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Tips for Sewing with Organic Stretch Fabric

Tips for Sewing with Organic Stretch Fabric

Tips for Sewing with Organic Stretch Fabric

There are many different stretch fabrics out there from cotton jersey knits to cotton lycra and spandex knits. The fun thing about knits is that they are soft, comfortable and move with your body. Knits are wonderful for baby clothes and loungewear to yoga pants and stylish leggings! I have just started bringing knits into Spindle + Rose and I love the feel and stretch of them. I get most of mine from Monaluna Organics and Birch Organics but have just brought two in from a fun design company called Girl Charlee.

Two Swan Cotton Knits from Birch Organic   Two Spandex Cotton Knits from Girl Charlee

Swans on soft stretch knit fabric      Stretchy knit fabric by the yard

What I have noticed are the differences between my organic stretch fabrics and the Girl Charlee knits. Not only do they feel slightly different from one another, but the organics have a different stretch than the Girl Charlee and the two types move differently as I sew. Here are just a few tips I've found on working with stretch fabric that I am happy to share with you as well as some links to more in-depth stretch sewing blogs!

~ The best tip for sewing with stretch fabric is to play around with a piece first! It is good to pull on the fabric in different directions to know which way the stretch goes and how well your fabric recovers from being stretched. This helps just to get an idea of working with the fabric and what knits work best for which project. 


Stretch a scrap in your hands and identify which way the stretch goes. Some stretch fabrics only stretch up and down, but don't have nearly as much stretch left and right. These stretch fabrics are often referred to as 1-way or 2-way stretch. This can be confusing, but don't stress about the terms too much. This is more a reference when buying stretch fabric as some stretch fabrics, especially those with a mix of spandex or Lycra, not only stretch when you pull left and right, but also when you pull up and down. These stretch fabrics will often be described as 4-way stretch. My organic cotton knits have a 2-way stretch while my fox and deer knit from Girl Charlee made with a mix of 95% cotton and 5% spandex have a 4-way stretch. A good way to think about it is when you pull on a bathing suit. Bathing suits are mostly spandex and not only stretch a ton, but recover quickly and nicely from being yanked and pulled. My knits are not that stretchy :) However, I would make any of my knits into leggings, skirts, baby clothes, etc. They all have a nice stretch/recovery factor and are super soft and comfy! However, if you're looking for a lighter stretchy knit for leggings or yoga pants to strike a pose in, the stretchier knits from Girl Charlee are wonderful! Want more info on stretch and recovery? Check out this great blog where you can even find a free printable stretch guide to carry with you if you’re fabric shopping local stores.

stretch fabric, order organic stretch cotton fabric, buy stretch fabric online

~ Sew with your scrap stretch fabric. Something you do want to keep in mind with stretch fabrics is to try not to pull or push your fabric (don't feed it into machine) as you sew. Watch that the edges you aren’t working on aren’t draping over the sewing table causing pull to the parts you are sewing. If you do notice some stretch during the sewing process, hold an iron about an inch above the stretched seam and apply steam. The steam will help shrink the seam to its original size and shape. 

sewing with stretch fabric, sewing on stretchy organic fabric

~ Use ballpoint pins to hold your pieces of knit together that you are sewing. Dritz makes some great ballpoint pins that are short and have the ballpoint tip so they won't tear delicate knits. Use a ballpoint sewing needle on your machine instead of the universal one it may have came with to avoid any tearing. For more information on needles and the presser foot that helps when sewing stretch fabrics take a look at this VERY informative blog by sewist Haley Glenn. 

 P.S. Haley Glenn is also the Editorial Director of one of the prettiest blogs I've seen called Colette.

 Thanks for reading and don't be afraid to sew with knit! It's fun and there are so many stretchy projects to try!

animal print stretch fabric, organic animal print fabric, stretchy fabric with animals on it


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  • Alexa Clauson
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