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Tips on how to sew mesh inserts

How to sew mesh inserts

I love adding mesh inserts to my garments! Even more so than I thought, which I realized when I began looking through my archive for photos of projects with mesh inserts.

Anyways, through trials and tribulations I’ve learnt a few tricks and tips when it comes to sewing mesh inserts. So here is a primer of how to sew mesh inserts on garments.

How to sew mesh inserts


Mesh inserts are great for areas where you transpire

Placing them under the arms, in the back or behind the knees are great ways to utilize the breathing properties of mesh

How to sew mesh inserts

Softer mesh is usually better for inserts

If you are adding mesh to a knit garment, the mesh should have the same properties, i.e. being soft and stretchy. For this silk jersey a soft mesh for the ruched sleeves was perfect, as it drapes nicely

Sew mesh seams with a serger or a stretch stitch on a regular sewing machine

Mesh is actually quite easy to sew, just make sure it doesn’t get stuck or jammed. It can also slip so basting first is a good idea.

Hemming mesh is however hard

Softer mesh tends to get stuck in the machine, so don’t try to stitch over it. If you place the mesh inserts around the knees or under the arms that won’t be an issue, but if the mesh is closer the ends of the garment, you could consider the following options:

How to sew mesh inserts

Finishing the mesh with ribbing

How to sew mesh inserts

Binding or fold-over elastic to cover the mesh edges

How to sew mesh inserts

Using small fabric edges for the hem

Here I added a small strip of fabric that I hemmed with a coverstitch. Was a bit fiddly but worked okay

Stitching down (topstitch) the mesh seams is a good idea

In the above photo I stitched the mesh seam with the wrong side of a 3-thread coverstitch seam. Seams can flop back and forth as we all know, and if the fabric is sheer they will be visible from the outside. So for the best result, stitch down the seams. However, this might cause the fabrics to stretch out, so I recommend using a coverstitch, twin-needle stitch, a walking foot, a sewing machine stretch seam or some other method to keep the fabric in check.

Mesh stitched down with a coverstitch machine

How to sew mesh inserts

Mesh stitched down with a stretch stitch on a regular sewing machine

How to sew mesh inserts

Mesh stitched down with a reverse 3-thread coverstitch

Be careful not to damage the mesh when sewing

Power mesh is generally very durable, but when you are sewing mesh it’s often exposed to sharp objects such as needles and scissors, which can cause tiny holes in the mesh. This happened on my latest mesh project, which was heartbreaking to say the least, because I didn’t discover the hole until the garment was finished. So I had to mend it by hand.

So that’s was my guide to sewing mesh inserts on garments. If you have any more questions, just ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!


  • PsychicSewerKathleen
    November 23, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Thank you Johanna! Great tips – I love the look of mesh too – not just on athletic wear. Can really spark up a plain shift or Tee and as you say too make it much cooler (which I like a LOT) 😉

    • Johanna
      November 23, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      Agree, they really lift the look of a simple garment and there are so many mesh colours and versions out there these days, so the possibilities are endless!

  • Summerflies
    November 23, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Thanks for these great tips. I love all your mesh inserts. Your active wear looks so professional. I also like to learn from others hard work.

    • Johanna
      November 23, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      Thank you! I do try my best to make it look somewhat similar to ready to made garments, without having access to professional tools. Sometimes it works out and sometimes not, but it’s the process that counts hopefully 🙂

  • Marianne
    February 11, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Hi Johanna, where do you buy your supplies in Sweden and what is mesh called in Swedish? Thanks

  • Casey Dubbs
    May 3, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    I am havin a hard time with mesh inserts on a leotard for my daughter. I am using a serger and after a few wears, fine elastic fibers are fraying from the mesh on the seams. Where the mesh meets the spandex it barel occurs, but the seems that are mesh to mesh are all hairy. What am I doing wrong?

    • Johanna
      May 4, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      Hmm, I usually attach mesh to spandex, so I have’t experience this. Do you use proper power mesh? That is more durable than the softer Helenka mesh which have frayed a bit for me too. Apart from that I’m not sure really, but I suspect that dance fabric sellers could offer some suggestions

    • Cora Copelan Lee
      March 21, 2022 at 11:01 pm

      Once this happens, do you know the best way to “trim” them? This happens with a lot of my daughter’s dance leotards. It really takes away from the look of the leo!

  • Tiny correction
    June 16, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Per-spire, not tran-spire (unless you are a member of the plant kingdom) 😉

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    July 29, 2017 at 6:17 pm

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  • Karey
    September 14, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Thanks for these tips. When I cycle in cold weather some parts of my legs need protection (eg thighs & calves so they are warm enough to work properly, ankles & knees cos they stay cold) while other bits get hot quick. Mesh inserts solve it. Just need to take notes when I’m on my bike so I remember where I need to put what lol.

    • Johanna
      September 15, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      Agree! I too get hot very easy in some places so it’s really nice to get ventilation in those places. Plus there are many forms of mesh out there these days, some with better coverage too, such as sports mesh

  • Angela Cooper
    October 11, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Can this be done by hand? I’m a pretty good hand sew(er) but I know nothing about sewing machines but I wanna add mesh to my yoga pants that I bought that’s a bit too conservative for my taste.

    • Johanna
      October 20, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      I would think that is possible. Hand stitching has some good stretch and with small enough stitches I say it could work since mesh won’t ravel!

  • Nicole
    April 5, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Can you double the layers of mesh in a panel to make it less see through? it is for a dress with panels on the side under the arm where you can see your bra.

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