Lurex

By | May 7, 2016
Knit lurex fabric.

Knit lurex fabric.

Lurex is a brand name for a type of metallic-coated plastic yarn that’s become synonymous with the fabric it’s made into. It’s a shiny, stretchy knit which just screams evening-wear and other fabulous uses.

Lurex was really popular in the sixties, seventies and eighties – especially for slinky cocktail dresses. Go to Etsy and type in “lurex dress”

Fabulous, no? If you browsing vintage clothing catalogs, you’ll see it used for hosiery and dancewear too, but it’s since been replaced by alternative yarns that can recover better from being stretched a lot over time.

A vintage dress with lurex yarns in the fabric. Source: Etsy seller Moxie2RunwayVintage

A vintage dress with lurex yarns in the fabric. Source: Etsy seller Moxie2RunwayVintage

 

Julie Newmar’s Catwoman suit in the 1960s Batman series was black lurex. In fact, you’ll find it all over sci-fi productions of that period because it was shiny and stretchy and therefore perfect for wrapping up the babe of the week. It’s also hot, itchy and – in the worst cases – a bit smelly. I wouldn’t want to wear it directly next to my skin – if at all possible have a slip or body-stocking under it.

Lurex knit dress. Source: Etsy seller semipreciousgarnetts

Lurex knit dress. Source: Etsy seller semipreciousgarnetts

It’s also a pain in the ass to sew. It has all the inconvenience of jersey AND the added inconvenience of being largely made from plastic, which your sewing machine will not like. You want a sharp needle for piercing the plastic threads, but a ballpoint needle because it’s a stretchy knit. You can see the problem right there, can’t you? I say use a sharp needle and take your chances. If your machine is skipping stitches or the thread breaks, switch to a ball-point needle and hope that works.

If possible, use a straight stitch foot and throat plate on your sewing machine, to reduce the chance of yarns being pulled down into your machine as you sew.

It’s definitely one of those fabrics that makes me call on a friend with a serger, since sergers can take a lot of the pain out of a knit. I actually abandoned a project because I bought lurex without realizing how difficult it is to sew. Very disappointing. Visit YouTube for some how-to videos and practice on scraps before you commit to anything irreversible.

Fabric with lurex yarn. Source: eBay

Fabric with lurex yarn. Source: eBay

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