Sewing with knits can be a bit intimidating for beginners, but with the right techniques, you can create professional-looking garments that are not only comfortable, but also stylish. One of the most important aspects of sewing with knits is learning how to sew knit seams. Unlike sewing woven fabrics, knitting seams require different stitches and handling to ensure the fabric stretches and doesn’t create any unsightly puckering or stretching. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of sewing knit seams like a pro.
First, it’s important to choose the right needle and thread for your knit fabric. A ballpoint needle is recommended for sewing knits, as it gently pushes the stitches apart, rather than piercing through the fibers. A stretch needle is another option, especially if you are working with a particularly stretchy knit. As for thread, it is best to use polyester or nylon thread, as they have some stretch and are less likely to break under stress.
When it comes to sewing knit seams, there are a few techniques you can use. The most common method is the zigzag stitch, which allows the fabric to stretch without the thread breaking. Set your sewing machine to a zigzag stitch with a medium stitch length and width. Place the fabric under the needle, keeping the edge of the fabric aligned with the edge of the presser foot. Sew along the edge, making sure to stretch the fabric slightly as you go to prevent any puckering or stretching.
If you want a more professional look, you can also use a double needle. A double needle creates two parallel rows of stitching on the right side of the fabric, while the wrong side remains smooth. To use a double needle, thread both needles with separate threads and set your machine to a straight stitch. Sew along the seam, making sure to guide the fabric evenly between the needles. The result is a neat and professional-looking seam.
Benefits of Sewing Knit Seams
Sewing knit seams can provide several benefits, making it a valuable skill to learn for any sewing enthusiast. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced sewer, here are the key benefits of sewing knit seams:
- Stretch and Flexibility: Knit fabrics are known for their stretchy and flexible nature. By sewing knit seams, you can ensure that the seams retain their elasticity and do not restrict movement. This makes knit garments more comfortable to wear and allows for greater freedom of movement.
- Durability: Sewing knit seams properly can increase the durability of the finished garment. Knit fabrics tend to be more prone to fraying and unraveling, but by using appropriate stitching techniques and securing the seams effectively, you can prevent these issues and ensure that the garment lasts longer.
- Professional Finish: Sewing knit seams with precision can give your garments a professional and polished look. Neatly sewn seams enhance the overall appearance of the garment, making it look well-made and refined.
- Versatility: Knit fabrics come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and patterns, making them versatile for different types of garments. By mastering the skill of sewing knit seams, you can open up countless possibilities for creating various clothing items, including t-shirts, dresses, skirts, and more.
- Personalized Fit: Sewing knit seams allows you to tailor the garment to your own measurements, ensuring a personalized fit. With the ability to make adjustments to the seams, you can achieve the perfect fit that flatters your body shape and size.
- Cost-Effective: Sewing your own knit garments can save you money in the long run. Instead of purchasing expensive ready-to-wear knit clothing, you can buy affordable knit fabric and transform it into stylish garments with your sewing skills. This way, you can have a wardrobe full of unique pieces without breaking the bank.
By understanding and mastering the art of sewing knit seams, you can enjoy these benefits and create beautiful, comfortable, and durable garments that reflect your personal style.
Common Challenges in Sewing Knit Seams
Sewing knit seams can be a bit challenging due to the stretchiness and delicate nature of knitted fabrics. Here are some common challenges you may face when sewing knit seams:
- Puckering: One of the most common challenges is dealing with puckering along the seam line. This happens when the fabric stretches unevenly during sewing, resulting in a bumpy or wrinkled appearance. To prevent puckering, it’s important to use the appropriate tension on your sewing machine and avoid pulling or stretching the fabric too much.
- Stretching: Knit fabrics have a tendency to stretch while sewing, which can result in uneven seams or distorted garments. To avoid this, use pins or clips to secure the fabric in place before sewing. You can also try using a walking foot or a stretch needle to help control the fabric and prevent excessive stretching.
- Tunneling: Tunneling occurs when the fabric gets pushed or pulled into the seam, creating a raised ridge on the right side of the fabric. This can happen if the tension is too high or if the fabric is not properly supported while sewing. To prevent tunneling, try using a stabilizer or a layer of tissue paper under the fabric, and adjust the tension settings on your sewing machine as needed.
- Seam rolling: Knit fabrics can be prone to seam rolling, where the seam flips to one side after sewing. This can be frustrating, as it can affect the overall appearance and fit of the garment. To prevent seam rolling, use a suitable stitch for knits, such as a stretch stitch or a zigzag stitch, and consider reinforcing the seam with a row of straight stitching.
