Neoprene And Scuba Fabric Guide 78

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How To Sew With Neoprene & Scuba Fabrics

Neoprene and scuba fabric guide. What are they, how to sew them and what's the difference

Often people are intimidated by the idea of sewing with neoprene or think it is just for wetsuits. Then there is also a lot of confusion between what neoprene is and what scuba fabric is, which often adds to people feeling like they don't know what to buy or use for different projects. Hopefully this will make things a little clearer as to what neoprene is and what scuba fabric is, how to sew with them, and what to use them for.

So What Is Neoprene Fabric?

Simply put, it's a man made spongy synthetic rubber material sandwiched between 2 pieces of fabric. The fabric used is typically either nylon or polyester. There is often spandex or elastine mixed in to increase flexibility and stretch as well (usually 2 way stretch). If this is used as part of a wetsuit, it makes it easier to move in, which makes it easier to swim.

What's the difference?

Nylon coated neoprene - slightly stronger than polyester.

Polyester coated neoprene - colours stay true for longer in direct sunlight exposure.

There really is very little between them, and to the naked eye are hard to tell apart. Because the fabric is glued to the rubber, there tends not to be a typical selvage edge.

how to identify neoprene fabric

What about Neoprene Thickness?

Neoprene fabrics can be anywhere from about 1mm-7mm. The nylon or polyester usually accounts for about 0.2mm so the rest is all about the amount of rubber you have.

1-2mm is usually fine for most domestic sewing machines to work with. 3mm will depend on the machine, and anything 4mm and above is recommended only for industrial sewing machines.

The thicker the fabric, the greater the insulating qualities. Therefore it is not recommended to use anything less than 2mm for wetsuits. 6-7mm is usually recommended for deep sea diving where the pressure on the rubber is greater, therefore compressing it to a thinner thickness that it would be on land.

Neoprene doesn't usually have a "right side" which is perfect for reversible projects.

Neoprene Fabric double sided, works well for reversible projects

Is Neoprene Waterproof?

Some say yes, some say no. The answer? It is moderately resistant to both water and oxygen. This means that when used as a wetsuit, water is not kept out. A small amount of water gets in but finds it difficult to escape. Therefore it warms up against the skin, helping the insulating effect further.

So as far as sewing projects go, it would be water resistant enough to stop splashes of water getting through but I wouldn't count on it keeping all the water out if you are submersing it.

Neoprene fabric holds its shape when you try to drape it

Washing instructions for neoprene varies. Generally though most people recommend hand washing. Neoprene rubber can withstand very high temperatures and is known for being durable and resistant to abrasion, but the agitation of machine washing may effect the water resistant properties especially on seams where fabrics are pulled and stretched. Pre-gluing seams before sewing can help to reduce this. The neoprene rubber is glued to polyester (or nylon) on both sides, and some people feel that the friction with machine washing may reduce the life of the glue, especially where it is exposed on the edges.

Neoprene does not tend to wrinkle so there is usually no need to iron. If required you can iron briefly with a pressing cloth. Keep in mind that it is an insulating material so it will suddenly get extremely hot. Therefore do it with extreme caution and do not stay in the same place for long.

Tips for sewing with neoprene

A heavier duty needle is best (>size 80 or denim)

A knit foot or walking foot helps to move the fabric through the machine together. I would also recommend sewing slowly to help feed the fabric though together.

It is easier to sew with a long stitch length, and I prefer less tension, but you may need to experiment on your machine to find the best setting.

If you have them, you may find sewing clips easier to use than pins.

I haven't personally tried it, but I have heard of people using a water based lubricant on the needle to help it move through the neoprene more easily.

How to sew neoprene with a knit foot

What is Scuba Fabric, & What Is The Difference Between Scuba & Neoprene?

