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Top stitching knits?

AmyC | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Can anyone tell me the correct way to top-stitch on knit fabric? I am not sure whether to use a narrow zig-zag or a straight stitch.




  1. SewTruTerry | | #1

     I think it depends on what area of the garment that you are top stitching.  I mean if you are talking about around the neck line and there needs to be some stretch then you would want a very narrow zig zag the one that looks almost straight. Other wise if you are talking about the hem area that will not get a lot of stretching then the straight stitch.  Also use the straight stitch if you are needing to stabilize it like at the shoulder seams.

    1. Jean | | #2

      Use a double needle. Looks like top stitching but the bobbin needle does a zigzag to give a little stretch.

      1. Stalindsay | | #3

        I like the look of the double needle seam on knits except I almost always have a problem with skipped stitches. Any suggestions for what is wrong?


        1. Jean | | #4

          My first guess is that you need a new needle. Come to think of it, it's probably my last guess too. ;-)  I have found that some fabrics take less kindly to the double needle than others. You could interpret that as an 'I really don't know'. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

        2. FitnessNut | | #5

          Double-check that it is a stretch twin needle, not a sharp. That should help prevent the skipped stitches, although it will still happen when you need a new one.


        3. JudyWilliment | | #6

          I had that very problem today with a halternecked top.  Twin needling around the armhole/neckline went without a hitch, but the HEM almost had me insane!  I had skipped stitches, broken threads, loops on the underside - you name it, I had it.  I spent ages trying to tweak tensions on both the bobbin and the top threads, and eventually ruled that out as a problem.  Next I tried my old stand by  of placing strips of thin paper over the hem and stitching over it.  End of problem, perfect hem.  The problem was simply that when I was sewing with the grain, the fabric had less stretch, and was nice and stable.  When I was sewing across the grain for the hem, it was being pulled into the hole in the throat plate because it stretched as the needles hit it - the needles weren't penetrating the fabric properly, (possibly because it was printed?) and causing all kinds of problems.  The paper stabilizes the fabric, and totally solved the problem.  the only downside is that you have to carefully tear it out afterwards.


          1. SEWSERIOU1 | | #7

            Another way to do this is to use fusi-knit or something similar to stablize the hem area before topstitching.  Sometimes just using some spray starch will work also. 

        4. SewNancy | | #8

          If the knit is fusible, serge some knit interfacing on the bottom so that when you turn up the hem you can fuse it in place and then top stitch.  Or you can try tear away stabilizer.  The cross grain is very stretchy and that can create a problem in itself.  If that doesn't work try a new needle.  Also I have had problems with slinky and used sewers aid and that also helps.

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