Mastering the Art of Sewing Knit Material: A Step-by-Step Guide

Sewing can be a therapeutic and rewarding hobby, but it can also come with its challenges. One common struggle for many beginners is learning how to sew with knit material. Unlike traditional woven fabrics, knit fabric requires a different approach and technique in order to achieve a clean and professional finish. If you’re looking to expand your sewing skills and venture into the world of knits, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll delve into the basics of how to sew knit material and provide tips and tricks to make the process easier and more enjoyable. Get ready to take your sewing game to the next level!

Understanding Knit Materials

Knit materials are a popular choice for sewing projects, especially when it comes to clothing. They offer a comfortable and stretchy feel, making them suitable for different body types. However, sewing with knit fabrics can be challenging, especially for beginners. It requires some understanding of the material and the proper techniques for handling it.

Knit fabrics are made using interlocking loops of yarns that create a flexible and stretchy fabric. There are two main types of knit fabrics: weft knits and warp knits. Weft knits are created by one continuous yarn running horizontally across the fabric, while warp knits are made with several yarns running vertically through the fabric.

The stretchiness of knit fabrics depends on the type of stitch used to create the fabric. Most commonly, knit fabrics have a two-way stretch, meaning they can stretch both horizontally and vertically. Some also have a four-way stretch, meaning they can stretch in all directions.

There are various types of knit fabrics, including jersey, interlock, rib knit, and French terry. Each type has its distinct properties and is suitable for different projects. For example, jersey knit is excellent for t-shirts and dresses due to its drapey nature, while rib knit is perfect for cuffs and neckbands due to its stretchiness.

It’s essential to understand the characteristics of each type of knit material before starting your project. This knowledge will help you select the right material for your project and handle it correctly while sewing.

Preparing Your Sewing Machine

Before starting your project with knit materials, it’s crucial to prepare your sewing machine properly. Machine setup is crucial when working with any fabric type since it can affect stitch quality and durability.

Firstly, ensure your sewing machine has a ballpoint or jersey needle installed. These needles have rounded tips that glide through the knitted fabric without piercing or damaging it. Using a regular sharp needle can cause skipped stitches, holes, or runs in the fabric.

Next, adjust your machine’s stitch length and tension. Knit fabrics require a slightly longer stitch length and looser tension compared to woven fabrics. This adjustment will ensure that the stitches don’t pucker or break while sewing. It’s recommended to test the stitches on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure they are balanced.

You can also use a walking foot or stretch needle while working with thicker knit fabrics or those with a high percentage of spandex or lycra. The walking foot helps feed the top and bottom layers of fabric evenly, preventing any shifting or stretching.

Lastly, remember to use polyester thread when sewing knit materials. This type of thread has some stretch to it, making it suitable for working with stretchy knit fabrics.

Cutting and Handling Knit Materials

Cutting and handling knit materials require some special care due to their stretchy nature. One essential tip is to cut all pattern pieces in one layer instead of folding the fabric over. Folding can cause uneven cuts or distortions due to the weight of the fabric.

It’s also crucial to use sharp scissors when cutting knits as dull blades can cause snags in the fabric. You can also use a rotary cutter and mat for more precise and even cuts.

When handling knit material, it’s best not to pull or tug on the fabric excessively as this can stretch it out of shape. Instead, gently hold the edges while sewing to prevent any unnecessary stretching.

An essential technique when working with knit materials is using pins correctly. When pinning your pattern pieces onto the fabric, make sure you only pin within the seam allowance. Pinning outside the seam allowance can cause holes and marks in your finished project. You can also use clips instead of pins if preferred.

Lastly, after cutting your pattern pieces, it’s essential to stabilize any curved or stretchy seams with clear elastic or knit interfacing. This will help keep the shape of the garment and prevent any distortion while sewing.

Sewing Techniques for Knit Materials

Sewing techniques for knit materials differ from those used for woven fabrics. The following are some important techniques to keep in mind when sewing with knits.

Firstly, always start and end your stitches with a backstitch or securing stitch to prevent unraveling. For the best results, use a stretch stitch, such as a narrow zigzag or lightning bolt stitch. These stitches allow the fabric to retain its stretchiness, making it more comfortable to wear.

