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The Best Stitches for Stretchy Fabric (Tips Provided)

If you are one of those who works quite a lot with stretchy fabrics, this article is for you. Stretchy fabrics can be pretty difficult to stitch as compared to other fabrics. Since they have an elastic finish, we need to be careful with the types of stitches we perform on them.

If you may wonder which is the preferable stitch for stretchy fabrics, then the zig-zag stitch is the answer. Stretchy fabrics need stitches that move with the fabric or those which are flexible. Zigzag stitches have the exact right texture, which goes perfectly well with stretchy materials.

Now, there are numerous kinds of zig-zag stitches that you can use according to the type of design you plan on doing. Let’s get a little deeper into this discussion and look at the best stitches for stretchy materials.

What is the best stitch for stretchy fabrics?

The most suitable stitches for stretchy fabrics are zig-zag stitches, as explained above. Since stretchy materials tend to stretch or move over, it requires a flexible stitch to hold the material together.

This is why a zig-zag stitch is a preferable stitch that you can perform on stretchy material. Now stretchy fabrics are actually woven or knitted material. These fabrics have a greater tendency to move or stretch as compared to other fabrics.

Also, a majority of the stretch fabrics are knit materials. This kind of fabric has a 4-way stretch. This means that these fabrics or materials can be stretched either lengthwise or crosswise.

However, you can also find other stretchy materials that have a 2-way stretch only. These fabrics are usually on the heavier side. This is why it is important to get the right kind of fabric for your projects.

Three Best Zig Zag Stitch Types For Stretchy Fabrics

#1. The Basic Zig-Zag Stitch

If you work a lot with knit fabrics or stretchy materials, you need to use a flexible stitch or a moveable one. If you happen to use a straight stitch for your projects, the moment that the material is stretched, the thread will break open.

You would not want such a situation to arise during your sewing projects. Hence, certain specific stitches are suitable for stretch fabrics or knit materials. This is why we mostly choose zig-zag fabrics to sew stretchy materials.

The first type of the same is the basic zig-zag stitch. The zig-zag stitch is considered to be the best when it comes to stitching knit fabrics. These stitches are flexible enough and move along with your fabric.

All sewing machines have the standard zig-zag stitch. Hence, if you are struggling to choose a stitch, you can always fall back to the standard zig-zag stitch. However, the best part of the latest or modern sewing machines is that you have much variety to choose from.

You might come across many unique or different kinds of stitches that you may not be aware of. It is best to rely on the instruction manual provided to you by the brand in such circumstances. Let us have a quick look at some points here.

– Before you plan on using the standard zig-zag stitch, always ensure that you have the right presser foot. Using the wrong presser foot won’t give you the desired results.

Additionally, there are high chances of you breaking the needle if you happen to use the wrong presser foot. If you need to identify the right foot, it has an oval hole that allows the needle to move right to the left.

– If you need professional quality seams for your projects, all you need to do is dial the needle slowly. This will help you with achieving the right and clean finish.

The standard zig-zag stitch is the best choice that you can use for stretchy fabrics. However, make sure not to move or stretch the fabric too much, as that can make your stitches have an uneven finish.

Furthermore, it is recommended that you perform smaller zig-zag stitches as they offer higher flexibility.

Though longer zig-zag stitches are also durable, they do not have much flexibility.

#2. The Twin Needle Stitch

In the twin needle stitch, you make use of two needles for the same. The twin needle has an elongated holder at the top with two needles that lie parallel.

It is a unique kind of needle that helps you to stitch stretchy or knit fabrics.

Also, in the case of knit fabrics, it is recommended that you use a ballpoint needle.

Ballpoint needles are commonly called Jersey needles. The thing that differs it from a normal pointed needle is that it has a rounded tip.

This special needle is effectively used to gently separate the thread from the fabric rather than destroy it.

While the bobbin thread performs a zig-zag stitch on the cloth’s interior, the ballpoint needles will perform a straight stitch on the exterior.

This stitch is quite a stretchy and flexible one, making it a perfect choice for knit fabrics. At the same time, the stitch is also beautiful to look at.

If you need to make a hem on a knit fabric, then this is the best type of stitch that you should go ahead with.