This fabric is commonly confused for being neoprene, and even gets called "neoprene-type" fabric, or "fashion neoprene" however, it is not neoprene. It is a spun polyester with spandex or lycra double knit. (This means that 2 fabrics are knitted simultaneously together). Some patterns even look like 2 different fabrics stuck together. Because of the double knit being done with such small fibres it has a smooth surface and a springy feel to it similar to that of neoprene, only it is thinner, more flexible and has better drapeability, yet still has enough body to it to hold some shape.

What does scuba fabric look like - double knit, non reversible

Because it is a knit fabric, it wont fray so edges can be left raw or bound. Be aware that hemming a thick fabric like scuba will add bulk which may alter the way the fabric moves and flows. Being a knit fabric it will also have a selvage edge and may or may not be reversible.

How to tell the difference between scuba and neoprene - scuba selvage

Like neoprene, scuba fabric is not renowned for being breathable, and can get quite warm, so it is probably not the best fabric choice for a summer dress. However, because of the way it holds its shape, it can be fantastic when incorporated into clothing such as a jacket, top or as a skirt, or winter dress, and it is often used in lingerie. It can look especially pretty with some of the stunning prints available in scuba fabric. It is frequently used in body hugging dresses, but is equally good when cut with some slack at creating a floaty effect away from the body which is great for plus size sewing too.

Drape on scuba fabric holds some body but less shape than neoprene

It is usually recommended to wash scuba fabric at 30-40ºc. Lower temperatures help protect the life of the lycra / spandex element to the fabric, as will air drying instead of tumble drying.

Tips For Sewing Scuba Fabric

Because scuba is a double knit, it is inherently more stable than standard knit fabric. This make it much more like a thick cotton to work with. So, when picking patterns, allow for more fabric than you would for example with a standard jersey. Because it holds it's shape more, any little gathers or pleats will be more obvious so either prepare to make a feature of them or pick a pattern where you can avoid them. You also wont be able to easily press seams out flat so this will make them stand out even more.

Because the amount of stretch to your scuba fabric will be dependant on the amount of spandex, you may be able to treat it as a woven and use a universal needle with a straight stich if there is little stretch, or you may find you are better with a ballpoint needle sewing either zigzag, using an overlocker (serger) or using a double needle. You may want to sew a sample piece and give it a stretch to make sure your stitching doesn't break. Either way, you wont have edges trying to roll as you sew them, and you don't even need to finish the raw edges if you don't want to. They wont fray.

A knit foot or walking foot will help it move through the sewing machine more evenly while holding it in place during stitching. This helps reduce skipped stitches when sewing with any knits in my experience. Longer stitch lengths also help.

Feel free to iron it as you would any other polyester knit. It's just twice the thickness. However it tends not to wrinkle or crease, and your going to find it more difficult to iron the bulk out of your seams so you may or may not wish to use one.

As with any fabric, we recommend you prewash.

how to sew with scuba dress fabric

How To Embroider On Neoprene And Scuba

Neoprene and scuba can both be embroidered on with an embroidery machine or sewing machine. You will need to stabilise your fabric, however it is too thick to hoop and the stretch of the fabrics mean that you are more likely to end up distorting any embroidery as it will stretch unevenly as you try to hoop it. Therefore this is my preferred method. Firstly, hoop only your stabiliser. I find 1 piece of good quality tear away stabiliser is fine. Then spray temporary adhesive to the stabiliser inside the hoop.

Place your neoprene or scuba directly on top and on a flat surface smooth it out over the adhesive on the stabiliser.

how to embroider neoprene or scuba fabric with temporary adhesive to a hoop
neoprene scuba fabric tutorial smoothing out ready for embroidery
how to embroider on neoprene or scuba fabric

If you are embroidering a very large piece, then the weight of the fabric may pull it slightly out of shape, so rather than overdoing the adhesive and gumming up your needle, you may find that a pin in each corner holds it firmer and prevents any distortion.

