Working with Neoprene and Scuba Fabrics

Neoprene and Scuba can be a real dream to sew!

Petal Top from Tammy Silver
Petal Top from Tammy Silver

These types of fabric are stretchy, comfortable, and come in many vibrant colours. There is no right or wrong side, making it perfect for sewing reversible clothing. Both fabrics don’t fray, so you can completely skip the hemming and overlocking part of the sewing process.

What is Neoprene?

Neoprene is a synthetic fabric that’s sandwiched between nylon or polyester, which is typically mixed with spandex or elastane for added stretch. It’s most popularly used in wetsuits but has also gained its place in the fashion industry because of its structure and versatility.

What is Scuba?

Scuba is a double-knit fabric that is mixed with spandex or lycra. This also comes in a variety known as scuba crepe which is a drapey lighter weight fabric.


What’s the difference?

Neoprene and scuba may look like similar fabrics but upon closer inspection, you’ll find that there are some notable differences. Neoprene is thicker than scuba. The thickness of neoprene fabrics can range from 1mm – 7mm, with 2mm being what most domestic sewing machines can handle. Neoprene has a two-way stretch, whilst Scuba has a four-way stretch; making scuba great for draping and sewing figure-hugging garments. To preserve Neoprene garments, I recommend hand washing your garment. Scuba garments can be placed in the washing machine.

Here are some useful sewing tips that will help you in your next sewing project:

Cutting these fabrics

Use pattern weights instead of pins, this will prevent your fabric from stretching out of place. For thicker fabrics like Neoprene, it’s best to cut your pattern pieces individually, instead of on the fold. Remember there’s no wrong side, so you don’t have to worry about flipping your pattern pieces over. Take care when cutting particular sections of your pattern, especially the areas that can be left raw such as the hem. Cutting precisely will give the raw edges a clean finish.

Selecting a sewing pattern

Neoprene and Scuba are thick fabrics, so it’s best to choose a design that will take into account the properties of the fabric. This will make your project easier to handle and your sewing machine will also thank you!

Sewing

Now you’re ready to sew, grab yourself a ballpoint needle, this is used to sew stretchy fabrics. This type of needle will prevent snagging and skipped stitches whilst allowing the fabric to maintain its elastic qualities.

The Best Seams

Use a plain seam or for added strength, a flat-felled seam. Once sewn, press your seam open with your iron on a low heat setting. Take care doing this as having your iron too hot could damage your fabric. Neoprene and Scuba can be quite resistant to wrinkling so ironing is usually not necessary.

Whether you’re sewing with Neoprene or Scuba, I hope these tips and tricks will help you in your next sewing project!
If you’d like to find more sewing tips to grow your sewing skills – click here