Knitwear is a popular clothing choice; however, not all fabrics are created equal in sewing. Knits are comfortable to wear, but they are also particularly stretchy due to their natural elasticity. This means that it tends to change shape when cut, sewn, and worn. To avoid unnecessary obstacles, use the helpful tips found in this post and the visual knits guide below to sew knits with confidence. Making a garment is much more fulfilling when it’s done well!
Sewing Machine Settings and Stitches
- A serger or overlocker is the easiest method when sewing with knits (if available).
- To sew knits with a home sewing machine: Select stitches that let the fabric stretch without popping. Use a straight stretch stitch with a 2.5-3mm stitch length or a zig-zag stitch. If your machine lacks a straight stretch, use a stitch length of 0.5.
- Reduce the presser foot pressure, if possible, to avoid stretching. If your machine doesn’t have this option, then lift the presser foot every couple of stitches to reduce stretching
Needles and Thread
- Ballpoint needles have a rounded point that slides between the fibers and will not snag the knit fabric.
- Twin needles create a seam consisting of two lines of stitches that stretch when worn. Twin needles are easy to use and offer a professional finish.
- Polyester thread is best for sewing with stretch fabric. It has a natural elasticity that works well with knit fabric, as cotton thread doesn’t have any stretch.
- Do not stretch or pull the fabric through the machine. The feed dogs will guide the fabric through freely without distorting the shape. Make sure that the fabric is lying flat as it reaches the feed dog and machine needle.
- Consider a walking foot when working with extra stretchy fabric, which feeds the bottom and the top layers of the fabric evenly through the machine without stretching it out.
- A long table is helpful when sewing with knits to ensure that the fabrics have a flat place to land without being stretched as they might if it is falling off to the side.
- Use tissue paper or an iron to avoid wobbly stitches. Attach tissue paper to fabric by sewing it to the fabric, then carefully remove it once the stitches are sewn securely. If stitches are wobbly after sewing, press with an iron to straighten them out.
- Add clear elastic to stabilize seams. It acts as a reinforcement to keep seams from drooping or losing their shape.
- Use fusible knit hemming tape on the raw edge of the fabric to avoid wavy stitches and to stabilize seams.
Best Selling Knits
Knit Pattern Picks
Comfortable and full of stretch, knit fabric is made to stretch with the wearer, so it’s a popular fashion choice. The weight and stretch found in knit fabrics varies, which means that the recommendations above will slightly vary, depending on the specific knit fabric and pattern being sewn. Using the recommendations from this post, sewing with knits is manageable and not nearly as daunting a task as it might seem.