Tips and Tricks for Sewing with Knit Fabrics

Sewing with knits can be a bit tricky.   I know I've had frustrations over the years.  Like what if I don't have an overlock or coverstitch machine?  What needle should I use?  Can I use any stitch on my machine?  

Knit fabric, iron and needles

We've put together some great tips and tricks for sewing with knits.  Our hope is we are saving you a bit of a frustration and wasted time and energy.  Because sewing with knits can be SO fun and everyone loves wearing knit projects.

1.  Picking Your Fabric

The most important part of sewing with knits is picking the right fabric.  We've put together an entire post on Choosing Knit Fabrics.  Make sure you check it out so you know which fabrics to use for which type of project.

2.  Wash. Dry. Press!
A lot of people don't like wash their fabrics after purchase.  WASH YOUR KNITS!  Serious people.  Knits can shrink a TON!  You'll thank me later.  Wash and dry your knits.  (Unless your fabric bolt says to lay flat to dry.)

Knit shirt and iron

After you've sewn a seam, press it!!  Don't be to lazy to press, or iron, your project.  You will see I huge difference in how your fabric lays and your seams look.  Just DO IT!  

3.  What Machine to Use
I think one of the biggest hurdles people face when thinking about sewing with knits is that they don't have the right machine.  Bologna!!  You don't need an overlock or coverstitch machine to sew with knits.  You can use your regular old sewing machine.  In fact, that's all I use.  I don't even own a serger.  (Not because I don't want one, but because I always seem to need or want something else instead.)

4.  What Needles to Use
The best needles to use on knit fabrics are called stretch needles, or Jersey needles*.  The are designed to work with the loops on knit fabrics.  I also highly recommend grabbing yourself a double needle or twin needle*.  This gives the fabric a nice finished look on all your hems.  

Stretch needle and double needle

Check out the video below for a bit more advice on choosing needles.

5.  What Stitch to Use

Inside of knit tshirt
When sewing with knits it is super important to make sure you use a stitch that can stretch.  That typically means using a zig-zag or stretch stitch when using a single needle.  This allows for enough stretch and movement of the fabric from the wearer.

6.  What Sewing Foot to Use

Walking foot

Another way to make life a little easier is to invest in a walking for for your machine.  You don't have to have one, however, many sewists swear by their walking feet.  This foot helps move the fabric through the machine so it doesn't get caught in the feed dogs.  It isn't a requirement.  I typically use my regular foot.  Notice this foot says Bobbi.  I inherited it way after I started sewing with knits.  It is up to you but a walking foot may be a way for you to cut out some of the beginner frustrations of sewing with knits.

7. Practice, Practice, Practice
Start small!  Just like learning to sew, it takes time, energy and patience to sew with knits.  But the end result is beautiful, comfy, and so satisfying.  
Little girl in knit shirt
Bowmont Tee
There's no reason not to sew on knits.  Just take the leap and have fun trying out new fabrics and patterns.

*This post contains affiliate links to products I have used and highly recommend.  I do make a portion off any you may purchase.  But I wouldn't link to them if they weren't awesome!


Sleepyhead Nightgown GYCT Designs

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1 comment

  1. I'd like to sew the Sleepyhead nightgown for my 4 year old niece. I know she'd love at least one! duchick at mchsi dot com