Scuba Fabric: What is it? How Best to Sew it?

 

Scuba fabric seems to be causing some confusion among newer sewers at the moment, so we thought we would try and explain what the fabric is and the best way to make it up. Scuba has been used in ‘high street fashion’ for a few years now for summer/spring clothing. So there is little wonder many of us want to use it in our own creations.

When people say ‘scuba fabric’ many think of the tradition neoprene fabric wetsuits are made from, however, scuba is more malleable and thinner (it also doesn’t have that layer of foam wetsuits have) so don’t let the name put you off.

It is, in fact, a double knit fabric, like a Ponte Roma – however, it would be unfair to compare the two as they are often made from different compositions. As a general rule Scuba fabrics tend to be made from Polyester, whilst Ponte Roma fabrics are usually from viscose and lycra.

They also have different properties, while Ponte Roma has stretch, scuba jersey is well known for having both good stretch and recovery. Something that you will appreciate if like me you tend to accidentally pull/stretch fabrics while sewing them!

 

What to Do with Scuba Fabric?

Scuba is generally used to make dance-wear, leggings and dresses (think of evening or party dresses) and is quite easy to care for. When sewing scuba, we would recommend using larger stitches than you may normally do so, to account for both the stretch and the ‘spongey’ texture of the fabric.

We would also suggest using a ball point needle, these can be easily (and cheaply) purchased and make the world of difference for knit fabrics. Knit fabrics such as scuba, jersey and Ponte Roma are knitted rather than woven, and a ball point needle will be able to slide through the gaps in the knit rather than piercing it.

If you are in a hurry to make a dress for a special occasion, scuba is a brilliant fabric to choose as you do not always need to hem it. In fact, if you are a sewer that is short on time, you can more often than not get away with no hemming as the fabric doesn’t fray.

We have a new Ultimate guide on sewing with scuba. Click the blog image to view our guide.

scuba

We hope this has cleared up some of the confusion about this fabric and given you a few inside tips on how to sew it with ease. If you have made something, or are making something out of Scuba fabric we’d love to see it and hear about your experiences. Let us know in the comments, on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter. If you want to add some scuba to your fabric stash, you can view our range here. 

Scuba Fabric

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What Is Scuba Fabric?

24 Comments

  • Reply
    Ms Isobel Fury ISOS Briefly
    10/03/2016 at 2:16 PM

    Could you send me scuba fabric samples please because I may be able to make swim suits and specialised medical underwear with that fabric especially if I do not need to overlock edges?

    Please change my email address from isobelfury@tiscali.co.uk to yahoo.co.uk because talktalk tiscali is not working.

    • Reply
      Rebecca
      11/03/2016 at 10:00 AM

      Hi

      Yes we’d be happy to send you some samples. If you can send your name/address to socialmedia@croftmill.co.uk and just let us know that it is scuba samples you want, I will ensure some get sent out to you.

  • Reply
    Judithrosalind
    29/03/2016 at 2:57 PM

    I would be interested to hear from people who have worn it and to hear if it gets hot/sweaty and also if it washes ok

  • Reply
    Janet Clar3
    06/04/2017 at 5:04 PM

    I have just bought some of this material to make a linger length jacket. I was also going to line the jacket, would you say that’s the right thing to do?

    • Reply
      Rebecca
      13/04/2017 at 10:01 AM

      Hi

      You shouldn’t need to line the jacket, you could try overlocking it though if you wanted.

      If I can be of any more help, please just let me know.