I find that less complex patterns such as redwork or simple outlines with satin stitches and appliques work well. Running stitches or fine complex lines can look a little swallowed up in the thickness of the neoprene. Dense stitching can give it more of an embossed look. If you want to make this less so, a water soluble stabiliser on top may help improve it.

As with any knit, the denser the embroidery stitching, the more it reduces stretching in that area, so you may with to cut your pattern piece out after embroidering on it to accommodate for that or any distortion to the fabric shape that may have occurred.

I would also only embroider on 2mm neoprene. Much larger depth than that will make the stitches less distinct, but the embroidery machine may also struggle with the thickness and friction from the increased amount of rubber.

Please note that when embroidering on ready made neoprene items, that some may have additional backings or fabric treatments on that can cause more difficulty sewing through too.

Have you sewn with neoprene or scuba fabrics? What did you make? How did you find it?

We hope you enjoy our tutorials and love hearing what you think so please leave us a comment.

Happy Sewing!

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78 thoughts on “Neoprene And Scuba Fabric Guide

  • Michelle O'Donnell

    Hi, your link to neoprene supplier doesn’t work?

    Could you please recommend a good supplier? I am based in Amsterdam.

    Thanks for your site!

  • Lynn

    I made a dress and am struggling with keeping the side seam from looking “lumpy” at the hip area. Wondering if I can hold open a seam using heat and bond on scuba fabric. How hot of an iron can this fabric take? Will it bond enough to keep the side seam open?

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Rather than risking damaging the fabric with heat, why not use a couple of dots of fabric glue if you want to hold open the seam? Maybe test on a scrap of the fabric first if you can. Also it is worth noting that as neoprene doesn’t fray, it look better just by trimming down some of the seam bulk at this point instead.

  • Patricia Hornbaker

    Hello! Is there a good way to remove hoop marks/ burns from neoprene? I used magnetic hoop while embroidering and the mark is very visible. I’ve tried wetting it and steaming the area. It helped some but the mark is still very visible. Does it come off with time?

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      The best way to try to flatten any creases from neoprene is usually to stretch it out flat for 24 hours. If however after a week of stretching it flat, the marks are still there, then chances are that the hoop has damaged the neoprene cells inside the fabric which is what gives the fabric its shape. As for burn marks, burns are permanent damage to the fabric so maybe you could applique something over it to hide it? In future, the way I embroider onto neoprene is to hoop only the stabiliser, then use a temporary adhesive spray on the stabiliser. I then lay the neoprene over the top of the hoop, gently pressing to make sure it is stuck down before embroidering. If it doesn’t feel like that will be enough to hold, you could use a pin or 2 to keep the neoprene and stabiliser together. It will leave a small pin mark so I only do that when necessary. I hope that will work better for you in future. Best wishes. Linda

  • Vivi

    Thanks for this very interesting post. I am a bit confused about when to use (medium weight) scuba fabric vs when to use standard (light weight) lycra fabric lined if needed (for a white dress for example). Do you have any tips? Should I choose one or another depending on the design of the dress or top?
    Thank you.

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Personally, I would consider the structure of the dress that you are trying to make and how breathable you want it to be. If for example, I was making a dress that was made up of a bodice with a circle skirt, I might want to pick scuba to give it a more dramatic silhouette by holding the skirt further from the body without a petticoat. However, if I wanted that same dress to have a more floaty light movement to it and hang near the body at rest then lightweight lycra would be better as you could potentially line the bodice for more structure and shape but leave the skirt unlined for movement. If I was making a dress with sleeves then I would either combine fabrics (which may not be suitable for all dress patterns) or pick the lycra over the scuba unless it was for wearing in winter. You might also want to consider how you want your raw edges to be finished too, as traditional hems can look bulky in scuba so I prefer to either leave them raw (they won’t fray) or finish them with bias binding. Whereas in comparison, some lycra fabrics can be prone to curling more if left unhemmed. Hope that helps!

