How to sew with knit fabric - Basic Rules

4th Mar 2022

Knit fabrics are perfect to deal with, especially, for beginners: they are easy to sew, cause next to no fitting problems and even allow some sewing mistakes, if you follow simple rules:

Use a stretch overlock stitch. This will keep the seam from ripping. A straight stitch is a bad choice: the thread will rip eventually.

Use either 4-thread overlock stitch or zigzag stitch on your sewing machine to join the garment pieces (the stitch length is 2.5-3mm [1/8”], the stitch width is 0.5-1mm [up to 1/16”]).⠀

To finish garment and sleeve hems, it’s preferable to use a coverstich machine. If you don’t have one, use a zigzag stitch, a twin needle stitch or a catch stitch.

On Milky Fabric YouTube channel we have a video tutorial on how to sew knits on a regular sewing machine.

Use Stretch, Supper Stretch, Jersey, or ballpoint needles when working with knits. These needles have a rounded tip and small hump that cause the thread to create a large loop, preventing skipped stiches., while a regular needle would tear the fibers, which may cause runs and holes along the seam.⠀

Another tip: if your sewing machine starts chewing up the fabric while working with thin, lightweight knits, put a sheet of sewing tracing paper under the layers of fabric. If the fabric is extremely thin, put one above the layers. Remove the tracing paper after stitching.⠀

When laying out the pattern pieces before cutting, be guided by the loops running lengthwise. In knit fabrics, they play the role of the grain. Make sure that you lay out all your pattern pieces in the same direction.⠀⠀

Do not use notches as it may result in snags. With knit fabrics we suggest using either fabric markers or tailor chalks. 

For seam stabilisation use fusible knit interfacing. Place the interfacing, adhesive side down, on the wrong side of the fabric. Use an iron on a warm setting and press one section for about 15 seconds. Use pressing instead of gliding motions. Lift and repeat until the whole piece of interfacing is fused in place. Once you finished leave fabric to rest for 15 minutes.