Sewing Knits Without a Serger – (Step by Step)

Last Updated on August 29, 2023

Sewing Knits Without a Serger: Are you a sewing enthusiast eager to conquer knit fabrics without needing a serger? Well, you’re in for a treat! Here, we will delve into sewing knits with a conventional sewing machine.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced sewist, these techniques will empower you to work with stretchy fabrics confidently.

Sewing Knits Without a Serger

Taking the Fear Out of Knit Fabric

As a sewing pattern designer and blogger, I remember my initial trepidation when it came to sewing with knit fabrics.

I used to stick to woven fabrics and shied away from knits due to the misconception that they required specialized equipment like a serger. However, after extensive research and practice, I’ve embraced sewing knits with a regular sewing machine.

Sewing Knits Without a Serger

Here, I’ll share the essential supplies and stitches needed to master sewing knit fabrics and create beautifully finished garments.

Choosing the Right Needle: Ballpoint vs. Stretch Needles

When sewing with knit fabrics, the choice of needle is crucial. Opt for a ballpoint needle, which features a rounded tip that prevents creating holes in the fabric.

Depending on the weight of your knit fabric, you might need different needle sizes. Use a smaller size for thinner knits, while thicker knits require a larger size.

Stretch needles, like ballpoint needles, are ideal for elastic fabrics like swimwear and underwear. Test different needle types and sizes on a scrap of fabric to determine the best match.

Presser Foot: Walking Foot and More

Presser Foot

While a regular presser foot works for sewing knits, a walking foot can significantly enhance your sewing experience.

A walking foot feeds the fabric from the top, just like the feed dogs on the bottom of the machine, preventing the fabric from stretching out as you sew. If you lack a walking foot, use tissue paper or tracing paper underneath the fabric to facilitate smooth feeding.

Additionally, some machines feature a dual feed feature that assists in moving fabric through evenly.

Mastering Stitches for Knits

  1. Zigzag Stitch: This versatile stitch is a go-to for sewing knits. Experiment with stitch width and length to find the best settings for your fabric. Zigzag stitches provide elasticity and durability, making them suitable for both seams and topstitching.
  2. Lightning Stitch: Similar to zigzag but tighter, this stitch is perfect for creating secure seams. It’s excellent for high-stress areas like leggings or activewear. Adjust stitch width and length to match your fabric’s stretch.
  3. Triple Zigzag Stitch: This stitch combines three stitches in one direction with three stitches in the other. It results in a strong, stretchy, and decorative seam. It is ideal for adding a pop of style to your knit garments.
  4. Triple Straight Stitch: A variation of the straight stitch, this one goes forward, backward, forward, forward, backward. It offers both stretch and security, making it suitable for various knit projects.
  5. Overcast Stitches: Your sewing machine may offer overcast stitches that simulate serger stitches. These stitches finish raw edges neatly, preventing fraying. They’re especially useful for knit fabrics prone to unraveling.
  6. Knit Stitch: Also known as the double over edge or overlock stitch, this stitch resembles the serger’s work. It’s fantastic for finishing edges and hems, giving your garments a professional look.

Putting It All Together: Tips for Success

  • Test and Experiment: Don’t hesitate to sew test stitches on fabric scraps. This allows you to adjust settings and find the perfect stitch for your project.
  • Use Tissue Paper: If you’re not using a walking foot, place tissue paper under the fabric to assist with feeding and prevent stretching.
  • Press Seams: Press your seams to the side or open, depending on your preference and fabric type. A steam iron can help eliminate any stretching that might have occurred during sewing.
  • Practice Hemming: Knit stitches are excellent for hemming. Fold the fabric, press, and topstitch using a suitable stretch stitch.

Video: How to sew knit fabrics without a serger


With the right knowledge and a regular sewing machine, sewing knits without a serger becomes exciting and rewarding.

You’ll unlock a world of creative possibilities by selecting appropriate needles, using the correct presser foot, and mastering essential stitches.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and learn from your sewing journey. With practice, you’ll create stunning knit garments that fit and flatter you like never before.

So grab your fabric, fire up your sewing machine, and let your creativity soar with knit fabrics!

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