Mastering the Challenge of Sewing Knit Fabrics

Colette Georgii (guest contributor)

If you've been sewing clothes for some time and are searching for a more challenging sewing project, consider sewing an article of clothing using knit fabric. Sewing knit fabric is a little trickier than sewing ordinary fabric. Knit fabric stretches, so it must be sewn with a little give so that the sewing can stretch with the fabric.

An overlock machine is the preferred machine for sewing knit fabric, but you can also sew knit fabric on a conventional sewing machine.

Conventional sewing machine
To use a conventional sewing machine for knit fabric, you should use polyester or nylon thread, not cotton thread. Polyester and nylon have more elasticity and can stretch a little with the fabric.

You should also adjust the stitch from a straight stitch to a small zigzag stitch. This will give the seam more of a stretch to accommodate the stretch of the fabric. You can also use a plain straight stitch if you prefer as long as you use polyester thread.

When sewing, do not stretch the fabric, but loosely feed the fabric under the needle as you are sewing. You can test how well the seam will stretch with the fabric by testing it before sewing the garment. Just sew on a scrap of fabric with the stitch you will be using to sew the fabric. Then stretch the fabric to see if the thread will break. If the thread remains intact, you will be able to sew it correctly. If the thread does break, then make your zigzag stitch a little larger or change your straight stitch into a zigzag stitch.

Overlock sewing machine
There are many different types of overlock machines. Overlock machines sew, cut and trim a garment as you sew. They are the best sewing machine for sewing on knit fabric. The stitch looks like a straight stitch, but is really a zigzag stitch. The stitch comes out looking as though it is straight because it is fed differently at the top and bottom under the needle.

Overlock machines come in two-stitch, three-stitch and four-stitch machines. The three-stitch overlock is best for knit fabric.

An overlock machine sews faster than the conventional sewing machine, so you will have to have good control of the machine and try to not stretch your knit fabric while sewing. It must be held gently while feeding it under the needle.

With an overlock machine, you need to change the needles and cutting blades periodically. The needle also has a different look than the conventional sewing machine needle.

Polyester and nylon threads can also be used on an overlock machine. Never use cotton thread for sewing on knit fabric. The thread must also have elasticity to match up with the stretch of the fabric.

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USER COMMENTS

Your Needle
If you find your stitches are skipping, you can lower your needle ever so slightly and will not have any more skipped stitches!
Your Needle
If you find your stitches are skipping, you can lower your needle ever so slightly and will not have any more skipped stitches!
Your Needle
If you find your stitches are skipping, you can lower your needle ever so slightly and will not have any more skipped stitches!

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