How to Hem Knit Fabric by Hand

Hemming knit fabrics is a fun sewing endeavor. It is the material’s stretchy feature that makes it fussy to handle for some. It is susceptible to rough edges and puckering. Not to mention the holes that may poke and damage your fabric. That’s why you should be cautious when using the needle and pins.

In particular, hemming is a skill you should possess, specifically if you want to give your garment or fabric a spotless and professional finish. So, don’t fret jumping in and trying it. Mistakes are a critical element to help you learn. But I don’t want you to fall and burn.

So, here’s a guide on how to make hemming knits on fabric easier for you.

How to Hem Knit Fabrics by Hand?

Hem knit fabrics are generally easy and quick projects to carry out. What you need are some added tips. To start, you should check the pattern for seam allowance. Choose the right sewing thread, needle, and correct stitch for sewing knit hems. The use of hemming tape may also be useful to make your work less stressful.

Steps to Hand Sew Hem Knit Fabrics

Knits are a staple in everyone’s wardrobe, from t-shirts and sweaters to leggings and more. Sewing lovers and fashionistas alike continuously embrace their ease, wearability, and comfort. Hemming is not always necessary for this type of fabric. But in case you are into something far exquisite, it makes a perfect handmade companion.

One unique advantage of knit fabrics is that they don’t fray. No wonder they’re envied by most sewers. And a specialized machine is not always required. However, for experienced sewers and beginners, a few techniques can make the project more enjoyable.

Step 1: Check the pattern of your fabric. Knits are renowned for being stretchy, so it’s crucial to make your garment in the appropriate width. For a raw edge, add 1/2” hem allowance.

Step 2: Use a fine quality polyester all-purpose thread as required. But if you want to achieve an invisible finish, a matching color will do the trick.

Step 3: Fold over the raw edges – usually 3/4” (women’s outline) and 1/2” (children’s wear). Pressing the knit also works if you have a cotton fabric or a combination of cotton. And since this fabric doesn’t usually fray, you only have to flip over the hem once. Now, sew across the edge. Now, you can give it a gentle press.

Step 4: A hemming tape is ideal for tackling puckering. It creates a smooth hem on any fabric. However, stretchy fabrics will further appreciate its function. Press the hemming tape across the hem of your item’s wrong side. Finish it up by giving the hem a final press to even out the stitches.

So, it is a useful stitch to master when you get the beat off. Use it to attach two pieces of fabric in an embellishing way. Just let those juicy ideas flow!

Extend Your Skills With the Following Hem Knit Fabric Ideas

The good news is that you can finish hemming your knit fabrics in several fabulous ways. You have the zigzag stitch, double-needle, stretch stitch, and cover stitch.

  • Zigzag Stitch: It enables the thread to stretch through the fabric. Just flip the hem up, then use the method to secure it.
  • Double-needle: It is also called a twin needle. It creates a professional-looking garment without relying on professional equipment. To do this, toss the hem above and stitch with a twin needle from the material’s right side.
  • Stretch Stitch: It allows you to make an attached hem in recurrent stitches. Therefore, making it less visible to the eyes. This method is also known as blind stitch hem. Perfect for designing any garments like knit blazers. Press the hem and then fold it back to the right side of the fabric. It should leave a narrow hem edge for you to sew.
  • Cover stitch: It could be your best alternative for hemming knit fabric you’re eyeing to decorate. However, in this one, you will need a specific sewing machine. A serger will do. There are standalone machines as well, especially suited for doing cover stitch. It has the same working mechanism as a double-needle but in an exceptionally delicate process.

Essential Tips When Sewing Hem Knit Fabrics

1. Determine Your Knit Fabric

There are a handful of knit fabrics available. They stretch, drape, and behave differently. Learning what they are capable of will allow you to use the material with the right pattern at ease. For instance, lightweight fabrics include bamboo rayon spandex, midweight fabrics like jersey, and heavyweight fabrics such as sweatshirt fleece and French terry.

2. Work With the Right Needle

Duller needles may be ideal when sewing knit fabrics. That’s because it comfortably shoves the fiber at a distance. Quite the reverse, sharp needles tend to hurt the fabric and cause runs. Thus, you will need a big one for sewing heavier weight fabrics. A smaller one accompanies lighter weight fabrics.

There are usually two types of needle used for knits: stretch and ballpoint. Stretch needles are best suitable if you need to sew through firmly knitted materials. You can use it on polyester and wool. Likewise, the ballpoint needles are perfect for loosely knit fabrics. Examples are woven and sweater-type. Its rounded points infiltrate the material without piercing the yarns.

3. Use Proper Sewing Thread

Cotton thread is a popular option when sewing knit fabrics. However, some experience a bit of an issue using it. Holes in the knit seams are likely to produce. Opt for an all-purpose thread instead. It goes well with any knit fabrics.

4. Cut the Fabric Through a Cutting Mat and Rotary Cutter

Knits are not forgiving when cutting them out. With a cutting mat, a rotary cutter is your best tool to ensure the luxury cutting of notches and curves.

5. Use Ballpoint Pins for Holding the Hem in Position

Regular pins are not suitable in this fabric. It tends to poke holes, which makes the finish less attractive. Use ballpoint pins to hold the hem and keep those edges perfectly leveled.

6. Prevent Rolling Edges With a Spray Starch

It happens sometimes, and possibly one of your biggest frustrations when working on knit fabrics. The solution is to spray starch and iron out to thicken the edges. No more annoying rolling tips!

7. Do Not Stretch Your Fabric While You Sew

Well, it is a common mistake among most sewers. It is specifically vital when sewing on the machine. Do not pluck out or stretch the fabric as it causes to be curvy or sprawl. The trick here is to hold the material in your lap. You can also put it on the table as you stitch.

There’s an exception, though. It’s possible to stretch the fabric when sewing on bands. It will fit the length in and bring back the elongated material inside.

8. Iron Is a Great Companion

Most types of sewing projects require fair use of iron. And knit fabrics are no exception. It presses the material and promotes smooth stitch throughout.

9. Practice Makes Perfect!

Mistakes are inevitable and might easily discourage you. That’s pretty normal, though. Just continue practicing, learning, and improving in this craft.

Can I Learn How to Sew Stretchy Fabrics With a Regular Sewing Machine?

Absolutely, yes! You don’t need to own a serger or overlocker to sew those stretchy knit fabrics. You can use the zigzag stitch on your home sewing machine as an alternative to these costly machinery pieces. Consider the stretch percentage in the material of your choice – making sure it matches the pattern well.

What Is the Best Stitch for Sewing Stretch Fabrics?

There’s an extensive array of stretch stitches, depending on the finished product you want to attain. Straight stretch stitch features three parallel rows of straight stitches. Besides, the twin needle stitch is ideal too. The right side has two parallel stitching rows, while the wrong side follows a zigzag form.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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