Many users find the twin needle stitch to be more appealing than the standard or basic zig-zag stitch. Hence, you can choose between these stitches to which one works better for you and your projects.

#3. The Triple Zig Zag Stitch

If you wish for a much more effective and stronger stitch, then the triple zig-zag stitch is exactly what you need. This is quite a popular stitch, which is again commonly used for stretchy or knit fabrics.

Additionally, this stitch is mostly used for outdoor gear, tents, kites, and other outdoor items. Since these outdoor items need to be extra durable and strong, the triple zig-zag stitch is what comes in handy.

They can withstand heavy rains, storms, or winds. Similarly, another garment that makes use of this triple zig zag is the underwear. Underwears are one type of garment that we often move up and down.

In such a case, if you happen to choose a less flexible stitch, the stitches will fall apart soon. However, a triple zig-zag stitch offers the right amount of strength and is an excellent stitch that is hard to break.

Furthermore, this stitch is also quite common in babywear or kids’ wear. As their clothes are the ones that endure a lot of activity, the stitches need to be pretty strong to hold the fabric or material together.

Tips And Sewing Machine Settings For Sewing Stretchy And Knit Fabrics

Many people feel that you need to own a serger machine for working with knit fabrics or stretchy fabrics.

However, let us clear up this myth and tell you that you need not necessarily have a serger machine for knit fabrics.

Though it can be nice to have a serger machine for the same, it is unnecessary anyway. While the serger machine can be an expensive investment, you can also use the regular sewing machine for sewing stretchy fabrics.

The only difference between using a regular sewing machine and a serger machine is that sewing a stretchy fabric can take up a lot of your time. Hence, it is not an impossible task.

If you have the time and patience to spend on a regular machine, nothing is stopping you.

Now let’s glance at some tips and tricks to help you get the best results sewing a stretchy fabric using a regular sewing machine.

  1. Make sure that you do not stretch the material while you work with it. You can sure loosen the fabric a bit for a good finish. However, it should not be tightened up while you sew on a regular sewing machine. This can give you uneven finishes and an undesirable result.
  2. When you work with any fabric, make it a point to wash them before sewing them. Especially when you work with knit fabrics or stretchy fabrics, you need to wash them well. This will give you an idea of the material if there is any shrinkage. Elastic fabrics do tend to shrink after washing. Hence, if you go ahead to sew without washing, they can later give you an unappealing look. It will also loosen out the fabric and the stitches, which is not what you would want.
  3. To get the right measurements and cuttings, you must have ample space for the same. Make sure that your table is wide enough to hold the entire fabric to avoid stretching.
  4. When working with stretchy fabrics, it is best to use ballpoint needles for greater effectiveness. This will give you a cleaner finish and even seams.
  5. When using the latest sewing machines, be aware of the numerous stitches that they offer. Many modern machines offer close to 100 stitches. Hence, be aware of the stitches that are compatible with knit fabrics.
  6. Make sure you have the right presser foot while working with stretchy fabrics.
  7. If you happen to use the twin needle stitch, have an adequate amount of thread for access as the stitch needs more thread at once.

What are the different types of stretchy fabrics?

Many types of stretchy fabrics are available today. While some fabrics have a 2-way stretching, others have a 4-way stretching.

  • Jersey: Jersey materials are stretchable about 30% and are very comfortable to wear. They are extremely lightweight and are used for upper wear garments like t-shirts.
  • Double Knit: If this is your first stretchy material, then this is going to be an easy one. It has a medium weight and is usually used for leggings.
  • Lycra and Spandex: Though this material can be uncomfortable for some, it is known to stretch about 30%-50%. It is used for t-shirts and is on the thicker side.

How to sew stretchy fabric without puckering?

There are many tips and tricks you can use to sew stretchy fabrics without puckering. However, one of the safest options is to use a zig-zag stitch. Furthermore, other sleeve tricks include using a polyester thread or a twin needle for the same.

Your choice of needle, thread, and stitches play an important role in sewing fabrics. If you happen to choose the best, you can be sure of achieving the desired results.

Also, you can make use of a cover stitch machine or a tissue to avoid puckering.