What is scuba fabric?

Scuba fabric is a type of double knit made from polyester and spandex, with a very fine gauge thread, and smooth texture. It's a little springy, very smooth and has a nice drape to it. Scuba fabric should not be confused with neoprene which is a thicker synthetic rubber and fabric hybrid that is more durable, flexible and is often used for wetsuits. You can also buy a fabric called scuba crepe which is a lighter version of scuba, more like a traditional Lycra but with a crepe textured finish.

scuba sewing project

Former Love Sewing Editor Amy pictured above wearing a scuba fabric dress, she says:

"I love the effect you can achieve when you make a circle skirt out of scuba, it has a lovely sway when you walk and creates a structured silhouette.
sewing with scuba t-shirt pattern

In Issue 47 of Love Sewing, we have the ideal scuba t-shirt pattern for taking this fabric for a test drive. It's in size XS through to XL (from bust 72cm through to bust 126cm) Download the free sewing templates today to make yours. The pattern is designed by Sarah Wadey of My Handmade Wardrobe. The Cobras and Corsages scuba fabric is from Crafty Sew & Sew.

This gorgeous scuba fabric dress is McCall's M6886 which comes free with Issue 44 of Love Sewing we used Teal Scuba Fabric from Abakhan.

Top tips for sewing with scuba fabric

> This fabric can vary in thicknesses, be sure what you are buying when purchasing scuba fabric online

> Scuba cuts easily, try a smaller rotary cutter for any intricate cutting sections.  

> Prewash scuba as you should with any other fabric.  

> Use a stretch or ballpoint needle to prevent snagging and slipping - read our full sewing machine needle guide here for more help with needle choice.  

> Try using a walking foot to help avoid bunching beneath the presser foot. This will help to evenly feed the scuba fabric as you sew, for perfect results. For more help with choosing a presser foot read our sewing machine presser foot guide.

> Use scuba for structured garments as you won't need a lining, perfect for autumn and winter wear to keep you warm. Worth bearing in mind breathability when picking this fabric, you might not want to wear a clingy scuba dress on a hot day!  

> It doesn't have to be used just for tight fitting dresses, you can create a nice drapey effect with scuba.  

> You can leave edges raw, but we think it looks nicer finished. Try using a bias bound hem.  

> Unpicking can be tricky and can leave marks... take extra care!  

> If you use an overlocker take care as the extra bulk of scuba fabric can cause problems. It's best to trim seams by hand and then overlock with the knife disengaged.  

> Be sure to iron scuba on a low setting, this fabric will mark or even melt if iron too hot. The fabric is thick, so extra attention to pressing will give the best results.  

> Wash scuba garments at 30 or 40 degrees and avoid the tumble dryer, high temperatures will damage scuba fabric.

sewing with scuba mccalss 7536

This scuba fabric dress is McCalls M7536. It has been made with pretty blue floral scuba from Fabworks.

Seam finishes to use when sewing with scuba fabric

> Ballpoint needle stitch - use a three step zigzag stitch on the WS of the fabric so the zigzag covers over the raw edge, as mentioned scuba fabric won't roll but it does look good finished.  

> Twin needle stitch - Twin needle stitching is a bit more fiddly but it's a useful stitch as the bobbin thread creates a zigzag effect on the underside of the fabric and covers the raw edges of the hem. You need to be as accurate as possible for a professional finish. (practice, practice, practice!)  

> Overcasting - some machines have a special foot to use with a co-ordinating stitch which looks a bit like mountains and valleys, sometimes called over edge foot/stitch. The purpose is to give a neat finish to the raw edge and prevent unravelling, often used if an overlocker isn't available.  

> Overlocking - use an overlocker to finish the edges of seams and get a professional clean finish.

tips for sewing with scuba fabric

This is a dress our editor Amy is working on at the moment in scuba of course - we're looking forward to seeing her wear it into the office soon! So where are the best places to buy scuba fabric online?

Where to buy scuba fabric?

Here are a few links to shops that sell scuba fabric online, click the links to go directly through to the scuba fabric they have for sale at the moment. You'll see what beautiful bold prints you get with this modern fabric, it holds dye really well.  

Abakhan Fabrics

Minerva Crafts


Fabric Godmother

Happy sewing,