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Knits on a Non-stretch Stitch Machine?

aultfan | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Is it possible to sew knits on a nonstretch stitch machine with good results? If so, how?  Right now I can’t afford to replace my old machine, but love the knit patterns I see. Thanks for any help.


  1. jjgg | | #1

    Yes, you certainly can. Use a small zig zag stitch.Do some test runs with different setting of the zigzag. Also, try using wooly nylon in the bobbin. hand wind the bobbin so the wooly nylon is not stretched tight.

    1. sewelegant | | #2

      When I read aultfan's message I was under the impression she does not even have the zig zag.  See, I can remember those machines!  In the late 60's and 70's when knits became the main fabric for everyday use and complete stores were dedicated to knits only, most sewers did not have stretch stitches on their machines, that came later.  The zig zag was the stitch of choice.  Now if you only have a straight stich machine I wonder if using the invisible thread to sew would help since that has a stretch built into it?  I would try it.

  2. starzoe | | #3

    If you do not have a zigzag, it is possible to sew knits. I sewed t-shirts for my sons when the knits became popular and I had a straight stitch portable Singer machine. Sometimes if a stitch or two popped I had to resew a seam but believe it or not, it didn't happen that often.I still sew knits without using zigzag. I choose knits that have some body and not a lot of lycra and have no problem.

  3. ottonpantherbaby | | #4


    It was not  a good idea, how can it be destroyed.




    Terry Schock

  4. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #5

    Yes you can, easily.
    Use polyester thread, not cotton or cotton wrapped, it has more stretch.
    Use a slightly longer stitch length, and a ball point needle.
    Stitch your seam along your seam line gently stretching the fabric a bit as you stitch. Stitch again, the same way, 1/4 inch away in the seam allowance.
    The parallel lines of stitching will both have some give and will be secure and flexible. The thing to remember is to stretch the fabric gently, too much and you will distort the garment. You need to test the stitch lengths on a scrap to see what works best for each type of knit, but it is well worth the effort. Hope this helps. Cathy

  5. Tatsy | | #6

    Lengthen the stitch, and/or reduce the tension. Sew more slowly so the fabric has time to adjust itself. Use a ball point or universal needle. Unless you're sewing a superstretchy fabric it should be a piece of cake.

  6. User avater
    susannah_sews | | #7


    I agree with the suggestions above.  My mother discovered stretch fabrics in the late 1970s, with a sewing machine that only had straight and zig-zag stitch.  She used a zig-zag with a stitch width just a fraction off straight, so it had just a bit of give.  She also stretched the fabric slightly as she fed it through, and occasionally used tape to reinforce seams that she didn't want stretching (usually shoulder seams on t-shirts).  She would then zig-zag the seam allowances, then trim close to the zig-zag finishing.  She made many (very many!!) t shirts etc for assorted children, grandchildren, sons-in-law etc over a twenty year period before deteriorating eyesight and arthritis slowed down her output.  A number of the items are still very much in use.

    Good luck.

  7. sewslow67 | | #8

    Taunton Press publishes a book called "Sewing with Knits" by Long, and it is very good, and has all the information you'd ever want to know about sewing with knits.  If you plan to sew a lot of knit fabrics, I'd strongly recommend it.  It would be handy, along with everyone else's helpful comments.

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