Stretch stitch settings
Since stretch wovens sew up just like regular woven fabric our tips in this post are focused on knits! You can learn to sew jersey and other stretch fabrics quickly as you don’t really need any fancy gear (although they can make things a little easier or tidier). Let’s look at the options for you to pick from!
Ballpoint or Universal needles
The quickest and easiest option for sewing super stretchy fabric on your regular sewing machine is to install a ballpoint needle. This has a special tip without a sharp point so it avoids cutting the loops of knit fabric. Because if a loop is cut it’ll unravel your fabric a little and cause a hole. Not ideal. Ballpoint needles come in lots of sizes depending on whether you’re sewing a lightweight or heavy fabric, just like sharp needles. A universal needle can work well on many stretch and woven fabrics.
Use a classic zigzag stitch for construction with a stitch setting of 2 length and 2.5 width. This stitch is ideal as it stretches along with the fabric, creating flexible seams – very helpful when getting in and out of your garments. When hemming you can fold up the allowance then line your zigzag up to cover the raw fabric edge, to create a neat finish.
Twin needle stitch
For a slightly more polished hem finish you might choose a twin needle. This is a way to replicate the twin lines of stitching you often see on shop bought clothes but
Fit your machine with a twin needle and second thread spool following your machine’s instruction manual. Twin-needle stitching is more tricky as you have to stitch on the RS of the fabric. The bobbin thread creates a zigzag effect on the underside and covers the raw edges of the hem so you’ll want to get this as accurate as possible. If your fabric is really unruly, you can tack or pin it in place. You may want to use an erasable pen to mark the stitching line on the front of the fabric or use the tacking line as a guide.
Overcasting or overlocking on a regular sewing machine
Some machines have a special foot to use with a co-ordinating triangular stitch which looks a bit like mountains and valleys. Line up the edges of the fabric with the gap in the foot and use the protruding plastic part to guide the fabric. The stitch created will look like a crude overlocker stitch but as it’s made with a single needle it can take quite a while to stitch.
Using an Overocker aka Serger
These specialist machines aren’t necessary for your sewing room but they do come in handy for many sewing projects. You can use an overlocker to a) finish/neaten the raw edges of the seams after sewing, or b) construct robust seams. They’re fast and fun to use, plus they have a knife to trim seam allowances saving you even more time. We best point out that top-stitching will still need to be done on a regular machine.