Six Tips for Sewing with Knit Fabrics
Find success sewing with knits using six of Nancy Zieman’s favorite sewing tips. Follow the simple less is best principles and you’ll find knit garments are quite fun and approachable for most sewing skill levels. Here are a few tips that might help you with your next (or first) knit sewing project.
Six Easy Knit Sewing Tips
Tip #1: Choose an easy pattern
- Look for styles and shapes with few seams, letting the drape of the fabric be the star.
Tip #2: Sew simple
- If you’re a serger owner, here’s where a 4-thread overlock stitch should be used. It’s fast, easy, and the seam will stretch.
- When using a conventional sewing machine, try a “wobble stitch.” First coined by Betty Cotton of quilting fame, this narrow zigzag (.5 width and 2.5 length) has an ever-so-slight zigzag, providing a little stretch in the seam while looking like a straight seam from the right side.
Tip #3: Sew in some stretch
- Stabilize the shoulders of knit fabrics with clear elastic. Serge or wobble stitch over the seam, stitching over the elastic. The shoulder seams will stretch when needed without stretching out of shape or popping stitches. This tip works on shoulder seams of any length.
Tip #4: Serge off the hem
- If you’re looking at a knit pattern with a shaped hem, make it easy on yourself; let your serger do the work. Use a 3-thread overlock stitch and serge along the hemline.
- To keep the knit from stretching, serge over precut strips of wash-away stabilizer. Place the strips on the wrong side of the fabric and then serge. After serging, tear away the excess stabilizer. Presto, no stretching. (The stabilizer is what you see, under the stitches, on the wrong side of the fabric in the photos below.)
- Serge each edge individually, don’t try to turn the corner. Tuck the thread tail to the wrong side and hand stitch the thread tail to the seam. Clip off the excess thread. It’s fast!
Tip #5: Double fold the edges
- With knits, very few patterns have facings to finish the edges, one layer of fabric is all that’s used. Consider finishing the edges with a double fold.
- Fold and press under 1/4-inch and straight or wobble stitch. Stitch one edge (center front seam in this example) and then the hemline. Before stitching the hemline’s double fold, place a scrap of fabric under the presser foot, stitch from the scrap (or anchor cloth) to the fabric. This anchor allows you to easily sew the thick area at the corner with even stitches.
- Clip off the anchor cloth when finished.
Tip #6: Hem with fusible tape
- Press Pellon Lite EZ-Steam II—a 1/2″ wide paper-backed fusible web—along the wrong side of the hem’s outer edges.
- Remove the paper backing; then press the hem to the wrong side–at the edge of the tape. The fusible webbing provides extra stability and shaping.
Give these tips a try!
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