- Skipping stitches: Skipping stitches can occur when sewing knits, especially if the fabric is too thick or the needle is dull. This can result in weak seams and compromised durability. To prevent skipping stitches, use a ballpoint or stretch needle, ensure the needle is sharp, and adjust the stitch length and tension settings on your machine.
These are just a few of the common challenges you may encounter when sewing knit seams. Remember, practice and patience are key to mastering the techniques needed to sew knit fabrics successfully. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings and techniques to find what works best for you!
Choosing the Right Needle and Thread
When it comes to sewing knit seams, one of the most important factors to consider is choosing the right needle and thread. Using the correct needle and thread combination will ensure that your seams are strong, durable, and look professional.
When sewing knits, it is best to use a ballpoint needle or a stretch needle. These types of needles have a rounded tip that slides between the knit fibers without piercing or damaging them. This helps prevent runs or snags in the fabric and ensures smooth stitching.
Ballpoint needles are suitable for most knit fabrics, while stretch needles are specifically designed for highly stretchable fabrics such as spandex or Lycra. They have a more pronounced rounded tip and a deeper scarf (the indentation above the eye of the needle) to prevent skipped stitches on stretchy fabrics.
For sewing knit seams, it is recommended to use an all-purpose polyester thread or a thread specifically designed for knits. These threads have a slight stretch to them, which allows them to move with the fabric without breaking. Additionally, polyester threads are strong, durable, and resistant to shrinking or fading.
When selecting the color of your thread, choose a shade that matches or closely resembles the color of your knit fabric. This will make your seams less visible and blend in seamlessly.
It is also important to check the tension on your sewing machine before sewing knit seams. Knits can be more prone to puckering or stretching if the tension is too tight. Adjust the tension as needed to achieve balanced stitches without pulling or distorting the fabric.
Remember, using the right needle and thread for your knit fabric will result in professional-looking seams that are strong and durable. Take the time to choose the appropriate tools for your project to ensure the best sewing results.
Types of Needles for Knit Fabrics
When sewing with knit fabrics, it is important to use the right kind of needle to ensure a professional and successful outcome. Using the correct needle can prevent snags, pulled stitches, and damage to the fabric. There are several types of needles that are suitable for sewing knit fabrics. Let’s take a look at the most common ones:
The ballpoint needle is the most commonly used needle for sewing knit fabrics. It has a rounded tip that slides between the knit fibers without breaking or pulling them. This type of needle is perfect for sewing on most knit fabrics, including jersey, interlock, and rib knits.
Stretch needles are specifically designed for highly elastic and stretchy fabrics, such as spandex and Lycra. They have a deeper scarf (the groove above the eye of the needle) and a longer point, allowing them to penetrate the fabric without causing runs or skipped stitches.
A twin needle consists of two needles mounted on a single shank. It creates two parallel rows of stitches on the top side of the fabric and a zigzag stitch on the underside. This needle is commonly used for hemming knit fabrics and creating decorative stitching.
Jersey needles, also known as ballpoint jersey needles, are similar to ballpoint needles but have a slightly longer and more rounded point. They are specifically designed for sewing lightweight, delicate knit fabrics, such as cotton jersey and rayon jersey.
Microtex needles, also known as sharp needles, are not specifically made for knit fabrics but can be used for sewing fine and tightly knitted fabrics. They have a sharp point that allows them to pierce through the fabric without damaging it. Microtex needles are great for sewing knit fabrics with dense, firm knits, such as ponte knits.
Remember that choosing the right needle for your project is crucial for achieving professional results. Always test out different needle types and sizes on a scrap piece of fabric before starting your project, as different knit fabrics may require different needle sizes. Happy sewing!
Choosing the Right Thread for Knit Seams
When it comes to sewing knit seams, choosing the right thread is important to ensure a strong and durable seam that won’t break or stretch. Here are some tips to help you select the right thread for your knit projects:
- Use polyester thread: Polyester thread is known for its strength, durability, and elasticity, making it an ideal choice for sewing knit seams. It can withstand the tension and stretching that often occurs with knit fabrics. Avoid using cotton thread as it is weaker and may break under stress.
- Choose the right weight: Thread weight refers to the thickness or fineness of the thread. For knit fabrics, it’s best to use a medium weight thread (typically labeled as 50 or 40 weight). This weight strikes a good balance between strength and bulkiness, allowing your seams to be both secure and inconspicuous.
- Match the color: Select a thread color that closely matches the color of your fabric. This will help blend the seams and make them less visible. If an exact match isn’t available, choose a slightly darker shade rather than a lighter one.
