Do knits scare you?
Do you wish you could sew a shirt or sweater out of knit fabric but you don’t own a serger?
Do you have a pattern and fabric ready to go but do not know what to do next?
We’re going to look at how to sew knits without a serger.
Yes, you read that right–you do not need a serger to sew knits!
A serger is definitely helpful and makes projects go faster but sewing knits is completely do-able on your regular sewing machine. You just need to know a few tricks.
First, you need to have the right supplies. Some good quality polyester thread and a ball point or stretch needle are a must.
Machine Adjustments and Accessories
If your machine has a dial or knob to adjust the presser foot pressure, reduce the pressure to avoid stretching the knit fabric. Not all machines have this but it is very helpful. An alternative is to use either a knit foot or a walking foot. These help to move the fabric through without stretching it as well. Also remember not to stretch your fabric unless the pattern directs you to do so (as in attaching neckbands and cuffs, etc.). Stretching it as it sews will result in wavy seams. If at the end you do have a couple of waves in your seam or hem, give it a good steam with your iron and it should shrink back into place.
Next, we’ll take a look at some of the stitches to use on your knit project.
Some people like the stitch that looks like a lightning bolt or a narrow and longer zig-zag stitch. I don’t really like these especially on kids’ clothing or when you want to give it to someone who may not be very careful with it. I find the seams pop quite quickly if you use these, unless you are careful with the garment. They work in a pinch though. I’d recommend using the triple stretch stitch or the overlock stitch on your seams.* These give the greatest amount of stretch with the least amount of popped seams.
For the hems you can either use a twin needle (make sure it is also ball point or stretch) or I often use the triple stretch stitch as well. It takes a bit of practice to master the twin needle as different weight fabrics need different width twin needles to avoid ‘tunneling.’ You may also need to play with your tension to get it just right. The triple stretch stitch is a little less of a professional finish (less like ready-to-wear) but it looks tidier than the zig-zag, is stronger than either the zig-zag or a straight stitch, and is easier to master than the twin needle.
I do recommend holding the bobbin and needle thread taut as you start sewing with these stitches. It will prevent your sewing machine from ‘eating’ your fabric. Another trick is to not start right on the edge of your fabric but a little ways in.
Sewing knits on your sewing machine may seem difficult but once you know a few tricks and how your machine reacts to knits you are all set to sew yourself a shirt or a comfy pair of joggers.
*One word of caution with using the triple stretch and the overlock stitch is that they are more difficult to seam rip when you do make a mistake. Be sure to double-check that you are sewing it together correctly or be prepared for a lengthy date with your seam ripper!