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How to Sew with Knit Fabric


Knit fabric is a type of fabric that’s made by knitting instead of weaving. The yarns are looped around each other to form the fabric, and these loops make knit fabric stretchy. On the other hand, woven fabric does not stretch on the straight grain (page link), only on the bias (page link) unless it contains spandex. Knit fabrics allow for closer-fitting garments with less construction details, making them comfortable to wear. Knit fabrics resist wrinkles, which makes them great for travel. Knit fabrics may stretch in one direction, across the width (two-way stretch) or stretch both across the width and length of the fabric (four-way stretch.)

Knit fabric

Knit fabric

Renfrew top in knit fabric

Renfrew top in knit fabric


Knit fabrics are perfect for casual clothing, athletic and workout wear, swimwear and lingerie and body-hugging designs. Look for sewing patterns designed specifically for knit fabrics. These patterns have less ease (page link) and have accounted for the stretch when it comes to bindings, cuffs and other garment pieces. Look for a guide on the back of the envelope showing how much stretch is required. Knit garments are quick to sew as they often have fewer seams and design details. With knit garments you can often eliminate the need for closures such as buttons or zippers. They stretch when you put them on and fit the body comfortably. Using knit fabrics also allows you to use negative ease (page link) to get a snug fit. Knits are more forgiving when it comes to fitting, as they will stretch to fit your body.


When cutting knit fabric, it’s important to cut it straight on grain. Otherwise the side seams will twist around the body. Look closely at the surface of your knit fabric and you’ll see ribbed lines running along the length of the fabric. This indicates the grain line (page link). Use these ribbed lines to line up the pattern pieces to ensure your pieces are on grain.

You may find it easier and more accurate to cut knit pieces on a single layer of fabric. Just remember to flip over the second piece so it’s a mirror image, not a duplicate!


There are a few differences between sewing with knit fabric and sewing with woven fabrics.

How to sew with knit fabric (1) - Needle


First, you’ll want to choose the right needle. Look for stretch or ballpoint needles, which have slightly rounded tips instead of sharp points. They’re designed so the needle doesn’t pierce the threads of the knit fabric and create holes; instead they penetrate between the fabric threads, pushing them aside. Test your needle on a scrap of your knit fabric to select the best needle for your project.

How to sew with knit fabric (2) - Stitch Type


Use a stretch stitch so the seams can stretch with the rest of the garment and the threads won’t break. Some machines have a variety of stretch stitches to choose from. If not, use a narrow zigzag stitch. Test your stitch on scrap fabric: stretch the seam to make sure the stitch is stretchy enough for your fabric.

How to sew with knit fabric (3) - Serging


A serger will sew stretchy seams and finish the edges at the same time. However, you don’t need to finish the seam allowances of knit fabric because it will not fray like woven fabric. You may want to neaten the insides, however.

How to sew with knit fabric (4) - Hemming


Sew hems with a stretch stitch as well, otherwise they won’t stretch with the garment and the thread will snap. Here are three different options for stretchy hems: (from top to bottom) three-step zigzag, standard zigzag and stretch stitch.

Source : The Sewtionary An A to Z Guide to 101 Sewing Techniques + Definitions
About the Author : Tasia ST. Germaine