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slinky knits

bobbysox | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

I would love to try sewing a crushproof slinky knit outfit, but after having to alter a jacket from that fabric for a friend, I’m not sure I’m up to sewing a complete outfit. 

I don’t have a serger.  My New Home Mem Craft 6000 has been more than adequate for about anything I’ve ever tried, but I couldn’t keep the stretchy knit from rippling while sewing it.  I reduced the presser foot pressure, used a fine ballpoint needle, played around with both upper & bobbin tension, various stitches, and nothing helped.  I finally re-set those jacket sleeves BY HAND.   Must one handbaste?  Or always use staytape?  -HELP-


  1. Josefly | | #1

    I've also been afraid to try the slinky knits without a serger, only a zig-zag, and an old one at that. Will a zig-zag stitch allow the knits to stretch at necklines, etc? I have the same worry with crinkled gauze - how does one sew across the "crinkles" without stretching them out?

    1. user-60627 | | #2

      In reply to both posts,  you don't need a serger to sew slinky.  Its a knit, it doesn't ravel.  And adding all that extra serger thread to the seams just weighs it down and makes it stretch out.  And it won't have that beautiful fluidity that people love about slinky. The only trick to slinky is cutting it out.   You must support it on both the lengthwise and crosswise grain, or your grain will be out of true.  And you really shouldn't cut slinky on the double, only on the single.  Its very easy to get your grain out of whack cutting on the double  (actually, you should really never cut anything on the double, but that rant is for another day)

      You need at least a ball-point (knit) needle, although there are needles that are more specifically for slinky (I think they are labelled 'stretch' or something).  Stitch a small zig-zag (on my machine its 2.5L, 1.0W).  Use the smallest seam width you can get away with (I usually use 1/4" or so).  Because slinky is more stretchy on the cross grain, be carefuly when sewing hems, waists, necklines that the weight of the fabric doesn't pull it and stretch it out.  You can ease it under the feeddogs, supporting it with your hands and fingers.

      And, you don't put zippers in slinky.  Ever. 

      Let me know if I can answer anything else on this stuff.



      1. Josefly | | #3

        Wow! Thank you for all that info. It sounds do-able after all. Joan

      2. bobbysox | | #4

        Do you pin or baste the seams?  On the altering job I did for my friend, the straight seams weren't the biggest problem - it was setting in the sleeves.  The pieces just wouldn't stay in place when I tried sewing by machine - even tried basting first, and the top layer just slid past the bottom and bunched up with the next basting stitch.  Ditto with pins. 

        1. NancySews | | #5

          Regarding sewing with Slinky Knit.  Visit Christine Jonson's site for all things Slinky Knit.  90% of her patterns are for this fabric and her site offers a tip booklet that's excellent as well as Threads issues with tips, hints and her various patterns.

          Her site address is http://www.CJPatterns.com   If you want to learn to sew with Slinky Knit and with a professional look go to the expert.  She removed the fear of this fabric for me.  Nancy




          1. bobbysox | | #8

            Thanks to all of you for your tips.  What a great resource this forum is! 

            I feel much better about tackling a project now.  (But I think I'll just get a small piece for starters and experiment.  Couldn't do that for very long on my friend's garment - and just about tore my hair out.)

          2. sewwot | | #9

            I have been working with stretch fabrics for thirty years and I always have nice flat seams that don't wave if while I'm sewing if I put 2 or 3 fingers on my left hand behind the presser foot and as the fabric goes through I force it to pile up behind, letting it go every few inches. This stops the feedogs from pulling the fabric while stitching.

        2. user-60627 | | #7

          I do pin slinky (you have to have good sharp pins, its pretty dense stuff) and I don't recall ever having a problem like you describe.   I wonder if the sleeve cap was just too big for the armseye, or perhaps it was just a combination of several factors: pressure, foot, stitch length/width (were you using a zig-zag or a straight stitch or a "stretch" stitch?).  I have used various implements (chopsticks, small rulers) to hold things in place as I'm stitching, if I can't use lots of pins!  Or, I would have tried sewing with the loose part on the feed dogs, let them ease/hold the larger side to the shorter/smaller side.  As the other poster said, you should check out Christine Jonson's site, she deals a lot with various knits. 

    2. AndreaSews | | #10

      Regarding the crinkle gauze, Josefly, your hunch was a good one--crinkle gauze can be problematic.  The presserfoot flattens out the crinkles as it goes along, causing the fabric to GROW across the grain.  Any handling at all (pressing, laying out to pin/cut....) I have found, does the same.  To remedy any stretching (not a true stretch, but a relaxing of the crinkles), spray the cloth with water and lie flat on a smooth surface to dry.  To prevent relaxing (of the fabric, that is, although the sewer might not be able to relax until through with the project), I found it necessary to sandwich the fabric, top and bottom, with tissue paper.  After sewing up the seams, you can sit for another hour or so gently tearing away the tissue paper, avoiding undue stress to the stitches.  This is only an issue on horizontal or curved seams.  Lengthwise seams are no trouble at all.  I think if I ever buy this again, I'll use it to make a scarf valence for a window, or _possibly_ a long skirt with elastic waistband, although there's still the hem to contend with. 

      1. Josefly | | #11

        Hmmmmn...a little more tension in sewing, that's what we're all looking for, right?Thanks for the recommendations. It seems setting in sleeves, or sewing a waistband or contrasting neck band, etc., would be very tedioius and time-consuming if using crinkle-gauze, so pattern selection is important. I guess I'm not likely to try this fabric. It looks so cool and comfortable, though. Maybe it's just for peasant blouses and gathered skirts, with, as you suggest, elastic.

        1. User avater
          Becky-book | | #12

          Yes, it makes lovely peasant blouses and skirts and is very comfortable!  When I make a peasant blouse out of it I just let it stretch out and then wash and dry the crinkles back in!


  2. mem | | #6

    I would nt do it either You really need differential feed or you will end up with wavy seams and thread constantly breaking.

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