Waffle fabric in recent years has become more popular - and it is easy to see why, it is such a beautiful fabric to sew with. Waffle fabric has a distinct texture, somewhat relating to the name "waffle" as it has a distinct pattern of little squares raised.
Is Waffle Fabric stretchy?
Well, the answer is yes and no. Waffle fabric can come in a combination of different fabric compositions. Each has its positives and negatives, and can lend itself to being more suited to particular sewing projects.
Types of Waffle Fabric
100% Cotton Waffle Fabric
Commonly seen on the market is a 100% cotton waffle composition. Waffle weave fabric that is manufactured with 100% cotton will have some natural give in the weave, especially in the bias, however, due to the lack of spandex, it is not very stretchy fabric. Due to its lack of stretch, this kind of waffle fabric is often used for non-garment items such as tea towels and blankets. Ooooh steal my heart with a waffle blanket that has a boho fringe on it!
Cotton & Spandex Waffle Fabric Blend
A Waffle fabric that is manufactured with cotton and spandex is commonly used for garment construction. A perfect marriage of fibre compositions, as cotton is soft and breathable, and spandex enables the fabric to stretch making it oh so comfortable to wear. At Melco, we stock a 95% cotton & 5% spandex waffle fabric that is great for a variety of projects such as jumpers, leggings, pajamas, cardigans, and lounge sets.
Polyester Blend Waffle Fabric
Now, I will start by saying I am a little bias when it comes to polyester blend fabrics. I have always lent towards fabrics that are manufactured with natural fibres, such as cotton or bamboo, as they are more comfortable to wear and they will also decompose naturally using microorganisms. I also find that polyester blend fabric develop pills more readily than its natural fibre counterparts. However, on the flip side, polyester fabrics are easily and cheaply available on the market and can be found in a waffle weave.
With more and more of the ready to wear clothing made from polyester, I personally feel its nice to sew something using natural fibres as its few and far between finding them in the fast fashion industry these days.
Do I need to wash waffle fabric before sewing?
The answer is a resounding YES from me. Washing fabric before sewing not only removes any dust and particles from the manufacturing process, but it also is an important step in pre-shrinking your fabric. Now I am sure I have you asking, why do I need to pre-shrink my fabric? Well, if you think of any ready to wear garment you have bought before, you wore it once, it looked fabulous. But then, after it was washed it became too small and unwearable, the reason for this is the fabric was not pre-shrunk. By pre-shrinking the fabric, and then cutting and sewing your project you are avoiding it shrinking in the future. This will result in a garment that will fit better and be worn for years to come.
Waffle fabric also will condense after its first wash, and feel slightly thicker and spongier. So in saying that, make sure you don't under estimate how much fabric you need for your project, as you don't want to end up short on fabric after pre-washing. I would never sew a project with waffle fabric without per-washing as well for this reason, so one likes a perfectly fitting garment they have made and it ending up too small after washing.
Do I need a fancy machine to sew waffle fabric?
No definitely not! Don't get me wrong, waffle fabric can take some getting used to if you're new to waffle fabrics or stretch fabrics in general. But sewing waffle fabric can be done on your regular sewing machine or overlocker.
Quick tips for sewing waffle fabric on your overlocker
If sewing on your overlocker, make sure to use some scrap fabric first and get those settings right. You may need to adjust your stitch length, pressure foot tension and differential feed. When you have these settings correct, the waffle fabric won't look "wavy" at the seams. Once you find those perfect settings don't forget to write them down so you can refer back to them in the future.
Quick tips for sewing waffle fabric on your sewing machine
A huge plus of waffle fabric is that it doesn't frey or 'curl' on the edges. This is certainly a plus and makes it easier to handle when sewing. set your machine to a basic zigzag stitch. This is the most popular stretch stitch and recommended for beginner sewers, in addition is offered on virtually every modern sewing machine. Other stitches that are good for stretchy fabric include the lightning bolt and three step zigzag. Test out on some scrap fabric which is going to work best for your project.
A walking foot on your sewing machine when sewing with rib knit fabrics will help to evenly feed the fabric through the feed dogs, thus preventing it from stretching out as you sew.
Do I need a special sewing needle in my machine?
Using a fresh sewing needle is always important when starting a new sewing project. Rule of thumb is you should change the needle every 8 hours of sewing. Now I am sure you are wondering, "is that REALLY necessary?" Well, yes! Changing the needle every 8 hours or so really does make a big difference. A blunt needle will cause skip stitches, seam puckering, damaged fabric, popping or loud clunky sewing and thread breakages... doesn't sound like a load of fun now does it! In short, make sure you have a new sewing needle in your machine and it is suited to sewing with stretch fabrics. I suggest a Schmetz Super Stretch needle, it can be used in both sewing machines and overlockers so a good one to have in your sewing kit for stretch projects. If you are after more information on sewing needles, check out this blog post.
What kind of things should I make with Melco Waffle?
One of my favorite things to make with waffle at the moment is pajamas for my daughter. I have made a few sets now, in Lavender and Rose using patterns from Lowland kids. I particularly like the PJ pants and Raglan PJ top. For my pjs sets I used the waffle fabric for the main body, and then rib knit to match. Rose waffle goes really well with Blush rib knit, and Lavender waffle goes really well with Amethyst rib knit. A few others that go really well together are: Chocolate waffle with Teddy tib knit, Snow waffle and Cloud rib knit. But even using a differnet colour irb with the waffle can look lovely as well like Azure and Skye Rib. You can use the waffle for neckbands and cuffs, however the stretch and recovery is not as good as using a rib knit. So for this reason I do tend to use rib knit when possible.
I hope this has answered a few questions you may have had on waffle fabric. If there is anything else you are wondering about please leave a comment below.
Waffle is such a lovely fabric to sew, I am sure that if you add some to your fabric stash you wont regret it. Happy sewing!