As promised in my post on sewing seams in knits using a domestic sewing machine, here’s some tips on getting nice neat hems on your knits, all with the use of your sewing machine!
As with seams in knits, you need to choose a way of hemming your knit garment that will stretch. I’m going to show you my two favourite ways to hem knit fabrics on a sewing machine.
One of the stretchiest stitches to use on your sewing machine is the 3-step zig-zag (a stitch which even the most basic of sewing machines usually has):
The second way of hemming a knit fabric, is one that most looks like the hems on shop bought knit garments that are finished with a coverstitch (a completely separate machine a bit like an overlocker). Rather than rush out and buy a coverstitch machine try a bit of twin-needling on your sewing machine!
Twin needles are easily available and you can even get ballpoint twin needles – perfect for sewing knit fabrics without causing snags. Most good sewing shops will sell twin needles and there is even a choice of what size gap you have between the needles.
Replace your normal needle with the twin needle which inserts into your machine in exactly the same way, then set up your machine like this:
Then, sew as normal, but you must sew your hem from the right side of your garment so it’s a good idea to have your hem tacked first, then you can use your tacking stitches as a guide for your twin-needling to ensure you catch the hem on the wrong side.
And on the wrong side, the bobbin thread forms a sort of neat little zig-zag stitch. If you position your stitching accurately, the stitches should just cover the cut edge of your hem on the inside of the garment as shown above. It takes a bit of practice to get it that precise, but tacking your hem first helps!
As with seams, the tension needs to be correct for the type of knit you’re sewing, but most lighter weight knit fabrics eg. t-shirt jersey and lighter need a looser tension of around 3.
Depending on your fabric and your machine, you might find your hemmed edge going a bit wavy. First make sure you’re not stretching the fabric as you’re sewing! If you’re being good and not stretching your fabric (well done!), then if your sewing machine has the facility to, adjust the presser foot pressure and this should solve the problem. Read more about adjusting the preset foot pressurehere.
So, there you go, you now know how to sew seams and hems on your sewing machine so that they look neat and professional without the aid of an overlocker or coverstitch machine.
Enjoy sewing those lovely knit fabrics, you’ll wonder why you ever avoided them, I promise. If you need some help finding nice knitted fabrics have a read of my guide here and my range of sewing patterns (most of which are designed for knit fabrics and are very easy to use!) are available to buy online here.