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sewing knitwear, no zigzag stitch

HelgaPataki | Posted in General Sewing Info on

What are my options if I can’t zigzag when I sew knits? Does anybody have a favourite alternative? My sewing machine has met better days.  The sewing machines I am interested in are very sturdy and sew only straight stitches.   I know  straight stitching on knits works but the stitches don’t stretch and when you stretch the seam the stitches rip.  Am I confined to only handsewing although handsewing isn’t that much stretchier, its only looser unless you pull the stitches tight but then there will be puckering.  I’ve thought of varying types of embroidery stitches.  Currently I am interested in sewing longjohns, and applying the elastic at the waistband, but eventually I am sure i’d like to move on and advance. Any comments?  Please help… and thank you:)


  1. sewchris703 | | #1

    Use a double needle

    If your sewing machine needle threads front to back, see if it will take a double needle.  You will get two rows of straight stitches on the top of the seam and a slightly stretchy zigzag bobbin thread underneath.


    1. HelgaPataki | | #2

      can't zigzag - use twin needle

      Hey, thanks so much Chris!!!

      1. sewchris703 | | #5

        WRong advice

        Sorry, I gave you bad advice.  I reread your original post and just realized that you are using a straight stitch only machine.  A straight stitch machine won't take a double (aka twin) needle because the hole in the needle plate isn't wide enought.  It's only a small hole big enought for the needle to go through, not wide as it would be on a zigzag machine to allow the needle to swing from side to side.


  2. joy | | #3

    Sewing on knits

    I sewed on knits with only a straight-stitch machine long before I purchased a zig-zag machine, then a serger.  The trick is to use a medium stitch length and stretch the fabric in the front and in the back of the presser foot as you sew.  You can sew another seam on the seam allowance close to the raw edges to keep the seam allowances together if desired - be sure to use a ball point sewing machine needle.

    1. HelgaPataki | | #4

      machine sewing knits no zigzag

      Wow, thank you Joy!!  Everybody's really helpful.  I appreciate your reply.

    2. Lisas365 | | #6

      I agree with Helga. I use a longer straight stitch and stretch the fabric front and back slightly. I actually prefer this to a zigzag stitch. I don't really have the puckering problem that some people report because I don't stretch the fabric really taut. But I've found that I don't really need the zigzag and don't use it anymore. This just goes faster. Some people say they use stabilizer but I don't find that necessary either. Just make sure you have a flat surface. I use the Sew Steady table but you can make one. 

      1. HelgaPataki | | #7

        Bubbly effect

        I have another reason not to zigzag is because sometimes it causes a bubbly effect along the stitching line and I end up getting a thicker seam so that the outfit doesnt flow as much.

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