  • Alfie

    Hello. Thank you for the explaination of neoprene and scuba fabric. Do you know of any strong adhesive which would be able to stick neoprene together or scuba and neoprene together? I’m sure sewing is the best option but I can’t use sewing in my application. The adhesive must also be waterproof. Might be a long shot but I thought I would ask anyway.



    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Sorry, I’m not sure which would be best. I imagine any fabric glues that are washable would hold up for wet fabric use but you might want to check the exact purpose with the glue manufacturers.

  • Deb Scales

    You provided an excellent explanation on Scuba material which has made me incorporate it into a jacket I am making, where I ran out of material. Thank you,

  • John Brooks

    Hello! Not sure if you know the answer but I’d like to cut a slit in the back of some 3mm neoprene scuba gloves and put a snap-in (line 24?) snap in place. I use the gloves on my bicycle and it would be easier to get them on/off if I could open them up a tad.

    Do you know if the neoprene is sturdy enough to take a snap in that way? I’d be grateful for your thoughts or opinions.

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Because of the stretch in the fabric, you would probably need a non-stretch fabric to stabilise any snap type that fixes through your neoprene fabric or it will just pull right through the neoprene as it will stretch around the hole. You could use a sew-in snap but in my experience, these tend to pull off often too as the stretch puts a lot more strain on the stitches. Maybe velcro could work better? I would also be wary about how your edges of the gloves are finished – if they are bound around the edges and you snip through the binding then that might cause issues for your gloves too with fraying and excess strain at your cut where the rest of the edge is sturdier. Maybe you could even consider sewing in a stretchy gusset area instead?

  • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

    I wouldn’t use either neoprene or scuba for a standard swimming costume. Lycra fabrics would be better. If you are planning on using it in a pool that has been treated with chlorine, it would be best to check if the fabric is made with swimsuits in mind or the dyes may be affected in the chlorinated water.

  • Gail

    Hello, thank you for your interesting article. I would like to use both these fabrics for something unusual. I wonder if you could give me some advice. I’m an artist and I like to cover my work when I transport it. I’d like to make a stretchy sock/bag that I can pull over the artwork and transport them in the car. I think for short distances the scuba fabric would be okay, and for longer trips or work that would need to be more protected, then the neopreen would probably be better, as it would take some knocks and bumps.

    What do you think? Am I on the right track with this type of fabric for this purpose?
    Thanks so much, Gail

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Hi Gail. That sounds like a good idea. The scuba wouldn’t offer much in the way of protection from the rain though so neoprene would be a better choice. If your art is flat then maybe you could make an extra pocket either side of the centre pocket with your artwork, then you could slide a piece of stiff card, foam board or mdf into the outer sides to make it more protected from being knocked about? If it isn’t flat, you could always do the same idea with foam to protect it more.

      • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

        Most plain coloured neoprene and scuba fabrics can be used on either side but you may want to cut out all of your pieces from the same side, just in case of slight colour differences between the sides.

  • Barbara

    I have let down the hem of a scuba dress that was a little short for me, my problem is careful ironing of the fold line has not removed it. I have ironed it on the inside and the outside, with steam and dry, but the crease is still there! I also tried washing it but still no joy! Any suggestions would be gratefully received and many thanks in advance

  • Laurel Collins Wright

    Where have you found to purchase neoprene fabrics? I am having a hard time finding a store or site that carries neoprene.


    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Hi, I am not a big hand stitcher, but this is what I would be considering – Neoprene and scuba don’t hoop very well because of the stretch and thickness as well as the potential to permanently mark the fabric. Plus knit fabric isn’t the easiest of fabric types to hand embroider. You will find it much easier to use a non-stretch stabiliser which will reduce the stretch and so reduce puckering and pulling on the fabric as you stitch – I would hoop just the fabric stabiliser. It can either be a self adhesive stabiliser or you can use a temporary fabric adhesive to hold it on. Try to keep the glue to a minimum where you are embroidering or it can gum up the needle and the needle will need wiping clean regularly to help it pass through easily. You could try basting the fabric on depending on the size and shape of your design as well as what the end use is – for example, you may not want to add more needle holes in some areas of neoprene if that part is being designed to be water resistant or if it is leaving obvious needle holes. You might want to check on a scrap or seam whether your basting stitches will mark the fabric if it is in an obvious spot. Hoopless embroidery is possible but would be far more difficult and need some practice to maintain an equal tension or it will likely distort your design.

