use at least a narrow zigzag to allow enough stretch to got over the foot and ankle.

    1. Karen_Vesk | | #2

      *An alternative to using a narrow zig zag is to use a twin needle - it gives a professional look.

      1. karen_morris_ | | #3

        *yes, i prefer the look of a twin needle--nice finish. and if you still can't get rid of the ripple effect, try cutting thin strips of fusible web or fusible interfacing and fusing it into the hem to stabilize it, before you sew the hem. then use the twin needle from the right side. marcy tilton told about this technique in a Threads article on sewing with knits (Nov. '97, no. 73, p. 45). it gives a beautiful result.

        1. karen_morris_ | | #4

          *oh--marcy's no-ripple hem technique is also included in her T-shirt article in Threads no. 65, pp. 62 - 67--a great article.

          1. Jennifer_Murphy | | #5

            *When I make lycra leotards, I just zig zag the sleeve hems, smallish zig zag, and let the fabric walk itself through - so far, no 'lettuce' edge! I do do a 2.5cm (about 1") hem, so maybe that has something to do with it.JenniferWestern Australia

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