Top Tips for Sewing Stretch Fabrics

Posted by Freya Gilbert
on May 23, 2022

Sewing stretchy fabrics.  Some people love it, some hate it! 

I hope to help you fall in to the 'love it' group with some tips for working with stretch fabrics.  This advice is mostly applied to knitted jersey fabrics but will also be true for woven fabrics with elastane content too.


First, know your different types of fabric.  Fabrics of different weights and compositions will behave differently, so consider the drape and stretch of your fabric even before you start cutting out.  Our blog post, demystifying jersey fabrics, will help you understand the differences in fabrics.

 Use Stretch Interfacing to add stability without removing all movement from the fabric.  The fibres are knitted together, just like the fabric.  This is perfect for adding a little more weight to areas like facings or button plackets.

Use the right needle!  A ballpoint or stretch needle has a rounded tip which pushes through the fibres of your fabric without breaking them.  This is super important, especially whit lighter weight fabrics, as broken threads can lead to laddering and will reduce the life span of the garment.



If you are using an overlocker to sew your fabric, test the differential speed on scraps first.  Set to low and you will stretch out your seams.  Set too high and the fabric will bunch up.

Understand and use the stretch percentage of your fabric to help know if you're using the right fabric for the project.  Some jersey fabrics have a low amount of stretch to them, due to their construction or fibre content.  You don't want to be using them for close fitting garments as they wouldn't fit over your head!

Lighter weight jersey fabrics can curl at the edges when its cut.  Use starch spray and fabric clips to hold the layers of fabric together and prevent rolling. 



Always prewash your fabric as jersey often shrinks in the first wash!

You need to be very careful when handling your jersey under the sewing machine, taking care not to let it stretch out.  Don't pull it through the machine, let the feed dogs to their job.

Check your machines settings and use a 'stretch stitch' to sew the jersey.  This is a narrow zigzag stitch, some machines have a 'lightening stitch' built in.  A stretch stitch allows the fabric to stretch at the seams as its being worn, avoiding snapping the threads and popping the seams open.

For narrow hems and edges, I always reach for the Wonder Tape. It's a tacky tape which holds the layers down while you sew for a delicate finish.  Then it washes out!  It makes hamming knit garments so easy!


You will find a beautiful range of jersey fabrics in our online shop!