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Knits and stitches: everything you need to know

The following is sponsored by Girl Charlee.

You CAN sew knits with a sewing machine! An easy guide to choosing the right stitch.

Sewing knits can be mysterious. don’t be intimidated! While every sewing machine handles knits a bit differently, there are some universal tips that will help you get the best results. Let’s talk about what stitch you should use on your sewing machine. I think it’s good to note that a serger is ideal for knits but definitely not necessary. You’ll be on your way to sewing your favorite top in no time!

Let’s test out some stitches, shall we? First, cut some equal strips of the fabric you want to use. I cut mine 3″x10″. I measured the stretch of the fabric, which turned out to be about 40%. This is a good amount of stretch for any top, dress or skirt.

Now let’s start testing our stitches!

Sewing machine stitches on knit fabric. Which is the best to use?

Not all sewing machines have fancy stitches. If you only have a straight stitch you CAN sew knits but, as you can see, you will need to stretch your knit as you go and it will end up slightly puckered.

A zig zag stitch is on nearly all machines and is a great option. Make it a little narrower so your seams will lie flat. You may want to test out the difference between your 3 step zig zag and your regular zig zag to see which you like best.

A knit stitch is a nice, straight stitch that also has stretch. It’s durable as well. As you can see, it doesn’t have as much stretch as some other stitches but it does make your seams lie flat.

A faux serger stitch is GREAT if you have it!

Ready to learn more about sewing with knits?? Head over to these other great blogs for tips you don’t want to miss!

See Kate Sew: An intro to knits, the first post you want to read!
Melly Sews: An up close look at the differences in types of knit fabrics
Shwin & Shwin: Knits 102, understanding the coverstitch and overlock stitch

March 24th is the LAST day to buy the Just Add Jeans Collection! Please don’t miss out! The patterns will be for sale individually beginning March 25th.

UPDATE: This is what my stitches look like on my machine.



  1. says

    Hi there! Are you able to show me the knit stitch on the sewing machine? And what’s the difference between the zig zag stitch and the 3 step zig zag stitch? Thank you!

      • Cindy says

        Hi Andrea,

        Thanks for adding the photo of the stitches on the machine! I have all the stitches on my machine but never knew what they are called, so this is a great help! Thanks again :)


  2. Linda says

    There is one other option for stitching with knits that gives a good result. If you use a double needle and sew a regular straight stitch, what happens is that underneath the needle forms a zig zag type stitch that allows for stretch. So it looks like a straight stitch on top but a zig zag underneath. You will have to set the stitch length and tension on a scrap of your fabric first but it does a wonderful job for knits.

  3. sonia says

    Before stitching and before cutting fabric do I need to know how much it will stretch or do I measure regular without considering the stretch? Also you mentioned it is OK to do a straight stitch but will look puckered up at seam…but will it also alter the end result do to the puckering? Thanks

  4. Cassandra says

    Why does no one use the honeycomb stitch (12)? My machine guide says it’s best for knits but I never see anyone use it?

  5. Aedan says

    Hi Andrea! I’m new to sewing, and I wanted to sew a stretch knit/Lycra skirt; I currently have a Singer Esteem II, do I need to get any sort of fancy needles or a foot of some kind? Or am I fine with what I have?
    Do you have stretch as you sew with all kinds of stitches, or just the straight stitch?

  6. janet says

    Thanks for being an angel put on earth to help.I learned to sew nearly 60 years ago when plain old cotton was what was. My mother warned me off knits saying they were too hard/special and we couldnt with our machine. So ive been hesitant ever since. I now need to figure this out and have lookt in books at my fabric store and nothing addresses this. Is there no difference?

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