The Ultimate Guide to Sewing with Scuba Fabric
Scuba fabric, often surrounded by confusion for those new to sewing, is a versatile material that has made its mark in high street fashion, particularly for spring and summer collections. Unlike the traditional neoprene used in wetsuits, which is thicker and includes a foam layer, scuba fabric is thinner and more flexible, making it an excellent choice for a variety of sewing projects.
Understanding Scuba Fabric
Scuba is essentially a type of double-knit fabric, similar in construction to Ponte Roma but distinct in its composition and properties. Typically made from polyester, scuba fabric stands out for its significant stretch and excellent recovery, a feature that is particularly appreciated by sewers who, like many of us, might stretch fabrics accidentally during the sewing process.
Creative Uses for Scuba Fabric
Scuba's unique structure and texture make it ideal for crafting dancewear, leggings, and especially dresses suited for evening or party wear. Its care is straightforward, adding to its appeal for both sewing enthusiasts and fashion designers.
Lithodora Scuba made into the Butterick B6317 sewing pattern
A customer make sent in to us by Margaret
Sewing Tips for Scuba Fabric
When sewing with scuba, consider using larger stitches to accommodate its stretch and 'spongy' texture. A ballpoint needle is recommended for knit fabrics like scuba, as it can navigate the knit structure without piercing and potentially damaging the fabric. This small adjustment can make a significant difference in the sewing experience and the final product's quality.
One of the fantastic advantages of scuba is its no-fray characteristic, which means hemming is not always necessary. This feature is particularly beneficial for sewers pressed for time, allowing for the creation of beautiful garments without the additional step of hemming.
Croft Mills Top Tips on Sewing with Scuba;
- Use the Right Needle: Opt for a ballpoint needle to prevent snagging or damaging the fabric. Ballpoint needles are designed to slide between the fabric yarns rather than piercing them.
- Adjust Stitch Length: Increase your stitch length slightly when sewing with scuba, as its stretchy nature and thickness require more space between stitches to maintain flexibility.
- Avoid Stretching: Be careful not to stretch the fabric while sewing. Scuba's excellent recovery means it will bounce back, but overstretching can distort seams and hems.
- Test Settings: Always test your stitch settings on a scrap piece of scuba fabric before starting your project to ensure tension and stitch length are suitable.
- No Hemming Required: Scuba does not fray, so hemming is optional. This can save time and effort, especially on projects with a tight deadline.
- Use a Walking Foot: If available, use a walking foot attachment on your sewing machine to help feed the scuba fabric evenly, preventing stretching or puckering.
- Press Gently: If you need to press seams, use a low heat setting and a pressing cloth to protect the fabric. Avoid high heat, which can melt or distort scuba fabric.
- Choose Appropriate Projects: Scuba is best suited for garments that benefit from its structure and stretch, such as fitted dresses, leggings, and swimwear. Take a look.
- Pre-Wash Fabric: While scuba generally retains its shape and colour well, pre-washing your fabric can prevent any potential shrinkage or dye transfer after your garment is made.
- Be Mindful of Bulk: When working with multiple layers of scuba, be aware that its thickness can add bulk. Trim seam allowances and reduce bulk where possible.
Wash and Care for Scuba Fabric
Caring for scuba fabric ensures its longevity and maintains its unique texture and colour. Follow these simple guidelines to keep your scuba garments looking their best:
- Machine Wash Cold: Use a gentle cycle with cold water to prevent shrinking and preserve the fabric's vibrant colours.
- Use Mild Detergent: Opt for a mild detergent to protect the fabric's integrity and avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the fibres.
- Avoid Fabric Softeners: Skip the fabric softener, as it can coat the fibres, reducing the fabric's breathability and moisture-wicking properties.
- Tumble Dry Low or Air Dry: If machine drying, use a low heat setting. For best results, air dry your scuba garments by laying them flat or hanging them up to prevent stretching and heat damage.
- Do Not Iron Directly: If you must iron, use a low heat setting and always place a pressing cloth between the iron and the scuba fabric to avoid melting or distorting the material.
- No Bleach: Never use bleach on scuba fabric, as it can break down the fibres and cause discolouration.
By adhering to these care instructions, your scuba fabric creations will retain their shape, colour, and texture, ensuring they remain a staple in your wardrobe for seasons to come.
Exploring Scuba Fabric Further
Whether you're an experienced sewer or just starting, understanding how to work with scuba can open up a world of creative possibilities.
We encourage our community to share their scuba fabric creations and experiences. Whether through comments, our Facebook page, Instragram or Twitter, your insights help inspire and inform fellow sewers. For those interested in adding scuba to their fabric collection, explore our range to find the perfect match for your next project.