      If you find it difficult to see your markings for your pattern you can draw it on to a sticky water soluble stabiliser, or attach a non-stick one with a temporary fabric adhesive. You can attach it to the front of the fabric so you can follow your pattern more easily, but make sure to test that the sticky doesn’t leave a residue on your material first. You can then soak your work after to remove the stabiliser and showcase your design.

      You may want to have a thimble or needle puller on hand to make it easier to pass the needle through the neoprene especially the thicker neoprene types. Smaller stitches will usually launder better but don’t make stitches on neoprene too small or they seem to get lost in the fabric. Thicker embroidery threads also help the stitches to stand out from the neoprene. Avoid using any threads that are labelled as craft thread or craft floss as these tend to break more easily which isn’t ideal when you are adding them to a stretch fabric.

      Hope that helps! I’d love to hear how you get on and what worked best for you.

  • Andrea

    Hi. I’ve made a skirt and two dresses so far (a body tight dress and one with a circle skirt, both sleeveless), using scuba fabric. The waistband came out too large in all cases because of the stretch of the fabric, even when I took that into account while making the pattern, so there is a bit of trial and error before getting the right size, but I really like the drape of the fabric. I wouldn’t make anything with sleeves or pants with this fabric, though, not for myself. Maybe it would be good for really thin people, who need the insulating properties of this fabric.

    I still have some fabric, will try to make different patterns to see how they drape (a dress with a pleated skirt and a dress with a circle skirt that’s not separately attached).

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I completely agree that it’s easy to underestimate the stretch end up with a large waistband – I’ve done that too! It makes for great skirts and cap sleeve/sleeveless dresses. It could work well for a light jacket/cardigan design with sleeves though or some nice winter hiking trousers where the extra warmth is welcomed.

  • Flo

    Hello. Thank you for the interesting article on neoprene. I’m using a “cosplay” neoprene fabric that is fairly thick to make an “Astronaut” jacket for a young child. It will have a zipper, and the pattern calls for interfacing. What interfacing would you recommend?

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Hi Flo. I haven’t personally used interfacing with neoprene but my best guess would be a medium interfacing – too light and it won’t add much structure and too heavy and you will make it difficult for the child to move as neoprene already holds some shape. Sew in interfacing would be my preference with neoprene as it’s not really advisable to use an iron with neoprene for long because it can suddenly become extremely hot due to the insulating nature of the fabric. If you do decide to try it, I would suggest a small test piece first to check how well it would bond and to do it under a pressing cloth for brief periods. You will need to use extra caution to avoid melting anything surrounding you or burning yourself. If you have large areas of stiff sew in interfacing and neoprene that aren’t fixed together you may find that the layers tend to separate on movement as the neoprene will hold some structure on it’s on so won’t necessarily lie flat on the interfacing in the same way that for example, a cotton would. You may need to add some hidden stitches or quilting to hold your layers. I would also be mindful that if you are adding interfacing and a lining to your neoprene, you will find that the seams will become very bulky which may cause difficulties for your sewing machine so you may want to keep the thickness of your lining fabric and your seam type (e.g. no french seams) in mind too. I hope that helps! Linda

  • Bhavin

    I m using 3.5mm neoprene for making of laptop sleeves. now i m planing to use neoprene in fashion and clothing industries.
    Can u please guide me what thickness of neoprene will be helpful for the fashion and clothing.
    As we are interested to make daily wear for all from neoprene material , so we request you to guide us what thickness and fabric (both side of neoprene ) should be used.
    We hope you will give us an perfect solution for our above inquiry.