      Kind regards
      Rebecca

  • Reply
    Alison Jeatt
    13/04/2018 at 7:22 PM

    Could I use scuba fabric to embroider on, using an embroidery machine can it be used to make a quilt

    • Reply
      Rebecca
      16/04/2018 at 8:12 PM

      Hello Alison, thank you for your question. Scuba can be embroidered on, but needs to be stabilised. The draw back of Scuba is that it is quite thick and difficult to put into an embroidery hoop. Being stretchy it is easy to distort when sewing, the stabiliser helps in this matter but care is needed. As Scuba is thick it is hard to put it in a hoop, it is therefore recommended to put the stabiliser(maybe a tearaway one) fabric into the hoop and use a temporary spray adhesive to attach the Scuba to the stabiliser. This will not work for large embroidery designs(bigger than your hoop) as moving the stabiliser in the hoop underneath, will be impossible once stuck to the scuba fabric, without breaking it. I would try embroider on scrap fabric as you can see if the needle you are using and the tension you have set works with the fabric, a few adjustments to the tension may make a difference if it is pulling the fabric in tight. The needle needs to be a ball point but if you find it struggles to enter the fabric cleanly try a Denim needle, it kind of punches a tiny hole which “seals” itself on exit. All needles need to be new. Use simple embroidery designs as complex ones can make the area around the design hard and un-stretchy, if the embroidery design and the right side of the fabric is causing the fabric to pull in and pucker, try using a water soluble stabiliser. I have used a thin paper on top of some of my embroidery designs and I can tear it away and pick it out of the design, the paper is old “typing” paper, thinner than ordinary paper, but not tracing paper. Just experiment a bit with some scraps, you will learn what works with your set up. Please feel free to share your findings, I hope this helps you to get started.

  • Reply
    Yuki
    30/05/2018 at 1:08 AM

    If i wear one scuba layer in white tightly as skirt, will it show through when i‘m wearing black underwear underneath?

    • Reply
      Rebecca
      30/05/2018 at 3:39 PM

      Hello Yukki, I think to be on the safe side, the answer to your question is yes. It is better to wear white underwear with white scuba as it can show through if you are caught in certain light. Some thick scuba fabric will not show colour through if the base of it is a dark colour. Thin to medium thickness scuba in a light colour can have light shine through at odd angles and then the darker layers can be seen.

  • Reply
    Kathryn Peatey
    19/06/2018 at 1:18 PM

    Would this be a good fabric to use to make casual elasticated narrow leg, trousers that are popular at the moment?

    • Reply
      Rebecca
      20/06/2018 at 1:53 PM

      Hello Kathryn, Many thanks for your question. Scuba is tricky, to be the ideal fabric for tight trousers, you have to have just the right weight/thickness and stretch. A lot of the high street shops are selling scuba trousers and they look lovely, they would, however, have the fabric made up to their specifications. As Scuba fabric is made up of more than one type of yarn spun together, it is considered a hybrid fabric of sorts and depending on the mix of these yarns, bought scuba fabric may or may not be suitable for your trouser project. I would recommend you have a look at the following fabrics we have in stock that should be up to the job of making tight trousers. “I should be so lucky” available in black or grey. ” Kate Moss” available in black. ” Wriggle it in” is a stretch denim. If you are willing to take a chance, you may consider buying a scuba fabric that is not too thick and have a go. If you go down this route, please let us know the outcome. Croft Mill fabrics do sell scuba fabrics but we are not sure if they would be suitable, please look on our website https://www.croftmill.co.uk/products/fabrics-by-yarn/with-lycra-stretch-products.html?productPage=1 Many thanks

  • Reply
    Ojo Tolani Itunu
    11/08/2018 at 9:39 AM

    Please I’m presently sewing a scuba material in which zipper needs to be added, but I’ve been finding it difficult to fix the zipper, it bulges. What tips can you give me please, it’s urgent

    • Reply
      Rebecca
      11/08/2018 at 3:24 PM

      Hello, not knowing the thickness of your scuba fabric I am going to assume is is light to medium weight. Treat scuba like sewing a knit or stretch fabric. Interface the zipper opening. Fuse ( check if your scuba can be pressed – warm iron not hot) a 1-inch-wide strip of knit interfacing, cut on the cross-grain, to the wrong side of the zipper opening seam allowance. Extend it 1 inch below the opening.If this is not possible due to your circumstances then you may have to resort to using a piece of paper and picking the bits that have sewn in out afterwards, the paper should held stablise the fabric. The bulging occurs as the fabric is being fed through the feed at different rates, the scuba is stretching whilst the cotton/nylon zipper is not. You may need to try different thickness paper on scraps before you use it on your garment. There may be readers out there who can comment. Hope it works out. : )

