Sew, Stretch, and See [sewing stretch seams and hems]

Sewing Stretch Seams and Hems Sew4bub

I have a kids knit collection due out in Feb (I am super excited about the collection so stay tuned for sneak peeks) so I have been sewing with knits A. LOT. lately.

I know knits can be a bit tricky for beginners, so in a bid to help you guys get the best results possible, I have been testing out some techniques and equipment for sewing knits with your home sewing machine.

My usual go-to is the double needle, and if the fabric is particularly cantankerous I may go to the walking foot as well (if you are not familiar with these there is some info in this post, as well as some other great knit tips). But I have been reading a bit lately about the joys of stretch thread, and I was interested to see the results.

After some searching, it became evident that the Maxi-lock stretch thread is not readily available in Australia, woolly nylon thread, though, is easy enough to get, so I thought I would give that a try.

Woolly Nylon, being a bit woolly-er than stretch thread is a bit too fluffy to use as your top thread as it can tangle easily. It is, however, easy enough to use on your bobbin thread. I have seen some people suggesting that you hand wind your bobbin, but I wound mine as I would any other thread and had no problems with tension.

I was dubious that it would allow the same amount of stretch as using a double needle. I was surprised at the results.

Sewing Stretch Seams and Hems Sew4bub

By way of a control, here are the results of using a walking foot and a double needle – happy with that amount of stretch for a hem, not likely to break any stitches during normal wear.

Sewing Stretch Seams and Hems Sew4bub

What surprised me, though, is that woolly nylon on the bobbin thread had almost as much stretch. This is just a regular straight stitch. I would also consider this plenty of stretch for a hem, and not likely to break any stitches during normal wear.

Next, I thought I would repeat the experiment without the walking foot.

Sewing Stretch Seams and Hems Sew4bub

Here is the result using a regular foot with a double needle. You can see that there are some waves in the seam after sewing but after ironing the fabric recovered, and the stretch in the seam was good.

Sewing Stretch Seams and Hems Sew4bub

But again, almost exactly the same amount of stretch in the seam sewn with a regular straight stitch and woolly nylon bobbin thread.

I was pleasantly surprised here, and glad to be adding another option to my stretch sewing arsenal.

A couple of things that I found worthy of note:

  1. This fabric has very good recovery (I think it has a bit of lycra in it). A stretch fabric with poorer recovery may not have as favorable results after pressing when using a regular foot. It is always best to test a few techniques on scraps of your fabric before you sew your garment.
  2. The walking foot, although it stops you from having a wobbly seam, it does result in slightly less stretch in your final seam than the regular foot.


So, as usual, thanks for reading, and I hope this helps

Liz xx

8 thoughts on “Sew, Stretch, and See [sewing stretch seams and hems]

  1. Pingback: Use Wooly Nylon for stretch seams on a regular sewing machine – Sewing

  2. Thanks for these great tips! I use woolly nylon in my serger but I never thought to use it in my sewing machine! I love the look of woolly nylon so much and using it in the bobbin with right side down of course could add a nice look especially with a double needle. The fact that it adds stretch too is a bonus!

  3. Sounds good to me too. Does the woolly nylon work for seams too?

    But a question: if you are making lots of clothes, why don’t you have an overlocker/serger with a cover stitch to do your hems? Not a criticism, just curious.

    • Hi, thanks for reading, and for the questions. The wooly nylon would work for seams too as the stretch is pretty good.

      As far as a coverstitch machine goes, I design sewing patterns for home sewists/seamstresses and the vast majority don’t have a coverstitch machine so my designs need to have a finish that is achievable on a home sewing machine.


  4. Pingback: Super Summer Swim Bottoms [FREE Pattern] | Sew 4 Bub

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