Stretch Stitch: Sewing Tip

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Honestly, when it comes to sewing with knits, a trusty serger machine will make quick work of your task.  If you don’t have a serger, don’t worry.  There are many stitches on your standard machine that will help you conquer this fabric, including the Stretch Stitch!

Stretch Stitch is your friend!


Stretch Stitch Sewing | The Sewing Loft

With this simple stitch you can not only join seams but create beautiful hemlines.  The stretch stitch allows for the fabric to give when pressure is applied.  Without it, your thread would snap and break leaving you with a hole.

The stretch stitch is sometimes referred to as a triple stretch stitch. That name refers to the 3 overlapping stitches.  These stitches allow for the knit to stretch and the thread to flex. When using this stitch, the needle position is located to the left.  Personally, I like to adjust the position to the right. This can be done very easily.  Please refer to your machine manual for further instructions.

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  1. Heather, thanks for the reminder about the stretch stitch. Owning a serger makes me forget about the existence of some really useful stitches on the sewing machine.

  2. Ronda Halvorsen-Ferns says

    Thanks Heather I shared it with some FB friends, love your tutorials! @Samina I always do the same thing now that I have my Evolution….. But got myself in a bind the other day going wild with the serger and cut off way tooo much allowance..

  3. I just got my first sewing machine. It is a basic singer, how do I set the stich with just the basic round knob?

  4. Dee Dee Carter (@deedeecarter) says

    I know this was a while ago, but what type of needle would you use? Do you need a special knit needle or would a universal work? I’m still teaching myself the art of sewing so I really appreciate bloggers like you making this information readily available!

  5. Penny Oosterman says

    and, on some stretch items like fleece, you might want to lengthen your stitch and lighten up your tension..

  6. Dianne Tillman Reed says

    Bless you! Bless you! Bless you! I want to make an animal print dress out of some expensive material but didn’t want it to look cheaply made or unraveling as I walked. This helps so much!

  7. This stitch can be extremely difficult to “unstitch”. There are other options.

  8. Thanks for your post. A new machine after 40 years, couldn’t find what a stretch stitch was. A triple stitch. Thanks

    • Patty Pritchett says

      By “triple stitch”, do you mean the wide zig zag that is made up of three stitches for each zig or zag? My machines are good sturdy ones, and they have an assortment of zig zag stitches, but the machines were made before knit fabric was an option for home sewers. None of the instructions in the manual indicate which of the stitches is appropriate for knits. My machine does not have the “lightening bolt” stitch.

      • Patty Pritchett says

        It would be helpful too to see an example of the stitch you mention in the original post. If it is the picture with the pink fabric, it doesn’t make sense to me as it doesn’t look like a stretch stitch. It just looks like someone stitched the same straight seam three times. Color me confused.

        • Hello Patty,
          Sorry to hear that you are confused but yes, the triple needle stitch looks very similar to stitching 3 rows close together. While sewing, the feeddogs move the fabric back and forth while shifting slightly to create this stitch. It allows for the thread and fabric to stretch together. Be sure to check your manual to see if your machine offers this stitch.

      • A wide zig zag is a completely different stitch. It is created by moving the needle from side to side while walking along the fabric. This stitch type is also helpful/useful when sewing with knits.

  9. sewing à la carte says

    My Pfaff has this stitch too and it’s really one of my favorites. I also use this for topstitching.

  10. In sted of a stretch stich you can choose a thin zig zag. This will allow for a little ease.

  11. Rose Ferraro says

    My stretch stitch cannot be adjusted. It is only one length, unfortunately. Do some machines have adjustable stretch stitch?

    • Hello Rose,
      Thank you for your note. My machines do have the ability to adjust this stitch length but every machine is different. You can also use a zig zag stitch to help accommodate stretch fabric.

  12. Someone random says

    Thank you for this post and still having it online 5 years after posting! I honestly thought I would need a double needle for finishing hems with a straight stitch before I read your post. This really helped me a lot!!

  13. Thank you

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