sew knits without serger

Master the Art of Sewing Knits Without a Serger – 5 Game-Changing Techniques

Sewing with knit fabrics doesn’t have to be difficult, even if you don’t have a serger. This article covers five simple methods for sewing knits neatly using just a regular sewing machine.

  • Zigzag stitch to prevent fraying
  • Use a stretch needle
  • Tissue paper stabilizer trick
  • Woolly nylon in the bobbin
  • Adjust tension settings

Why bother with these techniques? Knits won’t fray as badly, seams will stretch with the fabric, and your projects will look neat and professional. Ready to get started?

The Zigzag Stitch

The most basic way to sew knits without a serger is by using a zigzag stitch. This forms a stretchy stitch that allows the seam to stretch along with the knit fabric.

To do this, simply set your sewing machine to a zigzag stitch rather than a straight stitch. Slightly loosen the tension too. Sew your seams using this zigzag stitch, stretching the fabric gently as you sew.

The zigzag encases the raw fabric edge so it doesn’t fray easily. Easy peasy!

Special Stretch Needles

Special Stretch Needles
Photo credit: pexels

Another handy trick is to use a special stretch needle made for sewing knits. These have a slightly rounded point that pierces the fabric without cutting the threads.

Regular sharp needles can cut and shred knits, especially lightweight jersey knits. But a stretch needle slides through the fabric loops smoothly. Your stitches will look much neater.

You can find stretch needles anywhere they sell sewing machine needles. Just look for wording like “stretch” or “ball-point” on the package.

Tissue Paper Stabilizer

Have you tried the tissue paper stabilizer trick? This involves layering tissue paper underneath your knit fabric as you stitch the seams.

The thin paper supports the stretchy knit so the feed dogs can grip it properly. It prevents ripples and tunnelling in your seams. Just gently tear away the tissue paper after sewing.

Any lightweight tissue paper works fine – even toilet paper or paper towels in a pinch! It’s a small step that makes a big difference.

Wooly Nylon in the Bobbin

Here’s an interesting technique – using woolly nylon thread in your bobbin rather than regular thread.

Woolly nylon thread has a stretchy, fuzzy texture that’s perfect for knit seams. It allows the stitches to stretch without breaking or popping.

Just wind some wooly nylon into your bobbin case, then use regular thread on top. The combination creates stretchy, durable stitches ideal for knits.

Wooly nylon can be found at most sewing stores and is inexpensive. Grab a few colours to have on hand.

Adjusting Tension Settings

Finally, you may need to adjust your sewing machine’s tension settings to properly stitch knits.

Slightly loosening the top tension helps the stitches stretch with the fabric. Start by lowering the top tension by 1 or 2 numbers.

Test this on a knit fabric scrap first, gently stretching the sewn area. Adjust further if needed until you get flexible, neat stitches.

The right tension plus the other tricks in this article are the perfect formula for professional-looking knit garments!


What type of stitch should I use to sew knits without a serger?

The zigzag stitch is the most basic and effective way to sew stretchy knit fabrics on a regular sewing machine. It creates a stretchable seam that won’t pop or break.

Do I need special needles to sew knits?

Yes, using a stretch or ball-point needle designed for knits helps prevent skipped stitches and fabric damage. These needles have a slightly rounded tip that slides through the fabric loops smoothly.

How can I stabilize knit fabric when sewing without a serger?

Try layering a thin tissue paper or toilet paper underneath the knit fabric as you sew. This provides support so the feed dogs can grip the stretchy material properly, preventing ripples and tunnelling.


There you have it – five easy ways to sew knits beautifully without a serger. By using a zigzag stitch, stretch needle, tissue stabilizer, wooly nylon bobbin thread, and adjusting tension, your knit projects will look fantastic.

Which of these methods are you most excited to try? With a little practice, you’ll be whipping up stretchy t-shirts, leggings, and more in no time. Knits are fun and easy to sew – give it a shot!


Main image: freepik

Priti Nandy
Priti Nandy
Articles: 285

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