All About Neoprene Fabrics

Posted on May 12, 2016 by Stephanie Triplett

Are you familiar with the fabric, neoprene? If you’ve ever felt, worn, or seen a wetsuit (like the ones used for scuba diving or surfing) it was probably neoprene. As described by Mood’s fabric dictionary Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that’s often used to make wetsuits, hence its alternative name scuba knit. Neoprene has become increasingly popular as a material to wear and use (on land and sea) because of its many qualities like stain resistance and general durability. Keep reading to learn more about how to sew and care for neoprene.

neoprene fabric

Neoprene Overview:

Neoprene was made by Dupont as an alternative to natural rubber in the early ‘30s. Neoprene is a double knit fabric that can withstand temperatures from -50 degrees to 275 F. It varies in thickness, usually being 3-5 millimeters.

Neoprene Characteristics:

With so many excellent properties, it’s a wise choice for a wide variety of uses.

  • Water/weather resistance
  • Heat retention
  • Good elasticity
  • Chemically stable
  • Abrasion/tear resistance
  • Solvent resistance
  • Oil resistance
  • Fireproof
  • Non-toxic

Neoprene Uses:

While military and parliamentary organizations have a lot of applications for neoprene, there are many other end-uses from apparel, accessories, sports, and industrial products. If you’re interested in sewing with neoprene below are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Wetsuits/scuba gear
  2. Swimsuits 
  3. Electronics cases 
  4. Sportswear/sports bras
  5. Lunch bags
  6. Koozies
  7. Mouse Pads
  8. Gloves

Sewing with Neoprene:

Although it may seem tough at first glance to sew with neoprene, it’s quite manageable. Below are a few tips to make it even easier.

  1. Prep your neoprene by washing it in cold water and letting lie flat to dry
  2. For smooth edges use a rotary cutter when cutting out patterns 
  3. Use wonder clips to hold the fabric in place instead of pinning
  4. A ballpoint needle when sewing help prevent snags or holes
  5. Attach a walking foot to help prevent sliding and bunching
  6. Neoprene doesn't fray, so there’s no need to finish the edges

Washing Neoprene Garments:

The standard rule for washing neoprene is to launder with care. Use the tips below, and you’ll get the best wear from your neoprene.

  • Use fresh water to launder your garment
  • Don't use a washer or dryer
  • With a gentle soap, scrub neoprene by hand and then ring dry
  • Hang to dry indoors avoiding hangers; Dry garments on a flat surface instead
  • Flip the garment inside-out when drying to prevent stiffness

Neoprene is an all-star fabric that you probably haven't thought about sewing with too often however, it’s used for a wide array of purposes, and its properties make it an excellent choice for clothing and accessories. Neoprene offers a lot of great benefits and is relatively easy to launder once you get the hang of it. Ready to try sewing with neoprene? Try your hand at the Vanda dress free sewing pattern to get started.

What projects have you sewn using neoprene, and what tips and tricks did you learn/use? Drop your comments below. 

All About Neoprene Fabrics - Mood Sewciety
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