It’s also essential to handle seams correctly when sewing knit materials. Instead of pressing open the seam allowances like with woven fabrics, it’s recommended to press them either towards one side or in a particular direction. This will help reduce bulk in the seams and create smoother edges in your finished project.

You can also use a serger machine for finishing edges on knit garments. A serger creates a neat and professional finish by simultaneously trimming and overcasting the fabric’s raw edges.

Another useful technique is using clear elastic when hemming knits. This will help stabilize the hemline and

Understanding Knit Material

When it comes to sewing, there are many different types of fabric to work with. One of the most popular and versatile fabrics is knit material. Knit fabric is known for its stretch and flexible properties, making it a go-to choice for many pieces of clothing and home decor items. However, sewing with knit material can be intimidating for beginners. In this guide, we will break down the basics of sewing with knit material and give you helpful tips to ensure your projects come out perfect every time.

One of the first things to understand about knit material is its construction. Knit fabric is made up of interlocking loops of yarn that allow it to stretch in one or both directions. This unique construction makes knit fabric comfortable and forgiving. It also means that when working with knit material, you need to take into consideration its stretchiness. Not all knit fabrics are made equal, so it’s essential to know the type of knit material you are working with before starting your project.

Tools and Materials Needed

Before diving into sewing with knit material, make sure you have all the necessary tools and materials on hand. The good news is that most of these items are probably already in your sewing kit.

– Sewing machine: A basic sewing machine will do just fine for working with knit fabric. However, if you have a machine with a stretch stitch option, it will make your life much easier.
– Ballpoint needles: These needles have rounded tips that slide between the fibers rather than piercing them, reducing damage to the fabric.
– Thread: Use a high-quality polyester thread that has some stretch and give to match the flexibility of the knit fabric.
– Fabric shears: A sharp pair of scissors is essential when working with any type of fabric.
– Pins or clips: Ensure you have enough pins or clips on hand to keep your fabric in place while sewing.
– Tape measure: Accurate measurements are crucial when working with knit fabric.
– Seam ripper: Mistakes happen, so make sure you have a seam ripper to undo any errors quickly.
– Iron and ironing board: Ironing your knit fabric before sewing will help get rid of any wrinkles and ensure a professional-looking finish.

Prepping Your Knit Material

Preparation is key when working with any type of fabric, but even more so with knit material. The first thing you want to do is prewash your fabric. Follow the washing instructions on the fabric label and use a mild detergent. This step will help prevent shrinkage of your finished project.

Next, lay out your fabric on a flat surface and let it air dry. Avoid using a dryer as it can cause the fibers in knit material to shrink or tighten up. Once your fabric is dry, use an iron on low heat to remove any wrinkles. Be careful not to press too hard as this can cause puckering in the fabric.

Finally, make sure to lay out your pattern pieces in the same direction as the grain of the fabric. The grain is the direction of the loops in the knit material and will give your finished project optimal stretch and fit.

Best Practices for Sewing Knit Material

Sewing with knit material requires a different approach than other types of fabrics. Here are some best practices to help you achieve professional-looking results:

– Always use a ballpoint needle: As mentioned earlier, using a ballpoint needle will help prevent damage to the knit fabric.
– Experiment with different stitches: Most sewing machines have stretch stitch options that work well with knit material. Test out different stitches on scrap pieces of fabric before starting your project.
– Use shorter stitch lengths: A shorter stitch length will prevent stretchiness along seams, ensuring they stay put.
– Don’t stretch the fabric while sewing: Unlike other fabrics where you might need to stretch the material to fit a curve or corner, knit material should not be stretched while sewing. Doing so can cause puckering and misshapen seams.
– Use pins or clips sparingly: Pins or clips can leave holes in knit material that may not go away even after washing. Instead, try using pattern weights or hand-basting to keep your fabric in place.
– Finish seam edges: To prevent fraying, finish the edges of your seams with a zigzag stitch or serger.
– Take your time: Sewing with knit material requires patience and a slower pace than other fabrics. Don’t rush through your project; take your time to ensure everything is sewn correctly.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even with the best preparation and practices, you may still run into some challenges when sewing with knit material. Here are some common issues you may encounter and how to solve them:

– Puckering: If you notice puckering on your seams, try adjusting your stitch length to be shorter and make sure you are not stretching the fabric while sewing.
– Wavy hems: Hems can sometimes become wavy when working with knit fabric. To fix this issue

Q: What type of needle should I use when sewing knit material?
A: It is recommended to use a ballpoint or stretch needle when sewing knit material. These needles have a rounded tip that helps prevent the fabric from getting snagged or skipped stitches.

