How To Sew Stretch Fabric By Hand (2023)

Stretch fabric is the coziest of all textiles available in the market. You only need the needle and thread in your hand, a pair of scissors, a stretchy material, and then you can sew different patterns and stitches on it. Read on to know how to sew stretch fabric by hand.

How To Sew Stretch Fabric By Hand


  • How To Sew Stretch Fabric By Hand
  • What Is A Stretch Fabric?
  • Steps To Sew Stretch Fabric By Hand?
  • Benefits Of Hand Sewing
  • What Is A Stretch Stitch?
  • Can You Use Straight Stitch On A Stretch Fabric?
  • What Stitch Should You Use For A Stretchy Material?

Even though you are used to stitching with a sewing machine, some stitches need to be hand-sewn for immediate purposes, like a popped out button of a shirt. And sometimes, it can also mean following your passion. It would help if you knew which stitches would suit best for a piece of stretchy fabric. Stitches that stretch are the ones you will use for sewing a knit fabric.

What Is A Stretch Fabric?

How To Sew Stretch Fabric By Hand (1)

The name itself is self-explanatory. A stretch fabric is a synthetic textile type that stretches more than any other regular material available in the market. It is so because of the presence of the elastic fiber in it. These stretchy cloth materials are also popularly known as knit or woven fabrics. Elastane, spandex, lycra, etc. are categorized under this type of cloth.

The stretchy material can either be a 4-way stretch that can be stretched horizontally and vertically and a 2-way stretch. The materials with only 2-way stretch ability are comparatively heavier fabrics.

Garments made of stretch fabrics are in trend and are preferred for several other purposes like active wear, sportswear, etc. People prefer this material because they like the comfort these fabrics have to offer and the softness they bring along with them. Also, these materials take the body’s shape and are a favorite choice for those who want to flaunt their assets.

Steps To Sew Stretch Fabric By Hand?

How To Sew Stretch Fabric By Hand (2)

Hand sewing on a stretch fabric can be challenging, but if you have a passion for stitching or sewing a garment for yourself or your loved ones, it will not feel like one. Either way, hand sewing will take a longer time than using a sewing machine. We have rounded up a step by step process to help you understand how to sew a knit fabric with your hands. Without much ado, let us take a look at the steps below.

Step 1: You have to take a needle of the correct size and type for the fabric you are about to start stitching on. The needle matters a lot because your stitches’ quality will depend on it, and also, it will affect the material. A fine needle should do just fine for a knit fabric.

Step 2: After you have chosen the needle, you need to pick the appropriate thread type. Although there is no specific type of thread that has to be used for a piece of stretchy fabric, a regular polyester thread will do the trick for you. This type of thread has elasticity, which will make the stitches stretch along with the fabric. It would be best if you also selected a color that would match the material’s hues.

Step 3: Now, we will begin the action. First, you have to secure the thread to the fabric in your hand.

Step 4: Next, put the needle through a few threads of the material from left to right.

Step 5: Move to the right and insert the thread again. But, now from right to left, through a few threads of the garment’s hem.

Step 6: Gently pull the thread, but you have to be cautious not to tighten the stitch. The tightness should be enough to secure the stitching and that the thread does not come in the way of the other stitches. It would help if you kept in mind that the stitch’s tightness does not curl up the fabric or prevent it from stretching.

Step 7: Keep repeating the steps 3,4,5 and 6 until you have completed the entire hem.

Voila! You have made it. It was not that tough, after all. The stitch gets easy once you get the rhythm of it. Such a stitch can also be utilized to join two fabrics in a fancy way.

Benefits Of Hand Sewing

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Though it may seem tiring, hand sewing has its perks. We have listed down a few of the benefits of sewing with your hands below. Let us take a look.

  1. Better Coordination

There is no denying that when you are sewing with your hand, you use your fingers and brain, and only the equal coordination of these two body parts will deliver the results you desire. This skill is also valuable for children to hone their developing skills and keep their minds and bodies healthy. Sewing with the hand is also known to keep dementia at bay in the long run.

  1. Better Control

How To Sew Stretch Fabric By Hand (4)

Stitching with your hand provides better control over things. While sewing in a machine, at times, you cannot control certain things like breaking a needle by forgetting to remove it from its place, or some mechanical problem, etc. But if you hand sew, you never have to worry about all such issues and be more cautious of the things’ whereabouts.