- Consider stretch thread: If you’re working with highly stretchy or elastic knits, you may want to consider using a stretch thread. Stretch thread has more elasticity than regular polyester thread and helps to maintain the stretchiness of the fabric. This can be particularly useful for sewing seams in activewear or swimwear.
- Test your thread: Before sewing your actual project, it’s a good idea to test your chosen thread on a scrap piece of the same fabric. This will allow you to check the thread’s strength, stretchiness, and compatibility with the fabric before committing to your final seams.
By selecting the right thread for your knit seams, you can ensure that your sewing projects will withstand the test of time and retain their shape and functionality. Take your time to choose the appropriate thread and experiment with different options to find the one that works best for your specific knit fabrics.
Preparing Your Sewing Machine
Before you start sewing knit seams, it’s important to prepare your sewing machine to ensure optimal stitching. Follow these steps to get your machine ready:
- Clean and oil your machine: It’s essential to keep your sewing machine clean and oiled for smooth operation. Consult your sewing machine’s manual for specific instructions on cleaning and oiling.
- Select the appropriate needle: When sewing with knits, it’s best to use a ballpoint or stretch needle. These needles have a slightly rounded tip that glides through the knit fabric without breaking or snagging the threads.
- Choose the right thread: Opt for a polyester or cotton-wrapped polyester thread when sewing knits. These threads are strong and have a slight stretch, which is ideal for knitted fabrics.
- Adjust the machine’s tension: Knit fabrics require a slightly looser tension than woven fabrics. Test your stitch on a scrap piece of knit fabric and adjust the tension accordingly. Aim for a stitch that lays flat and doesn’t pucker or stretch the fabric.
- Set up your machine for a stretch stitch: Many modern sewing machines have specific stretch stitches designed for sewing knits. Consult your machine’s manual to learn how to select and adjust the stretch stitch.
- Install a walking foot (optional): If you have a walking foot attachment, it can help feed the knit fabric evenly through the machine, preventing stretching or distortion. Attach the walking foot according to your machine’s instructions.
Once you’ve completed these steps, your sewing machine will be ready to sew knit seams like a pro. Remember to always test your stitch on a scrap piece of fabric before sewing your actual project to ensure the settings are correct.
Setting Up the Correct Tension
One of the most important factors in sewing knit seams is setting up the correct tension on your sewing machine. Tension refers to the amount of resistance or tightness applied to the thread as it passes through the machine.
When working with knits, you want to use a slightly looser tension compared to woven fabrics. This allows the knit fabric to stretch and move freely without causing any puckering or distortion in the seams.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you set up the correct tension for sewing knit seams:
- Prepare your sewing machine: Make sure your sewing machine is clean and in good working condition. Thread the machine with a good quality polyester or nylon thread that is suitable for knits.
- Adjust the tension settings: Refer to your sewing machine manual to locate the tension settings. Usually, there is a dial or knob that allows you to adjust the tension. Start by setting the tension to a lower number, around 3 or 4, and test on a scrap piece of knit fabric. Adjust the tension gradually until you achieve a balanced stitch, where the top and bottom threads are evenly tensioned.
- Test the stitch: Sew a few test seams on scrap knit fabric using different stitch lengths and tensions. Examine the stitches to ensure they are even, with no puckering or stretching of the fabric.
- Make adjustments as needed: If you notice any issues with the stitch quality, such as loose or tight stitches, make further adjustments to the tension settings accordingly. Keep testing and adjusting until you achieve the desired result.
Remember, every sewing machine is different, so it’s important to experiment and find the perfect tension setting for your specific machine and fabric combination.
By setting up the correct tension, you can sew knit seams like a pro, with smooth and professional-looking results. Take the time to properly adjust your tension, and you’ll be on your way to creating beautiful knit garments and projects!
Adjusting Stitch Length and Width
When sewing knit seams, it’s important to adjust the stitch length and width on your sewing machine to ensure a strong and secure seam. The stitch length refers to the distance between each stitch, while the stitch width refers to the width of the stitch itself.
Here are some tips for adjusting the stitch length and width:
- Stitch Length: A shorter stitch length is ideal for sewing knit seams, as it provides more stability and prevents the seam from stretching out. Set your stitch length to around 2-2.5mm for best results.
- Stitch Width: When sewing knit seams, it’s best to use a straight stitch with a narrow or medium width. This helps to prevent the fabric from getting caught in the machine and allows for stretchiness in the seam. Adjust the stitch width to around 2-2.5mm.
Remember to always test your stitch length and width on a scrap piece of fabric before sewing your actual seam. This will allow you to make any necessary adjustments and ensure that your stitches are the right length and width for your specific knit fabric.
Once you have adjusted the stitch length and width on your sewing machine, you can confidently sew your knit seams, knowing that they will be strong and secure.