  • Reply
    Geo Dress – multisize sewing pattern – paper or download – Sew Different
    10/11/2018 at 3:20 PM

    […] tropical version of the Geo Dress is made from a light weight scuba. Suprisingly, I have found that it works really well in knits and other stretch fabrics, […]

  • Reply
    Chia Min
    12/01/2019 at 7:42 AM

    Can scuba fabric sew with elastic waistband? Or it is not preferred to sew it with elastic waistband?

    • Reply
      Rebecca
      14/01/2019 at 10:08 AM

      Thanks for your question. Scuba comes in different weights/ thicknesses. If the scuba is lightweight or thin fabric it will gather with the elastic. If your scuba is medium to heavy weight it will gather but look very puckered and pokey. I would try using a scrap before using it for your main project if you are unsure of how it will gather. You sew scuba just like you sew jersey fabrics, Use a stretch needle. Hope this helps.

  • Reply
    Jo Slade
    23/01/2019 at 12:14 AM

    Hi, can I use scuba fabric, light/medium weight to make elasticated summer trousers? Also can I use it for an edge to edge jacket? Many thanks

    • Reply
      Rebecca
      23/01/2019 at 9:14 AM

      Hello, Scuba is fine for trousers, however, it is made with stretch and suited to more fitted trousers than drapey flouncy trousers. You can make them with an elasticated waist but try sewing a bit of scrap fabric and use the elastic you plan to use to see how you particular scuba crumples and stretches with the elastic. Some scuba fabrics are quite stiff and don’t crumple well they tend to “poke” or look like puckering rather than gathers. As regards the jacket, it will be fine to do an edge to edge jacket. Treat it like jersey fabric, reinforce seams that may stretch with wear like the shoulder seams, use a stretch interfacing for the front band to help it keep its shape. It should look very nice.

  • Reply
    mj2124Mary
    25/02/2019 at 12:15 AM

    I need to hem a formal full-skirt gown made of scuba fabric and I have to cut about 6 inches off the dress for the correct hem. Also the gown is lined with a very thin stretchy fabric, attached at the hem, which I plan to not reattach at the new cut hem because it pulls the hem up and doesn’t let it lie flat all around. My question is: Should I simply cut the dress at the marked hemline and leave the unfinished hem?

    • Reply
      Rebecca
      25/02/2019 at 10:32 AM

      Hello, Scuba gives a nice clean edge and does not fray or unravel. I would leave the hem unfinished however, if you want to finish it off you can use a binding method which does not stretch or pucker the hemline. Using a bias tape to finish a hemline video on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=681WDTcBr_E Bias hemming gives a neat edge and also prevent the material from stretching out of shape when cleaned. I hope this gives you some ideas.

  • Reply
    Mary
    25/02/2019 at 3:44 PM

    This is very helpful. I will not try any heroics!! It’s a very expensive dress. I will simply cut the hem at the hemline and maybe reinforce the stitching my hand at each seam along the hemline.

    • Reply
      Rebecca
      25/02/2019 at 4:14 PM

      tHAT SOUNDS LIKE A VERY GOOD PLAN. 🙂

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    03/04/2019 at 1:20 PM

    Hi I am a beginner sewist… I would like to know what size ballpoint needle would I need to purchase for my Singer 2282…I’m attempting to sew a wedding guest dress and I’m unsure which needle to purchase? Please help me…

    • Reply
      Rebecca
      03/04/2019 at 6:41 PM

      The size of the needle depends on the fabric. The thicker the fabric the thicker the needle. The standard size that covers most fabrics is 80/12. If you fabric is fine and delicate, use a 70/10 or 75/11. You may like to browse this blog (www.learn-to-sew.co.uk/sewing-machine-needles/) article on needles. It lists some fabrics and preferred needle sizes. Good luck with your sewing project. Tip: take your time, unpick if you have made a mistake. Happy sewing.

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