  1. Portability

Stitching with your hand offers you the option of better portability. You can take it anywhere you want and keep sewing in any position you like. The things you will need by your side are the needle, the thread, a pair of scissors, and the material to stitch on. You would be rid of the burden of taking out your machine and sitting in a fixed position until you are done with the stitching.

  1. Good For Delicate Fabric

If you plan to stitch on a delicate knit fabric, then hand sewn is a much better option to go with. These fabrics are prone to stretching or curling up or warping and can be taken better care of when dealt with your own hands. A sewing machine with its edges and the accessories may harm the material for good and ruin your garment.

  1. Inexpensive

The beneficial feature of stitching with your hands is the fact that it is less expensive. It will cost you less than half the cost of what it requires to buy a sewing machine, the accessories it needs, like a table, etc. and the price for its maintenance. On the other hand, sewing with your hand will only need a pack of needles, scissors, and threads.

What Is A Stretch Stitch?

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The standard stitch you will require to sew on a stretchy fabric is known as a stretch stitch. A zigzag stitch falls under this category because it allows the stitches to stretch along with the fabric. It does not force the stitch on the material and will enable it to breathe. The zigzag stitch keeps the shape of the material intact and does not prevent the fabric from stretching.

Can You Use Straight Stitch On A Stretch Fabric?

There is no hard and fast rule that you cannot use a straight stitch on a stretchy material, but it would help if you used stretchable stitches. Stretch material is delicate, and it requires stitches that will not break and pucker and not harm the fabric. A zigzag stitch is an appropriate choice for such materials. However, if you want to sew with a straight stitch, you have to hold the material tightly without pulling it.

What Stitch Should You Use For A Stretchy Material?

To sew on a stretchy material, you will need a stitch that moves along with the material and does not restrict it from stretching. The common stitches that you can use on a stretchy material are a zigzag stitch, stretch stitch, 3 step zigzag, lightning stitch, and though not preferable, a straight stitch is applicable. These stitches are stretchable, too, and do not impose itself harshly on the material.


Is there a trick to sewing stretchy fabric? ›

If a fabric stretches as you sew, try lifting your presser foot every few inches. Intermittently raising the feed foot reduces the pressure on your stitches and can stop knit fabric distorting. Some sewing machines allow you to reduce the presser foot pressure using a dial.

What is the best hand sewing stitch for stretchy fabric? ›

Stretch stitch/herringbone stitch

I like to call it a hand stretch stitch because it works so well with stretchy fabrics. (The seam won't pop and break like a straight stitch will when sewn on knit fabrics). You can also use it for hemming and decorative embroidery and quilt making.

What is the best hand stitch for spandex? ›

Overcasting (or Knit) Stitch - this is a great stitch for stretch because it both makes a clean unbroken seam line and creates a wider stitch that finishes the edge of the fabric. It also lays really flat, allows for a lot of stretch, and is great for stitching spandex and other very stretchy fabrics.

How do you hand sew stretchy fabric without puckering? ›

Reducing the pucker therefore requires controlling the stretch in the fabric. To reduce the puckering, I take the following three simple steps when sewing seams: (1) use a walking foot to help ease the fabric into the sewing machine, (2) stabilize the fabric with tissue paper, and (3) press the seam after stitching.

What needle is best for stretch fabric? ›

A ballpoint or jersey needle is a large needle with a rounded tip. This ballpoint is designed to slide between the yarns of fabric without snagging, cutting or stretching the material out of shape. This makes it ideal for working with stretchy fabrics like knits and lycra.

What size needle do you use for stretch fabric? ›

Use the ball point needle when sewing on stretch fabrics or fabrics where skipped stitches easily occur. Use a 90/14 to 100/16 needle, regardless of the fabric or thread.

What stitch would you use if you need the strongest stitch by hand? ›

A backstitch is one of the strongest hand sewing stitches. The backstitch gets its name because the needle goes into the fabric behind the previous stitch. On the contrary, with a running stitch, the needle simply passes through the fabric an even distance in front of the previous stitch.

What is the strongest hand sewing stitch? ›

The backstitch is one of the strongest, most adaptable, and permanent hand stitches. It's also a bulk-free knot replacement for the beginnings and endings of hand-sewn seams. It's called a backstitch because the needle goes into the fabric behind the thread of the previous stitch.

What's the Stretchiest stitch? ›

Triple Zigzag (or Tricot) Stitch- like a regular zigzag made out of a straight stitch, this stitch is both stronger and stretchier. It's a good stitch for top stitching down things that need to stretch, but not as good for seams. It's used a lot on elastic and underwear.

