Tips for Sewing Stretch Fabrics

Lorna Malkin Dressmaking Tutorials, Pattern Review, Tips & Tricks, Tutorial 0 Comments

Want to stretch you sewing skills and sew cosy, jersey and stretch fabrics? Discover our tops tips below for stitch success!

The Simple Sew Miranda T-Shirt in a medium-weight jersey knit


Setting Up Your Machine

Before you start sewing up your lovely garment, it’s a good idea to test your chosen stitch settings on a scrap piece of fabric and make any amends if needed. When sewing with stretch fabrics, you’ll need to use a stretch or ballpoint needle. These needles push aside the fabric fibres and thus prevents any rips or snags. To help you determine which size to use, see our guide to sewing machine needles here.

Jersey sewing machine needles by Prym

When sewing stretch fabrics it’s best to use a narrow zigzag, or your could sew your garment on an overlocker. Again, make sure you test your stitch settings on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure the tension is okay. You could also use a twin needle to create a professional-looking hem on your garment. 

Machine Walking Foot 

Janome Even Feed Foot

Janome Even Feed Foot

A walking foot, or dual-feed foot is used to feed both layers of fabric through your machine at the same speed and therefore prevent any wobbly seams. Additionally, it’s a good idea to try and keep all the fabric on your sewing machine table as you sew to prevent it from stretching. You can buy an extension table for your sewing machine to help with this. 

Finishing Raw Edges

One of the great things about knits is that the fabric doesn’t fray. However if you want to achieve a professional looking finish you can finish the seams with a zigzig stitch or an overlocker (serger). Trim the seam allowances to about half their width first then zigzag with a regular presser foot about 5mm (¼”) away from the seam line before trimming the seam allowances. 

Singer overedge foot

You can also use an overedge foot which creates a more robust finish. It will also stop the raw edge from rolling up. To use,  line up the raw edge of the fabric with the guide on the foot so the right-hand side of the zigzag lands exactly on the edge.

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