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How to Sew Knits Without Serger

One of the questions I get asked most is 'can I sew knits without serger?'. Short answer: yes, you can! While I love using my serger, I don't shy away from sewing knits on my sewing machines - in fact, it allows me to get way more finishes and tackle more projects!

In this article, I will share 5 proven ways how you can sew knits using your sewing machine, without serger. These techniques work and give great results, so why not give them a try? Apply these techniques and expand your sewing range with knit fabrics!

This post is created in partnership with needle industry experts - Organ Needles.

Organ Needles are one of the leading brands in needle industry, with over 100 years of expertise in needle making.

Organ Needles have a wide range of products and you can find a right needle for any type of project that you have on hand - even for tricky materials like super stretch fabrics. I've been using Organ Needles for several years in all of my machines - industrial sewing machine, domestic sewing machine, embroidery machine and serger. It's easy to recommend them as I use them regularly and their needle quality speaks for itself!

IMPORTANT NOTE: to be able to sew knits on your sewing machine, you first need to change Universal needle to special Jersey needle.

Organ Needles Jersey needle

Organ Needles Jersey needle has a rounder tip that slips between fabric threads, instead of cutting through them, ensuring good seam quality and helps avoid skipped stitches. If you tried sewing knits before and got less-than-perfect seam results - it was likely due to wrong needle!

Organ Needles Combi needle pack and Jersey needles

You can find Organ Needles Jersey needles in separate packages or Combi packs, which carries a variety of needles for different fabrics.

Once you have right needle installed, we can tackle 5 ways to sew knits without serger!

5 ways to sew knits without serger

1st option: use stretch/elastic stitches on your domestic sewing machine. Most current domestic sewing machines have elastic stitch option (on my Singer Heavy Duty 4423 model, elastic stitches are selected by using 'S' mode on Stitch length dial).

When machine is in elastic stitch mode, instead of regular straight stitch, it creates triple straight stitch, thus giving seam its elasticity. Some machines even have mock-overlock seam!

Elastic straight seam and mock-overlock seam

2nd option: use zigzag stitch. This is a common way to sew knits, especially when it comes to swimwear or lingerie. Important thing to note here is to use narrow zigzag (2mm width or less) - wider zigzag will cause seam to 'open up' from the garment inside!

3rd option: stretch fabric when sewing. The idea is simple: stretch fabric, hold it and sew with regular straight stitch. Once you release the fabric, it 'jumps' back to it's position and once you stretch fabric again - the seam won't pop. This might sound a bit too easy to be true, but it works! In fact, this is a popular way to sew knits by professional seamstresses, who use industrial straight stitch machines!

4th option: use elastic thread. This thread has more elasticity than standard sewing thread, so it won't break when stretched. Using it is as simple as it gets: put elastic thread to top and bobbin and sew with standard straight stitch. That's it, as easy as it gets!

5th option: use twin needle. Twin needle is a great substitute for coverlock machine. From right side of the garment, it creates two rows of stitches and from inside of the garment it creates a zigzag that gives seam its elasticity.

Seam made using Organ Needles Twin Stretch needle

Use twin needle to sew hems on knit garments, swimwear, lingerie or apply elastic bias binding. Note that twin needles come in different formats - standard and stretch. To sew knit fabrics, make sure to use stretch twin needle!

Elastic hem, made using Organ Needles Twin Stretch needle

When choosing twin needle, pay attention that it comes not only in different sizes, but also different widths between needles, which will give your seam different looks!

Organ Needles Twin Stretch needle comes in 2.5mm and 4mm widths

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and learning about ways to sew knits without serger. You might also enjoy watching this video, which is all about mastering sewing knits:

Wishing you creative weekend,


1 Comment

Elena Rosefin
Elena Rosefin
Nov 21, 2023

thank you, I have bought some of needles you advised here. I am interested how to sew with double needle.

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