How to sew sweater knits

Sewing KnitDo you want to stitch up cozy garments and accessories this winter using sweater knits? No worries; you don’t even need to know how to knit!

With the growing popularity of sweater knit fabrics, it’s easier than ever to find gorgeous sweater knits to fake the look of a hand knitted sweater.

Like other specialty fabrics, sweater knits require a little TLC. Here are few helpful hits we gathered up!

Identify the type of knit

Most sweater knits are considered a stretch fabric, however the amount of stretch varies greatly across the options. Sweater knits are available in a wide variety of fiber content, textures and weights. That being said, your sweater knit should fall into one of two categories: dense knit and open knit.

Dense knits will act like a heavy jersey fabric (but will unravel at a greater rate). Open knits require stabilizing. Either way, try to predict problems before they happen by test-sewing an unfinished edge.

Preparing your knit

Following the washing instructions on the bolt, pre-wash your knit. Most can be machine washed and dried, but there are some that say hand wash only. To prevent unraveling, serge or zigzag the unfinished edge before washing.

If you’re really not sure how to launder the knit, try it with a sample swatch first. Make sure you’re it’s a safe method before laundering the entire yardage.

Cutting and marking

Since knits are prone to stretching and distorting, use pattern weights instead of pins to all the fabric to lay flat and produce more accurate cutting. Use a rotary cutter as well — again, it prevents pulling on the knit.

For open-structure knits, you may also want to cut seam allowances a little larger than then pattern indicates.

Tip: Notches are impossible to see on fabrics like sweater knits. Instead, try using chalk or tailors tacks to mark notches.


Slow down and enjoy the process when sewing with sweater knits. Making sure each step is intentional and correct will reduce run ins with your seam ripper.

  • Reduce presser foot tension to avoid distorting fabric while sewing.
  • A walking foot is incredibly helpful with sweater knits – it will help prevent fabric from stretching out of shape when sewing. 
  • Use the correct needle. Ballpoint needles are best used for sweater knits. The rounded point penetrates the fabric without catching or cutting through the yarns. Choose a size that is appropriate for the weight of fabric. While a 80/12 may be perfectly suited to a wool jersey, heavier knits will need a larger needle.
  • Match the stretch to your stitch to the stretch of your fabric. If you knit is stable and densely knit, use a straight stitch and finish the edge with a zigzag stitch or serger. If working with an open knit with plenty of stretch use a stretch stitch or a serger.
  • When pressing, apply just the tip of the iron to the seam. If fabric is synthetic use your iron’s steam to flatten seams. Just hover your iron about an inch above your fabric using the steam function to relax seams.

Happy sewing!

Sources: Haley Glenn, Colette and Sew News

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Select the fields to be shown. Others will be hidden. Drag and drop to rearrange the order.
  • Image
  • SKU
  • Rating
  • Price
  • Stock
  • Availability
  • Add to cart
  • Description
  • Content
  • Weight
  • Dimensions
  • Additional information
Click outside to hide the comparison bar
Scroll to Top