I really enjoy sewing with knits. Yet, if you don’t follow the simple less is best principle, you may “over sew” your project! What’s “over sew?” My answer —”Working too hard, adding too many details.” Here are a few tips that might help you with your next (or first) knit sewing project.

Six knit garment sewing tips by tv host Nancy Zieman

Six Easy Knit Sewing Tips

Tip #1:  Choose an easy pattern

McCalls 7331 Nancy Zieman

McCalls 7331 by Nancy Zieman

  • Look for styles and shapes with few seams, letting the drape of the fabric be the star.

Tip #2: Sew simple

McCalls 7152 by Nancy Zieman

McCalls 7152 by Nancy Zieman

  •  If you’re a serger owner, here’s where a 4-thread overlock stitch should be used. It’s fast, easy, and the seam will stretch.

  • When using a conventional sewing machine, try a “wobble” stitch. First coined by Betty Cotton of quilting fame, this narrow zigzag (.5 width and 2.5 length) has an ever-so-slight zigzag, providing a little stretch in the seam while looking like a straight seam from the right side.

Tip #3: Sew in some stretch

McCalls 7353 by Nancy Zieman

McCalls 7353 by Nancy Zieman

  • Stabilize the shoulders of knit fabrics with clear elastic. Serge or wobble stitch over the seam, stitching over the elastic. The shoulder seams will stretch when needed without stretching out of shape. This tip works on shoulder seams of any length.

Tip #4: Serge off the hem

McCalls 6607 by Nancy Zieman

McCalls 6607 by Nancy Zieman

  • If you’re looking at a knit pattern with a shaped hem, make it easy on yourself; let your serger do the work. Use a 3-thread overlock stitch and serge along the hemline.
  • To keep the knit from stretching, serge over strips of wash away stabilizer. Place the strips on the wrong side of the fabric and then serge. After serging, tear away the excess stabilizer. Presto, no stretching. (The stabilizer is what you see on the wrong side of the fabric in the photos below.)
  • Serge each edge individually, don’t try to turn the corner. Tuck the thread tail to the wrong side and hand stitch the thread tail to the seam. Clip off the excess thread. It’s fast!


Tip #5: Double fold the edges

McCalls 7252 by Nancy Zieman

McCalls 7252 by Nancy Zieman

  • With knits, very few patterns have facings to finish the edges, one layer of fabric is all that’s used. Consider finishing the edges with a double fold.
  • Fold and press under a 1/4″ and straight or wobble stitch. Stitch one edge (center front seam in this example) and then the hemline. Before stitching the hemline’s double fold, place a scrap of fabric under the presser foot, stitch from the scrap (or anchor cloth as I like to call it) to the fabric. This anchor allows you to easily sew the thick area at the corner with even stitches.

  • Clip off the anchor cloth when finished.

Tip #6: Hem with fusible tape

McCalls 7290 by Nancy Zieman

McCalls 7290 by Nancy Zieman

  •  Press Pellon Lite EZ-Steam IIa 1/2″ wide paper-backed fusible webalong the wrong side of the hem’s outer edges.

How to Hem Knit Garments by Nancy Zieman

How to Hem Knit Garments by Nancy Zieman.

How to Hem Knit Garments by Nancy Zieman.

  • Remove the paper backing; then press the hem to the wrong side–at the edge of the tape. The fusible webbing provides extra stability and shaping.

How to Hem Knit Garments by Nancy Zieman.

  • Straight stitch or wobble stitch the hem. 
    How to Hem Knit Garments by Nancy Zieman.

Give these tips a try!

Watch Sew Knits with Confidence (Part One and Part Two) on Sewing With Nancy online.

To watch Sewing With Nancy on your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone, download the app.

Six tips for sewing knit garments by Nancy Zieman

Nancy Zieman the Blog Giveaway

For a chance to win a copy of one of my knit patterns from McCall’s, please leave a comment below and let me know your favorite knit design from the above featured designs. The McCall Pattern Company will give away one pattern to one US resident in the 48 contiguous states.

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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