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Sewing Knit Fabric

fabricmaven | Posted in General Discussion on

Hello Everyone, I recently posted a query about finding a pattern for a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap like dress. Got some good suggestions. I did purchase Vogue 8379 plus some matte jersey fabric that is cotton and spandex. Other than using a ball point needle to sew knit is there any advice that can be offered about creating  a garment without creating ruffled seamlines. I have every Threads magazine from # 13 thru 141. Is there a particular issue that I can look up that gives definitive advice about working with knits. I have a Pfaff 1171 and a Babylock BL4-436 that I will be using to sew the garment. For the most part I have always avoided working with knits because I have never been happy with my results. Since I am now 62, I’m thinking that knits might be more forgiving to the body I live in if I use the correct technique to create the garment. Any advice will be much appreciated.


  1. junctioncats | | #1

    I'm hoping you get an answer to this from one of the experienced seamstresses here.

    I'm having difficulty with an extremely thin knit that I'm sewing into a Vneck shirt with narrow straps that are tied into rings at the shoulder. I'm having to put stabilizer between the layers to keep this fabric from tangling and just generally bunching up as it sews. I've put it aside for now, knowing that part of the problem is the weight of the knit, but any answers you get might help me too!

  2. Crazy K | | #2

    When I sew with knits.....and I do lots.........I use my serger for the seams......not just to clean up the edges........either trim 1/4" seam allowance or let the serger knife cut as you sew.  Play with some of your fabric running different directions........usually knits stretch more one way than the other........use the differential feed to keep your seams flat.  Thicker and more stable knits usually cause no problems but lighter weight and extra stretchy ones need a little more care to get nice flat seams.  Just use your scraps and play, adjusting your stitch length and differential feed until you get the desired results.  Don't be afraid........just DO IT!! ha ha

    If your knit is extra stretchy, you might want to you a 3-thread overlock stitch and woolly nylon in your loopers.  I normally use a regular 4-thread stitch for everything except swimwear.  A little practice and you'll be sailing along................



    1. MaryinColorado | | #5

      Excellent advice!  The only thing I can think of to add is sometimes adjusting the serger's stitch/cutting width helps too! 

      I'm playing with redesigning readymade Tshirts and embellishing them with embroidery and reverse applique and whatever else I can come up with.  I'm so glad to have the coverstitch as they are always way too long for me.  Now if I could just get the rolled hem neckline to my satisfaction I'll be singing!   Mary

  3. woodruff | | #3

    I sew a lot of knits, and I find that a lot depends on the machine you're using. My lovely old Bernina 930e thinks knits are the easiest thing in the world, but she's got a light touch and doesn't push or smoosh or ripple the knit fabric when seaming. I only use the serger to construct patterns I've already perfected, because a wider seam allowance is more forgiving when you're still trying to get the fit right.

    As to needles and knits, I generally find that a "stretch" needle gives more consistent stitches than a ballpoint, and reduces the chance of skipped stitches to about zero.

    On the sewing machine, I never use the so-called stretch stitches, because I find they tend to build too much thread into the seam, producing a wavy effect. Instead, I use the narrowest zigzag and a regular stitch length. This provides plenty of stretch without your having to do anything else. Most knits do not absolutely need to have the seam allowance finished, because raveling is quite rare with them. An "overcast" foot (has a special little bar on it) will produce a neat edge if overcasting is needed, though.

    Getting a great hem on knits can be difficult: The machine's foot will try to stretch or push the fabric as you go across the lengthwise grain, and as you know, this can produce a wavy effect. The best techniques for dealing with this are contained, I think, in Marcy Tilton's paperback book, "Easy Guide to Sewing Tops and T-Shirts." She shows you how to use a bit of fusible interfacing to lightly stabilize the hems before stitching, and she has lots and lots of other ideas that are just genius.

    On the Threads magazine website (clickable from the discussion forum here), there are a number of links to articles by Marcy, and several very useful videos regarding sewing with knits. You might especially want to look for a couple of superb videos by Sarah Veblen.

  4. starzoe | | #4

    I trust someone has already mentioned that when sewing with knits the most stretch always goes around the body. Really fine knits are more tricky to sew, other than that sewing with knits is not difficult.

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