How To Hem Stretch Fabric With A Sewing Machine

Those who want to learn how to hem stretch fabric with a sewing machine can consider three hem techniques. Find out what they are in this article to know which to select for your project. We’ll also discuss other tips to make hemming easy on elastic materials.

Are you also curious about hemming garments? Feel free to browse our blog for tutorials like how to hem a skirt with a sewing machine.

how to hem stretch fabric with a sewing machine


How To Hem Stretch Fabric With A Sewing Machine Easily


Twin needle hem

The most common way to hem stretchy garments is with a double needle. The result looks professionally done, and it’s also relatively quick once you get the hang of it. The twin needle hem is also an alternative if you don’t have a coverstitch machine, but want a somewhat similar look and stretch on the knitted garment.

  1. Check your sewing machine if it is compatible with a twin needle
  2. Insert and thread the twin needle accordingly or read this tutorial on how to use a double needle on a sewing machine to familiarize yourself with this needle type 
  3. Set the sewing machine to a straight stitch with the appropriate length and width to your knitted project
  4. Make the hem as usual


Zigzag stitch hem

If you’re a beginner intimidated by hemming knits, especially for the first time, use a zigzag stitch hem with a single fold. You won’t need fancy accessories and a particular sewing machine for this stitch type. However, be mindful of using this hem with cotton spandex as it’s prone to going wavy. 

  1. Set the sewing machine to narrow zigzag
  2. Press the seam allowance, and if possible, serge the edge to keep the hem flat
  3. Sew the hem as usual, but do not stretch the fabric, or the hem will grow and go wavy

We wrote a tutorial on how to serge with a sewing machine if you don’t have a serger. 


Straight stitch hem

The zigzag stitch is not the only stitch you can do with a single fold hem. It will also work for hemming slightly stretchy fabric. But, of course, it is also easy to do regardless of your sewing ability. 

  1. Set the sewing machine to straight stitch with a good stitch length
  2. Finish the raw edge of the material accordingly
  3. Press up and stitch the hem 


What Sewing Machine Stitch Is Best For Stretchy Fabric?

The twin-needle, zigzag, and straight stretch stitch are best for sewing stretch materials. This is because they will stretch with the fabric, which means it’s less likely for them to break or pucker up. The straight stitch will surprisingly work for sewing stretchy fabrics, but remember to avoid pulling the material. 

The best sewing machine stitch for stretchy fabrics such as knits is the zigzag. In particular, you want its length to be the same as the width to get a narrow zigzag. But more than the stitches mentioned, you can also do the overedge stitch since it locks over the fabric edge to finish the seam in one pass. 


Can You Hem Stretchy Material?

You can hem stretchy material with ease using the following techniques:

  1. A wide zigzag stitch is suitable for hemming stretchy material, while its narrow counterpart is best for sewing seams 
  2. Fold the raw edge over according to the pattern, then press the hem if it’s cotton or cotton blend, but never with Spandex that can melt
  3. Turn the hem over once since you’re hemming a stretchy knit fabric, while woven fabrics are best done with a double hem
  4. Use a wide zigzag stitch on the raw edge and test your stitch settings on scrap fabric before hemming
  5. Do not stretch the fabric when sewing, and try a length of 3.0 and width of 4.0 for your zigzag stitch settings
  6. Press the hem and add hemming tape if there is puckering
  7. Press the tape on the wrong side of the hem and fold the hem by half an inch
  8. Press the hem and zigzag across it to catch the raw edge
  9. Press the hem to finish 


What Thread Do I Use For Stretchy Fabric?

Use textured polyester or nylon thread when sewing stretch fabrics such as knits. Textured treads are even best for seams because they can match the elasticity needed. You can also check specific thread brands if you expect your project to undergo heavy usage and washes. 


What Thread Tension Should I Use For Stretchy Fabric?

Stretch fabric can be sewn with a thread tension set between 3 to 4. However, you should test your setting on a practice stretch fabric and adjust accordingly. Do note that this setting is for the upper thread. 


How Do You Sew Stretchy Fabric Without Puckering?

Using the right stitch, needle, and thread will keep the stretchy fabric from puckering. You also want to avoid pulling on the fabric when sewing. To stabilize the material, try placing a tissue that the needle can hit before the fabric itself. 



Was this article helpful? To recap how to hem stretch fabric with a sewing machine, you can use the twin needle, zigzag, and straight stitch for the hem of elastic materials like knits. We also recommend using the right needle and settings such as tension, stitch width, and stitch length when hemming stretch fabrics. 

Let us know any questions below if you have any. 


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