Sewing knits / Video

Video: How to hem knits with a regular sewing machine

In this video sewing tutorial I share eight tips on how to hem knits on a regular sewing machine, going through everything from how to keep the fabric from stretching out and getting wobbly to how to sew curved hems and avoid skipped stitches. Some suggestions might sound a bit crazy, but they all work, and often times I find a combination of several tricks and hacks will produce the best result when hemming stretchy knits on a sewing machine. Apart from the eight suggestions in the video, I can’t stress enough the importance of making samples before you start hemming your knit garment. And once you found the perfect settings and tools for this particular fabric, write them down and keep for future reference. The knit samples used in the video are a super stretchy rayon/lycra jersey and a very dense poly/lycra activewear fabric.

If you have more tips on to how hem knits I would love to know! Please share in the comment section!


Notions for hemming knits mentioned in the video

Needles for knits

I use Schmetz ball point needles and twin needles (Amazon affiliate links)  and like them a lot. I’m sure there are many other brands that are great too, but this is the best brand that is available in Sweden.

Clear elastic for stabilizing curved hems

Use a clear elastic that is thin (not the bra strap variety) but still has a some stability and doesn’t break easily. Some clear elastic is so flimsy and delicate which makes it impossible to work with.


I’m using Prym wondertape, which is also called Dritz wondertape. Another option is Collins wondertape ( Amazon affiliate links)

Fusible interfacing

Any good quality, thin fusible that has great one-way stretch will work. Do not use the thicker stretch knitted fusible for hemming, it will make the fabric too bulky.

Paper stabilizer

Best option is a thinner water soluble stabilizer or tear-away. But tissue paper works well too, just a bit fiddly to tear away. Whatever material you use it’s important that it is thin, so that there will be no gaping in the stitches

Now sewing knits on a regular sewing machine is a big topic, and if you are interested I could do a similar video on how to sew the side seams on stretchy knits in the future. Also, if you are getting into sewing knits and want to learn more, here comes four book recommendations:

The best book on sewing knits

Sewing with knits by Connie Long (Amazon affiliate link)

This is the bible in my humble opinion. Each page is packed to the max with information and I could talk all day about the content of this book, because it is so extensive, but to name a few: The book has very thorough guides on neckline finishes, instructions on how to make swimwear, tips on hemming various material, sewing novelty fabrics such as stretch velvet and chenille and helpful techniques on how to attach zippers to knit fabrics. A little bit dated and lacks info on activewear and stretch lace, but apart from that it is excellent.

A good book on sewing knits

Sew Knits with Confidence by Nancy Zieman  (Amazon affiliate link)

Another solid book on how to sew with knits, including many useful tips and some interesting projects too. The focus of this book is more on the assembly side and understanding how to do various techniques on knits, which means that it is a little less technical than Sewing with knits by Conny Long. What I love the most about this book is that Nancy does a fantastic job explaining techniques and she clearly knows her stuff.

A beginner’s book on sewing knits

The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits by Alyson Clair (Amazon affiliate link)

This book does a good job explaining the basics and how use the most common sewing techniques. There is also a chapter devoted to fitting knit patterns. This book would be a great choice for a beginner, but someone who already has some experience and is looking for more in depth info on knits might be disappointed. There are some areas which are more extensive than a normal beginner book, such has how to cut the fabric. But for the most part, this book is more of an introduction to knits rather than a bible. Nothing wrong with that, and if you love an attractive layout and less text dense pages, this is also a great choice.

A book on sewing knits that I don’t own but have heard good things about

Knit for real people by Palmer/Neall (Amazon affiliate link)


  • Andrea
    January 8, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Thank you so much for all the information you displayed. I usually get less than satisfactory hems using a double needle. I’ll try your tips to see if I can improve my hems-

    • Johanna
      January 9, 2017 at 8:04 am

      You’re welcome! Just start experimenting and see what works for your particular machine and fabric. I’ve found tweaking the settings on the machine has really helped making the twin needle seam be more flat with less tunneling, but at least for me I also need to use some stabilizing hacks like the ones in the video to keep stretchy fabrics in check.

  • Susan
    January 9, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Thanks for these tips; I feel confident my knit hems will improve!

    • Johanna
      January 10, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Happy to hear that you found it useful. A combination of tricks is usually what will yield the best result, just do samples to see which ones that works the best

  • PsychicSewerKathleen
    January 9, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Since I bought my coverstitch machine I haven’t used a twin needle once 🙂 I keep them in case I want to do one of my fancy stitches in the future using a twin needle for effect. I loved your tip about feeding the fabric with an awl or some other tool so it matches the feeding being done underneath by the feed dogs! That was brilliant and I’ll be using that method for all sorts of things when I can’t use my walking foot (because of wanting to use my blindhem or edge stitching foot for example). Thanks again for a great post Johanna!

    • Johanna
      January 10, 2017 at 9:26 am

      Same here! Once you get a coverstitch machine there is no going back really. But I can feel the struggle of those are left with just a twin needle for all their knit hemming, it is not always the most straight forward tool, even though it is usually the best option for sewing machines.


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