T-Shirt and Knit Fabric Hems
There are other ways to hem a T-shirt or knit fabric without using a twin needle. (To learn how to hem a T-shirt with a twin needle, read our blog here.)
You’ll need a “stretch, ballpoint” needle in your machine. This special needle is designed for sewing on knits. The slightly rounded, or ballpoint needle tip eliminates fabric needle punctures and skipped stitches.
Use a stitch guide to keep hemstitching straight and even. (To learn how to make a stitch guide, read our blog here.)
For best results, test hemstitching method of choice on a scrap of the T-shirt you are working with before sewing on your project. If the presser foot pushes fabric ahead, you’ll need to reduce the presser-foot pressure (refer to machine manual for instructions). Practice stitching on scraps until desired hem finish is flat and smooth.
For each of the knit hemstitching techniques, prepare T-shirt knit for hemming by turning under the hem allowance, pressing and pinning it in place. All hems are stitched with the outside of the T-shirt facing up. Remove pins before needle reaches them.
Straight Stitch Hem
Set machine for a straight-stitch, 10-12 stitches per inch (2.5mm setting). Stitch on right side of T-shirt 1/4" from hem allowance edge, stretching fabric slightly as you sew. Add a second row of stitching, again stretching while sewing, 1/8" to 1/4" from first row. Steam hem, if needed, to eliminate ripples. Stretching the knit fabric as you sew will help to prevent popped stitches when garment is stretched.
TIP: Practice stitching on a T-shirt fabric scrap to determine how much you need to stretch fabric as you sew.
Set machine for a 3.5 mm wide, 1.4 mm long zigzag-stitch. Zigzag stitch on right side of T-shirt 1/4" from hem allowance edge. Do not stretch fabric as this causes ripples. Allow fabric to feed under needle without stretching. The zigzag stitch has built-in stretch.
TIP: If fabric ripples while stitching sample, reduce presser-foot pressure.
Multistep Zigzag Hem
Set machine for 3.5 mm wide, 1.4 mm long multi-step zigzag-stitch. Zigzag stitch on right side of T-shirt 1/4" from hem allowance edge. Do not stretch fabric. The multistep zigzag stitch has built-in stretch and is ideal for stitching knits and elastic. (Not all machines have multistep stitches. Refer to machine manual.)
Set machine for 2.5mm long stretch-stitch. (Triple stretch-stitch is shown.) Topstitch on right side of T-shirt 1/4" from hem allowance edge. Add a second row of stitching 1/8" to 1/4" from first row. Stretch stitches are ideal for sewing on knits as they build stretch into the stitching. Not all machines have multistep stitches. Refer to machine manual.
TIP: Stretch stitches are difficult to remove. Practice on a fabric scrap before stitching on your project.