Pinning and Cutting Knit Seams
When sewing knit seams, it is important to properly pin and cut the fabric to ensure accurate and neat results. Follow these steps to pin and cut your knit seams like a pro:
- Prepare your fabric: Before pinning and cutting, make sure your knit fabric is properly washed and ironed. This will remove any wrinkles or creases that can affect the accuracy of your seams.
- Place the fabric right sides together: Lay your knit fabric on a flat surface with the right sides facing each other. Make sure that the edges you need to join are aligned. This can be easily done by matching the selvedges of the fabric.
- Pin the fabric: Start by placing a few pins along the edge of the fabric to hold it in place. Avoid using too many pins as they can distort the fabric or cause it to stretch. Place the pins perpendicular to the edge and insert them through both layers of fabric.
- Align the edges: Once you have a few pins in place, check that the edges are still aligned. If necessary, adjust the fabric to ensure a straight and even seam. Use your hands to smooth out any wrinkles or bumps.
- Pin the rest of the fabric: After aligning the edges, continue pinning the rest of the fabric together. Pin at regular intervals, about every inch or so, to secure the layers. Keep the pins perpendicular to the edge and avoid stretching the fabric as you pin.
- Cut the fabric: Once your fabric is securely pinned, you can trim any excess fabric along the seam allowance. Use sharp fabric scissors to cut close to the pins, leaving a small seam allowance. Take care not to cut through the pins.
By following these steps, you’ll be able to pin and cut your knit seams accurately and neatly, resulting in professional-looking finished projects. Remember to take your time and handle the fabric gently to prevent any stretching or distortion.
Pinning Techniques for Knit Fabrics
Pinning knit fabrics can be a bit tricky due to their stretchy nature. However, with the right techniques, you can achieve professional-looking seams. Here are some pinning techniques to help you sew knit fabrics like a pro:
- Use ballpoint pins: When pinning knit fabrics, it’s best to use ballpoint pins. Ballpoint pins have a rounded tip that slides between the knit stitches rather than piercing them, reducing the chance of snags or runs.
- Pin parallel to the seamline: Instead of pinning perpendicular to the seamline, try pinning parallel to it. This allows the pins to hold the fabric securely in place while still allowing the fabric to stretch as needed.
- Use as few pins as possible: Knit fabrics tend to shift and stretch easily, so using too many pins can restrict the fabric’s movement. Instead, try using only a few pins strategically placed at key points along the seamline.
- Pin at right angles to the seamline at curves and corners: When dealing with curves or corners in your knit fabric, it’s important to pin at right angles to the seamline. This helps to hold the fabric in place and ensures that the seam allowances lay smoothly.
- Consider using clips or fabric weights: In addition to pins, you may find it helpful to use sewing clips or fabric weights to hold your knit fabrics in place. Clips are especially useful for securing fabric layers that may shift easily, such as when attaching bands or binding.
- Test pin placement: Before sewing your seam, it’s a good idea to test pin placement on a scrap piece of your fabric. This allows you to make any necessary adjustments and ensure that the fabric is held securely without distorting the seam.
Using these pinning techniques will help you achieve smooth, professional-looking seams on your knit fabrics. Remember to take your time and practice to find the pinning method that works best for you. Happy sewing!
What is a knit seam?
A knit seam is a type of seam used when sewing knit fabrics together. It is created by overlapping the raw edges of the fabric and sewing them together.
What types of stitches are used for sewing knit seams?
There are several types of stitches that can be used for sewing knit seams, including straight stitches, zigzag stitches, and stretch stitches.
What type of needle should I use when sewing knit seams?
It is recommended to use a ballpoint needle when sewing knit seams. This type of needle is designed to penetrate the fabric without damaging it.
What is the best stitch length for sewing knit seams?
The best stitch length for sewing knit seams is usually a smaller stitch length, such as 2.5mm or 3mm. This helps to ensure that the seam is secure and won’t stretch or come apart.
How do I prevent the fabric from stretching while sewing knit seams?
To prevent the fabric from stretching while sewing knit seams, you can use a walking foot or a knit fabric stabilizer. These tools help to feed the fabric evenly through the sewing machine, reducing the risk of stretching.
Can I use a regular sewing machine to sew knit seams?
Yes, you can use a regular sewing machine to sew knit seams. However, it is important to use the right needle, stitch, and techniques to ensure a strong and stretchy seam.
Do I need any special skills or tools to sew knit seams?
No, you don’t need any special skills or tools to sew knit seams. However, it can be helpful to have some prior sewing experience and to have the right needles, stitches, and techniques for sewing knit fabrics.