Can you sew knit fabrics on a regular machine successfully?

Not everyone has a serger so can you sew knits with professional results? Joi HELP!

I almost always sew my knit fabrics on my sergers, but this week I was helping out a client who was in a wedding and needed their dress hemmed. You never know what you will get with ready to wear dresses, but this one was actually pretty nice. It however, was made from a jersey knit lining with a stretch mesh sheer knit overlay. When altering a garment the goal is always to have the garment look the same or better after the changes. My rule is to always put in the same hems and finishes as the original, again unless I can make it even better by changing. The reason I put the same one back after altering is that usually my custom and alteration clients are not familiar with sewing. So they want things to look the same and often are concerned that alterations will change the look. I always reassure them it will look the same only fit and look better.


This photo is my altered rolled hem. The stitches look great don’t they? This was done on my regular sewing machine with NO skipped stitches. How did I do that?

Here are my easy tips for sewing knits with a regular machine:

  1. SAMPLES!!! take a swatch or seam allowance of what you are sewing and test your settings first.
  2. Select a stretch stitch. This hem was full and was not going to be pulling around the body so I left a regular straight stitch in the rolled hem.
  3. Needles: You have to use a new sharp needle to prevent making runs in the knit, but you also will need a Stretch, Jersey or Microtex needle on fine knits. I recently have adopted the Schmetz CHROME Stretch needle in a size 10 for professional results.
  4. TENSION: even with the correct needle you may need to adjust your tension. I don’t have to do this too often, but especially in lesser quality fabrics you will need to adjust the tension. Sometimes there is a finish on fabrics that cause the stitches to loop or not form as tight. In this hem I tightened the tension to a 6.2. This allowed the bobbin thread to tighten up and it balanced out the stitching top and bottom for beautiful results.
  5. SPEED: If you are not consistent with the pressure you are putting on the presser foot than you can cause slipped stitches simply by inconsistencies in the speed. Lower your machine speed to a medium or slow and then you can press the foot all the way down without it taking off on you.


Sewing a rolled hem on a knit lining.
Here is a narrow rolled hem on the top sheer stretch mesh overlay. After a nice press to remove the chalk guide line the hem looks original and professional. No home sewn looks at all.




Check my Instagram for a quick live video of when I did this hem in my studio.

Join me later this week for a discussion on fitting darts and why you may need them to achieve your best fit.

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