  • Diana french

    I’m using 2.5 to 2mm scuba- neoprene. I have regular seams in my piece I’m sewing.
    I am advised to use a denim or number 20 needle. No polyester thread. I’ve made some samples and have used the straight stitch and it seems to work fine. Do you really need the zigzag stitch, if the straight stitch seems to work?
    Thank you

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      It’s not about how it sews but how it moves. Neoprene stretches but a standard polyester thread doesn’t. The zigzag stitch allows some thread movement as the fabric stretches which reduces your thread breakages on use. So if your stitching is somewhere that won’t be getting pulled around it will probably be fine, but if it is, for example, on a skirt, I would want to put ease in the thread either through a zigzag stitch, stretch stitch or with a double needle just like you would when sewing jersey.

  • Debrena

    Thanks for the very informative article, it was very useful. I was sewing sample today with scuba fabric and i lined it with crepe, for the seams to be not so bulky and have a finished look I binded them with the same crepe and it turn out very nice, my designer was very happy. I also top stitched any decorative seams so it make them stay flat and top-stitching is always a nice decorative detail. I sew it with the regular foot and with industrial machine and yes fabric moves a bit so I controlled it with both hands and give a little stretch while sewing so it turned out fine, but it wasn’t an easy sewn fabric i would say. But don’t make difficulties to stop any of you to try to sew this fabric, it looks great on a finished piece

  • Aura Guimarães

    Thank you for this amazing tips.
    I’m starting to work with scuba and neoprene but I’m not sure if I should use lining or not, or what type of lining because I want to do a mermaid dress with a sweetheart sweep.
    Hope you can help me!

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Hi Aura,
      I’m so pleased you found it helpful. Personally, I wouldn’t line it. It’s a thick fabric, so the less seams you make, the less bumpy the dress will look, so I keep sewing down to a minimum. If you want to see my take on how to make a dress with it, you can take a look here to see my scuba fabric dress tutorial.

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Hi. By definition, scuba fabric is not a cotton fabric. The closest kind of material you might find in cotton is a double knit fabric which can also be called interlock, however most double knit fabrics are polyester based.

  • Hannah Lerman

    Hi! This has been very useful for a project I’m working on. I wondered if you could offer some advice – I am making a bodysuit out of scuba material and the edges are quite loose (around my legs and around the breast area – it’s strapless). Do you think it is possible to sew elastic to the scuba to tighten it, then hem? And if so, what stitch would you recommend? Thank you so much!

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Hi, Sewing a hem with scuba fabric tends to make it bulky as it is, so adding elastic to that area will do so even more which will make it look quite bumpy, and could well make it a little uncomfy too. I’d be more inclined in the first instance see if bringing in the side seams fixes the problem (put it on inside out and use clips to see how brining it in would change how it sits. If this doesn’t change it then I would probably use fold over elastic as a binding instead to bring it in without adding the bulk of a hem as well as elastic. I hope that helps! Linda

  • Marissa Murphy


    Love your in-depth explanation on Neoprene I wish I had found your page weeks ago because it would have saved me so much time on the research I have been doing Typical ay!!

    I’m a small start up business designing high tailored fashionable rain wear and I’v recently been sent a sample of Neoprene and have fell in love with it as I think it would be amazing to work with for some of my design idea’s.

    The huge problem that I’m finding is actually purchasing it by the meter as it seems to be so expensive to buy? I am looking for pastel colours for a collection I’m designing, I have seen it in the colours I’m after on a few oversea’s sites but like I said again its extremely expensive.

    Would you happen to know where I could buy this fabric from? Thank’s to you fab explanation of it’s use I now know how to use it, all that’s missing is the fabric!!

    Thanking you in advance for taking the time and best of luck.

