How to Sew Neoprene

How to Sew Neoprene Fabric

TuffSew here, your heavy duty sewing machine manufacturer! So you want to learn how to sew neoprene fabric? 

Or maybe you just want to learn a little more about the spongy material. Whatever your reason, you’ve found the right article.

Neoprene is a type of synthetic rubber material which is normally sandwiched between polyester fabric.

It holds it’s shape very well under high and low temperatures. It’s also a flexible material, which is why many garment manufacturers are starting to use it.

Some of the neoprene sewing applications we see include laptop or tablet sleeves, mouse pads, wetsuits & other garments, beverage insulators, and more.

The most common question we hear at TuffSew is “Can my standard household sewing machine sew my neoprene fabric?” and/or “How many mm of fabric will my standard household sewing machine be able to sew?” All good questions.

Your standard home sewing machine will be able to sew up to 2-3mm of total neoprene thickness. For example, if you are making a neoprene swimsuit that is only 2mm thick…your home sewing machine should be able to handle the job. If you are looking for a new sewing machine for an application 3mm or under, check out our TuffSew Platinum.

Our TuffSew Platinum is a beefed up standard sewing machine because it’s internal gears are all metal, not plastic. Metal gears will not crack or break down nearly as quickly as plastic ones will.

If you are sewing neoprene materials which are more than 3mm thick, you’ll need a portable walking foot sewing machine.

This type of sewing machine has a motorized built in walking foot mechanism. Using a sewing machine with this type of mechanism is best because it pulls the fabric through the sewing process from the top.

In conjunction, the gripped style feed dogs in a walking foot sewing machine pull the fabric from the bottom of the material. This top/bottom pull action gives you an ultimate feeding capability when you are sewing neoprene or other heavier type materials. Here is an image of this type of machine:



4 tips when sewing neoprene:


#1 Straight Stitching works well with neoprene, but adjust the stitch length up a bit.


#2 If you need to abut or adjoin material, use a zigzag stitch (available on our Platinum model but not our Straight Stitch model)


#3 When sewing neoprene, always make sure and use a thick needle. If you plan on sewing more than 3mm thickness, use a needle size 22 on your walking foot heavy duty sewing machine. If you plan on sewing less than 3mm thickness and want to use a standard household sewing machine, use size 18 or 19 (standard household machines will not take a higher needle than 19).


#4 Give The Thread Exchange a call to learn more about which type of thread to use with your particular sewing machine.


If you do plan on sewing neoprene over 4mm in thickness, and want to learn more about how a portable industrial walking foot sewing machine can help you, see our YouTube videos below:


Video 1 – Differences with a standard sewing machine and a heavy duty machine 


Video 2: More differences…..


If you have any further questions regarding heavy duty sewing… email us at

The TuffSew Team

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