Stitches for hemming knits

Blind Hem Stitch

When you’re testing out the best stitches for knit fabrics, don’t forget the blind hem. It’s a great choice for hemming knits.

blind hem on ponte: with matching thread, it’s virtually invisible from the right side

If you look at the wrong side of a blind hem, there’s that zigzag again, though it looks a little different. The zigzag only comes every few stitches, taking a little bite of fabric with each one.

Because of how you sew a blind hem, you only see little micro stitches on the right side. Use it whenever you have a knit garment that’s a little fancier than your favorite t-shirt pattern.

Think knit pencil skirt or a sweatshirt blazer hem.

Double needle with narrow zigzag

double needle hem on cotton knit
very slight zigzag on front + zigzag on back created by the double needle

Double needles are a great tool in combination with a narrow zigzag. Learn more about double needles in this post that’ll show you how to pick the best needles for knits.

When you combine the slight stretch in a narrow zigzag with the zigzag on the back that you get on a double needle, you’ll have a sturdy unpoppable hem.

Double needle + narrow zigzag is great for necklines too. From the right side, it almost looks like a coverstitch.

double needle on neckband: a nice choice for these bulky sweater knits

Stitches for finishing knit seams

Here’s the thing. Very few knit fabric ravel. So do you *need* to finish knit seams like you must with wovens? No. But, that being said, if you care enough to sew for yourself, you probably care enough to make nice insides on your garments. So here’s some options to consider to make pretty knit seam finishes.

Overlock stitch

Do you know that your regular sewing machine probably has an “overlock stitch”? I think I didn’t know about mine until I had already invested in a serger. *face palm*

It looks like this:

overlock stitch on cotton knit
a neat, flat overlock stitch on cotton interlock

While it’s not as clean as a serged seam, and it’s not the fastest to sew, it can be a great alternative to a serger when you want to finish a seam. The stitch sits “over” edge of the fabric stitching around it with a more complicated zigzag to “lock” it in place. Get the name, now?

#10 overcasting, #12 double overedge: both similar to the overlock stitch, but test on your fabric for the best solution!

There might be a couple variations on your sewing machine of an “overlock stitch”, so test them out. The overlock stitch did a good job on knits, but the similar overcasting and double overedge stitch stretched out the jersey considerably! Better those be used for wovens.

seam finish stitches on jersey
double overedge (left) and overcasting (right) are Warp City on this blue jersey

Narrow zigzag + Double stitched seam

double stitched seam on scuba
double stitched seam on scuba

I remember seeing this a lot on Big 4 pattern directions when I was first sewing. Use a narrow zigzag for this.

Sew your seam as you would normally, then sew a second row of stitching about 1/4″ away from the seam. From there you can call it a day, or you can trim the rest of the seam allowance close to the 2nd row of stitching.

This kind of seam finish will give you some extra strength on high stress areas and it makes for a nice minimal finish with no extra bulk.

Decorative stitches for bulky knits

Anytime you have a heavy weight knit like sweatshirting, play around with your seam finishes. Simply sewing the edges of a seam together like you would with a serger, overlock stitch, or double stitched seam will make a big chunky seam on the inside of your garment.

this sweater fleece is almost to thick to serge, so a double needle keeps the seam allowances flat and cuts down on the bulk

At the very least, press open the seam allowances when you sew heavy knits and choose your seam finish from there. You could twin needle from the right side to secure the stitches down.

decorative stitch on sweatshirt
This sweatshirting doesn’t stretch much, so the decorative stitch is a fun choice that also flattens out those bulky seam allowances

Even more fun: press the seam, and stitch from the right side with a decorative stitch. It’s a different kind of way to topstitch your seam into place, and I’ll be you $5 those stitches don’t get a lot of playtime on your machine!

So when it comes to finding the best stitches for knit fabric, you really do have a ton of options available to you even before you get within a country mile of a serger. Now you have some great options for stitching knits when you’re sewing seams, hems, and finishing seams.

Test out your options. It’s always good to know what the stitches look like and how they perform, and then when it’s time to pull them out of your back pocket, you have some ideas!

What’s your favorite stitch for sewing knits?

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