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Hi Marissa. I’m so glad you found our guide helpful. We normally have about 6 colours in stock but have currently run stock low as we are in the middle of moving premises. Our wholesaler doesn’t carry pastel colours but you’re very welcome to email me if you’d like to discuss bulk prices of any of the colours we normally hold. PUL fabric would work very well for rain wear too, so maybe have a think about that as the colour range is much bigger there. We have plenty of those in pastels. For more info, have a look at our PUL fabric guide. Best wishes for your new business. I’m sure it’ll do fab.

  • Susie Sole

    My daughter is in a wheelchair and I am looking for a fabric as a lining for the skirts that I make for her. The fabric is to be non slip. I notice all you comments above. Is it possible that I could buy other colours than just black and white, where I could buy them and what depth the fabric should be, I believe it only should be thin.
    There is another thing I am in Australia I have searched and cannot find a comprehensive site such as yours. Cheers Susie Sole

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Hi Susie

      Yes Neoprene is not slippy, and we do stock it in several colours here – Neoprene Fabric (with Australia shipping available at checkout). However, my main concern when combining it with a skirt for a wheelchair would be that if it folds underneath her, and if your daughter doesn’t have very good sensation, she may not be aware of the extra bulk. If she is prone to pressure sores, you may need to be extra vigilant so it may not be ideal. It may also bunch up at the sides of the chair unless it is a pencil shaped skirt. Neoprene would also be difficult to use as a skirt lining as it is so structured. I would personally (and have done) use it as a stand alone skirt (you can always applique on it to make it more fun!). If it was a lining it also wouldn’t be in contact with the cushion so I doubt it would be as effective at stopping sliding. Because neoprene stretches and holds its shape so well, it doesn’t need an elastic waistband which is good for wheelchair comfort. The other thing I would consider is the temperature. It would be great at helping her keep warm in the winter but she may find it uncomfortably warm in the summer as she can’t move around to allow air to circulate better inside it. If it was a full length skirt, it may also be more difficult to bunch up out of the way for toileting.

      When using neoprene fabric for clothing, I would recommend ideally under 3mm thick. Domestic sewing machines start struggling to sew it above 2mm anyway which is why our neoprene is all 2mm.

      I wonder whether a neoprene cushion cover would have a similar effect without having as many considerations to the clothing? I know some people use sheepskin liners to help stop sliding in wheelchairs. A very cheap idea to try might be to put a flat silicone baking sheet between her cushion and clothes as that would be even more non-slip than neoprene. It may get a little more sweaty though – or you could potentially even use a piece of the non slip fabric that is aimed at stopping things from sliding around on car dashboards. They are usually a mesh, so would be more breathable. There are also wedge shaped cushions, moulded bottom shaped wheelchair cushions and also some wheelchairs allow the seat to be tipped slightly into a more reclined position to help stop sliding if it is a persistent problem – I expect there are more ideas out there too that I’m yet to come across!

      I hope that helps answer some of your questions.
      Linda x

  • Amy

    I have found a fabric online listed as “Neoprene Scuba fabric, 90% polyester and 10% spandex, 1.5mm thick”, and I’m not sure which of the fabrics you’ve described above it actually is. Any information would be much appreciated! I have some fabric-coated neoprene that I sewed with in the past, but when I tried using that same material recently, I found it impossible to sew this time – The bobbin thread just won’t be engaged. So now I am looking at this other fabric online for the project I have in mind. Thanks for any help!

