Sewing with French Terry

Posted on March 16, 2021 by Stephanie Triplett

Are you looking for a knit fabric that’s perfect for any time of the year? French terry is generally lightweight and easy to work with, making it great for beginners. It’s smooth on one side and looped on the other, coming in different weights and compositions.  While it’s often used for loungewear and activewear (because of its highly absorbent nature), it's used for many other types of garments. The tips below will make sewing with french terry easy for practically any sewist.

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1. Selecting Fabric 

  • Pay attention to the weight, content, and width when purchasing to make sure that the content is worth the price tag
  • Look for echo-tex certification to rest assured that the fabric is free of harmful chemicals and are safe for human use
  • Order french terry samples from to test out which fabrics will work best 
  • Keep in mind: Cotton based french terry will hold its shape, while polyester and spandex blends tend to lose their elasticity over time 
  • Test two swatches of desired fabric; One to wash and one to compare and prewash if needed
  • Wash on cold/warm or gentle cycle with like fabrics and lay flat to dry or dry on low or no heat

2. Cutting 

3. Sewing

  • Test a scrap of french terry fabric to make sure that machine settings are appropriate for the fabric
  • Use a ballpoint or stretch or super stretch if your machine is having trouble) needle when sewing
  • Use a walking foot if needed 
  • Use overlocker on standard settings, lengthening the stitch length slightly or increasing the presser foot pressure 
  • It’s difficult to seam rip without damaging the fabric, so be extra mindful when stitching to avoid mistakes
  • Use a stretch stitch like a long zigzag stitch when sewing 
  • Let the feed dogs pull the fabric along 
  • A serger is an easy way to finish french terry fabric
  • Iron on medium to high heat testing out scrap pieces before beginning just to make sure the fabric won't get damaged

Pattern Suggestions

French terry provides the comfort and stretch we’re all looking for while also being extremely versatile. Which tip did you find most useful from above? Leave a comment below!

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