Many people are under the perception that you need a serger to create great knit wear. Well, that just is not so. Honestly, I do love my serger but there are times, when I do not want to change 4 cones of thread to make one garment or times when my serger is out of commission. Here are some simple tips that I use to get great results using my basic sewing machine. Don’t think you can’t sew knit because you totally can. Sewing knits is so much fun once you get the hang of it. It can be significantly more forgiving than woven fabric and there is a lot less seam finishing. I hope these 7 tips for machine sewing knits will help you love to sew knits, too.
- The first tip is your stitch setting. When sewing a seam on knits, the stitches need to have the ability to stretch with the fabric. Using a regular straight stitch will not allow this to happen. Use your machines to zig zag stitch setting. Even a very narrow zig zag will allow for the stretch you need. Try these settings: stitch width 1 stitch length 2. This will be very narrow but still provide stretch. Another setting I use is stitch width 1.5 and length 2.5
- A good needle. Honestly, I use universal needles when sewing knits on my sewing machine but I always make sure I have a fresh, sharp, one. I like to use the 70/10 universals for knits. Ball-point or knit needles do work very well and if you have them use them. But overall my best recommendation is a fresh needle.
- Select your knits fabrics wisely. Chose sturdy knits like interlock, Pointe de Roma(which is interlock, too), or medium to heavy weight jersey. Pique knits, also sew really well on a standard sewing machine. Light weight jersey can be challenging in the beginning due to its curling up at the edges. It can be hard to keep lined up and sometimes gets pushed into the throat plate.
- Pay attention to the amount of stretch required for a pattern. Some patterns will indicate the amount of stretch needed for a garment, especially if the garment is close fitting. Most commercial patterns will have a stretch guide on the pattern package.. I suggest starting out with a pattern that has a loser body fit. If you are sewing a very tight fitting garment like tights make sure that your knit has significant stretch and that it bounces back. Remember all knits have different amounts of stretch.
- Don’t forget about the grainline. Following the pattern layout guide is just as important for knits, as it is for woven fabric. If you do not cut your pattern pieces going in the correct direction of the fabric, you will not have the correct amount of stretch fabric in your garment and there is a good chance you garment will not fit or wear correctly.
- Twin or Double Needle for hems and necklines. Please see my previous post on double needles for all the details. Click Here! This step will make a huge improvement in your knit sewing. Remember when sewing with a twin to increase you stitch length to 4.
- Final tip. Good pressing. If you take time to carefully press seams open and accurately press hems, you finished garments will always turn out better.
Happy knit sewing!!