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      I would guess that either it is scuba or sometimes you can get a fashion only neoprene like fabric which is filled with a spacer material instead of neoprene. You would probably be better to check with the people selling it as they should know what it is. As to why you were having problems with your sewing machine last time, then maybe you needed a different needle for that particular fabric. Depending on the degree of stretch – you could try ballpoint, double needle, stretch jersey needle, or maybe if it isn’t too stretchy, about 100 size universal. Or the needle you had in might have been bent or not inserted quite right. If the neoprene is too fat for your machine you wont get far, and if there were any issues with how the bobbin thread was put in, then it wouldn’t have worked properly. For more ideas, you might want to have a look at our sewing machine troubleshooting guide here –

  • Sam Williams

    Hi, Im wondering what is the best thread to use when sewing a stretchy knit material like 90% Polyamide 10% Elastane, like those little crop tops you can wear instead of a bra, as normal cotton just doesn’t work because the stretch isn’t there and it just makes it an awful finish, i’ve been told a nylon stretchy woolley thread would do it but i can’t find it anywhere in the midlands or on ebay, or the other thread was sera flock but i thought i would ask because i’m really not sure, i’ve got a normal sewing machine and an overlocker which i can use but don’t really know what to use lol and would the thread i’ve mention be good to sew jersey materials as well?.

    If you could help me i’d very much appreciate it.

    Thank you for your your help and time and i hope to hear from you in the near future.


    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Hi Sam. I’ve heard of that thread too but haven’t come across it myself yet either. When sewing with standard threads (I tend to prefer the polyester Moon threads) it isn’t so much how much stretch the thread has, but what stitch you select on your machine. A straight stitch wont allow for any thread movement and so it will break. You can sew with a narrow zigzag but I personally don’t like the look of the finish. Many sewing machines have a specific stretch stitch which often has a symbol a bit like a lightning bolt. What I prefer to do though is to sew a straight stitch with a ballpoint double needle. This allows movement underneath where the threads wrap around the bobbin thread. You may need to experiment with your stitch settings. I find that a slightly longer stitch length with slightly less tension allows for better movement. I’m afraid I have never used an overlocker so I’m probably not the best person to give advice there.
      Hope that helps!

  • Lois Graves

    Thanks a lot for your guidance in sewing scuba knit it’s been giving me a headache as the stitching wouldn’t catch. I hope I’ll have more success now.

      • Ann Stiteler

        I also cannot get my stitches to catch while using a double needle on scuba fabric for hemming sleeves and bottom hem. Any advice? I am using a walking foot and the machine is threaded correctly. However, when I use the same setting on woven or wool scraps it all works fine. Do you know what I’m doing incorrectly?

        • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

          Hi Ann, I would try another stretch fabric and see if it will sew that. It is most likely an issue with the needle rather than the fabric. I always make sure to use a ballpoint double needle for sewing fabrics with stretch. A universal double needle will work beautifully with the woven and wool but give it jersey or scuba and that’s exactly what tends to happen to me.

  • Debbie Naples

    I purchased a designer scuba skirt at Nordstrom’s. It needed to be shortened so the tailor cut it so it has a raw hem. My dry cleaner is concerned it will fray and said that it should be cut “hemmed” with a laser. So you agree and if so where would I find someone t do that?

    Thank you.

    • Sewing Bee Fabrics Post author

      Scuba fabric doesn’t fray and I can’t say I’ve ever heard that advice before. Having never used lasers myself, I should imagine it would give the same finish as using a hot knife. The edges will look more professional, straight and give a sealed look, but as scuba doesn’t fray, no difference there either way. I have a very well used and loved scuba top which I only cut with scissors and gets chucked in the washing machine with everything else and shows no signs of any issues. The only time I could see it being a problem is if it were lined with a woven fabric or there was something like a metallic thread pattern running through it where that thread could start unravelling if it isn’t sealed in. Hope that helps!

  • Fi Ní Neachtáin

    Really informative post for all those who like to sew and are knowledgable about fabrics. I have to admit, I don’t know how to sew but I’d love to. I can imagine some fabrics are trickier to work with than others.

  • Ana

    This is very informative when it comes to material and honestly, I haven’t tried to use this fabric before.Hopefully in the future. Thanks for sharing

  • Catherine

    I can’t sew at all (apart from to sew on a button or something), but this was pretty interesting! I literally had no idea that’s how wetsuits worked…despite having worn them a few times.