Sewing With Knits – Basics For Success


Knits! T-shirts, leggings, or a soft knit dress are always a great choice for comfort in ready to wear. If you haven’t sewn your own though, you can! Knit fabrics have been my favorite choice for years and my sewing “toolbox” is full of awesome tips. I’ve outlined the basics for you below – for even more tips, techniques and confidence, sign up for my 2018 Sewing & Stitchery Expo class!

Needles, Thread and Other Knit Sewing Friends

For knit fabric sewing, always choose a stretch needle in the size appropriate for your fabric weight.  On your sewing machine, thread up with Coats’ new Eloflex Stretch Thread for seams, hems and topstitching that retain their stretch. Your serger will be fine with a regular cone thread. Basic sewing supplies should include ballpoint pins, serrated scissors and/or a rotary cutter.

Gorgeous Knits from Pacific Fabrics

Today’s Knit Fabric Stars

When choosing a knit fabric, be sure to check the percentage of stretch and which direction it goes. Neglecting this step could result in a wardrobe sewing disaster and you definitely want to avoid that! Pre-wash as you would any fabric designed for clothing.

Jersey, Ponte, Scuba and Double Brushed Poly are the stars of today’s knit fabric world. There are many other choices, but these are the fabrics we’re all crushing on right now.

  • Jersey: A light-weight, single knit fabric most commonly used for t-shirts and dresses.
  • Ponte: A firm, medium-weight, double knit perfect for pants, jackets, skirts and structured dresses.
  • Scuba: Also a double knit, but a bit lighter weight and finer of surface than Ponte. Beautiful for skirts and dresses.
  • Double Brushed Poly: Soft, stretchy and like wearing “secret pajamas”! Perfect for leggings, dresses and tops.

Choose Wisely – Finding the Right Pattern

The Big Five pattern companies offer wonderful patterns for knits. Independent companies such as Sew to Grow, Closet Case, Grainline Studio, Sew Caroline  and Snapdragon Studios also offer lots of choices for beautiful knit patterns. Be sure to check the back of the pattern envelope for suggested fabrics.

Knit Fabric Sewing Basics

“Do I have to have a Serger?” No! Any Sewing Machine can be used to sew knits with Coats new Eloflex Stretch Thread. A Serger is a wonderful thing for sewing knit fabric seams though, so if you own one, definitely use it. If a Cover Stitch machine is available to you, they are marvelous for hemming and top-stitching.

A ¼” seam is the perfect width for knits. You may find that seam allowance trimming is needed, depending on the pattern company you choose.  The stretch and drape of a knit fabric is best enjoyed with this “narrow” seam allowance.

Knits do not ravel, so seam finishes are not required! To reduce bulk, hem edges do not need to be turned under. There are many stunning options for neck, sleeve and hem finishes to be explored. You can even use the cut edge as your “finish”!

Join Me! Sewing With Knits – Trends & Techniques for Every Body

Are you ready to sew? I’ll have loads more info in my class for you along with a super helpful handout to take home. And, you’ll get to see what I make from the beautiful fabrics provided by my sponsor, Pacific Fabrics! Sign up right here and I’ll see you in class!

About the Author: Annette Millard recently started her own blog, The Sewful Life, which utilizes her sewing and teaching experience to provide helpful tips and tricks, tutorials, and project ideas. Visit the blog at  and be sure to say “hi” at Expo in one of her three classes!