Denim with Lycra
by Shannon Gifford
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  • Denim with Lycra

    Can there be a more universal fabric than denim? Denim is sturdy, resists soiling, and is easy to care for. It is also easy to sew! Denim blended with lycra adds to the comfort factor of this popular fabric. A denim garment is sure to be a favorite in your casual wardrobe.


    Denim with lycra should be washed in cold water, no bleach. Dry in a cool dryer, due to the lycra in the fabric.

    Needles and Thread:

    A universal 80/12 or 90/14 needle is a good choice for denim/lycra blends. Use cotton, cotton/polyester, or polyester thread for construction. There are specific denim topstitching threads marketed for use in making the traditional contrast outer stitching. Use one of these for the needle thread, using a thread to match the fabric in the bobbin. When using a topstitching thread, use the larger (90/14) needle, or use a "denim" needle (which is usually size 16 or 18).

    Seams, Seam Finishes, and Hems:

    A slightly elongated stitch (3.5 length) is a good choice for denim/lycra. Hems are best done by machine topstitching. A fell seam is the traditional construction seam finish for denim, but it can be tricky to perform neatly. Instead, stitch the seam with a 4 thread serged seam and press to one side. Topstitch from the outside, catching the seam allowance in the topstitching. If you do not have a serger, stitch a conventional seam, trim one side of the seam allowance to ΒΌ inch, and press the seam to cover the narrower trimmed seam allowance. Topstitch from the outside, catching the seam allowance in the topstitching.


    A weft-insertion interfacing is the preferred fusible for use with denim. If making pants or jeans, the perforated waistband elastic works well in denim. For additional stability around pocket openings, fuse a strip of the weft insertion where the stress of the pocket will take place. You'll be glad of the extra security.

    Pattern Suggestions:

    Simple dresses, jackets, and tops. Let simplicity be your rule here; the fabric is the star of this show! Eliminate from consideration anything with multiple pattern pieces, darts, or small pieces such as collars and welt pockets. If you plan to wear your beaded or sequin fabric under a jacket, use the beaded fabric for only the front of the top. Use a smooth fabric for the back of the top; it will be much more comfortable to wear.

    Pattern Suggestions:

    Jackets, coats, pants, jeans, skirts, shirt-jackets, overalls, children's wear, even tuxedos!

    Creative possibilities:

    Yes, you read it right; tuxedos! Use denim for the body of the jacket and satin for the lapels. Run a strip of satin down the side of matching pants. Denim and embroidery pair well together, particularly when using bright colors. Fabric painting, stencilling, and bleach/resist methods all work well with denim.

    Additional Tips:

    Seam allowances in denim can be bulky and tricky to stitch over neatly. In areas where you will need to cross a bulky seam allowance, pound the fabric with a hammer or a tailors' clapper. It will soften the fibers, allowing for more ease in stitching over the seam allowance.

    Copyright (c) 2018 by EmmaOneSock