Q: Should I adjust the tension on my sewing machine for knits?
A: Yes, adjusting the tension on your sewing machine is crucial when working with knit material. Knits are stretchy, so using a lower tension setting will help prevent puckering and stretching out of shape while sewing.

Q: How can I prevent my seams from stretching or puckering while sewing knits?
A: One way to prevent this is by using a walking foot or dual feed foot on your machine. Another option is to place tissue paper under the fabric while sewing, which helps stabilize the fabric and prevents it from shifting.

Q: What stitch length should I use for sewing knit material?
A: It is best to use a slightly longer stitch length, such as 2.5mm, when sewing knits. This will allow the fabric to stretch without causing any puckering or bunching of fabric.

Q: Can I iron knit material?
A: Yes, you can iron knit material but be sure to use a low heat setting and always test it on a scrap piece of fabric first. It’s also helpful to use a pressing cloth between the iron and fabric to prevent any potential damage.

Q: How do I finish raw edges on knit fabric?
A: Knit fabrics do not fray like woven fabrics, but it is still important to finish raw edges for a professional-looking seam. You can use an overlock stitch on your serger, zigzag stitch on your regular machine, or bind with bias tape for a clean edge.

In conclusion, sewing knit material may seem intimidating at first, but with the right techniques and tools, it can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. By understanding the unique properties of knit fabric and following proper stitching methods, you can create high-quality and comfortable garments for yourself or others.

We have discussed various techniques for sewing knit fabric, such as using stretch stitches, ballpoint needles, and stabilizers. It is important to note that each project may require different approaches, so it is essential to experiment and find what works best for you.

We have also learned the importance of selecting the right type of knit fabric for your project. Different knits have different levels of stretch and weight, which can affect the fit and drape of your garment. Taking the time to understand these differences will result in a well-fitting and visually appealing final product.

Additionally, we have highlighted the significance of proper preparation before sewing. From prewashing your fabric to preparing your pattern pieces correctly, these steps are crucial in achieving professional-looking results. Neglecting them could lead to shrinkage or distortion in the final product.

Lastly, we cannot stress enough the importance of patience and practice when sewing knit material. As this type of fabric is more forgiving than woven fabrics, it takes time to master handling it

Author Profile

Jill Nammar
My name is Jill but everyone calls me Jilly. I design original cross stitch patterns inspired by vintage French and flowers. Roses are my muse.
I hope you have a cozy time stitching my patterns. Put the kettle on, relax and create a heartwarming piece of hand-embroidered art. Personalize your home and turn up the soulful charm with soulful stitchery.

My goal is to provide you with pretty patterns that promote peaceful stitching. My wish is for you to discover the gentle beauty of hand-embroidery.My patterns have been featured around the web and in Homespun Magazine and Boston Magazine. I find my bliss in cross stitch.

From 2024, I have embarked on a new venture—writing an informative blog on the “Embroidery and Cross-Stitch” niche. This blog is an extension of my passion, where I share detailed posts and respond to queries related to embroidery and cross-stitching.

The blog covers a wide range of topics from beginner tips, pattern creation, historical insights, and the therapeutic benefits of stitching. My goal is to build a community where enthusiasts can learn, share, and grow in their embroidery skills, ensuring everyone can find their own bliss in cross-stitch just as I did.

Thank you to all my customers and readers who have supported Sew French. Your kind emails, photos of completed patterns, and continual encouragement fuel my dedication to this beautiful craft. Join me in stitching a world of beauty and peace, one pattern at a time.