What size needle do you use for spandex? ›

A standard sewing machine needle, size 11 or 14 can work well for Spandex. If your machine accepts them, you might also want to try a stretch needle, which is specially designed to prevent skipped stitches while sewing Spandex. Again use size 11 or 14.

What is the easiest hand stitch? ›

The running stitch is probably the easiest of all stitches and a great way to get kids started. My kids loved making little Lavender Bags and Heart Ornaments using this stitch. It is also great for when you need to GATHER fabric, such as when making these pinwheels or flower brooches.

Why is my stretch fabric puckering when I sew? ›

Excess thread tension

This is a common cause of stitch and seam puckering. If you have adjusted the tension settings on your sewing machine incorrectly it will prevent enough thread getting to the stitch. The thread will stretch to compensate as you stitch. This results in puckering and crumpling.

Can you sew stretch fabric with a normal needle? ›

Standard sewing machine needles will make visible holes in stretchy fabric, which will cause it to tear easily. Instead, you should use a stretch needle, which has a specifically designed point that helps prevent the fabric from snagging and tearing while using your sewing machine.

Can you sew stretch fabric without a stretch needle? ›

Choose the right needle – all stretchy knit fabrics should be sewn with a special needle; either a ballpoint or a stretch needle. A ballpoint needle consists of a rounded tip, which pushes the yarns away when sewing. It avoids damaging knit fabric while cutting and sewing.

Can you use a ballpoint needle for stretch fabric? ›

Ballpoint or Jersey - Ballpoint needles have a medium rounded point designed specifically for knit and stretch fabrics. The rounded point pushes through the fibres rather than piercing them. A ballpoint needle can be used when sewing most knits such as french terry, ribbing, interlock, double knits and fleece.

What size needle is best for hand sewing? ›

Use Sharps size 2, 3 and 4 for general sewing on medium to heavy fabrics. These sizes have a larger eye and therefore are easier to thread. Sharps in size 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are the most popular within the sharp family and they are commonly used for general sewing on light to medium fabrics.

What is the difference between a jersey needle and a stretch needle? ›

Jersey needles are even more rounded than stretch needles, and are more indicated for knits than for stretch wovens. As for Safran, a stretch needle will be perfect to sew it in stretch velvet, or if you notice that the spandex in your fabric is damaged by the universal needle.

What is different about a stretch needle? ›

Stretch needles

A stretch needle has what is called a 'scarf' which allows extra room for the hook to pass close by and prevents skipped stitches making it ideal for use with fabrics such as Lycra, power net, two way stretch knits, silk jersey, spandex and highly elasticated synthetic fabrics or indeed elastic itself.

What stitch is commonly used in hand sewing? ›

The running stitch is one of the most basic types of hand stitches, and it has many variations. It's used for gathering, mending, and tucking. Depending on its use, you can either knot your thread or take a couple of back stitches to lock it into place. In its longer form, it becomes a basting stitch.

What kind of stitch is considered as the easiest and quickest to do and it is perfect to make dashed outlines? ›

5. Running Stitch. A running stitch is a simple stitch that is perfect for making dashed outlines as well as small details.

What is the simplest in the quickest stitch to do? ›

The Running Stitch is the simplest and quickest of all embroidery stitches and creates simple lines and outlines. So many stitches use the running stitch as the basis, like the Whipped Stitch and Laced Stitch. As it name implies, the needle runs in and out of the material at regular intervals.

What kind of thread is best for hand sewing? ›

These include threads like embroidery floss and perle (or pearl) cotton. Both cotton threads, these are not used in sewing machines, but are perfect for a wide range of hand sewing projects, from crazy-quilting to need-painting. Embroidery floss is a "divisible" thread made of six strands which are easily separated.

What are the 5 basic hand stitches? ›

Start with one of these five basic stitches:
  • Cross-stitch. Commonly used for decorative purposes, the cross-stitch is X-shaped and arrayed like tiles.
  • Whipstitch. The thread spirals around the edge of one or both pieces of fabric. ...
  • Running stitch. ...
  • Ladder stitch. ...
  • Backstitch.
Mar 22, 2016

What is Flex stitch? ›

DESCRIPTION. Clarks Flex Stitch is a wearable wedge sandal that fuses a slingback strap and stylish stitched uppers in premium soft black leather to elevate every look. Perfect for summer, its flexible sole has a grippy rubber finish. Slingback strap with buckle closure.

What has the most stretch on a piece of fabric? ›

Spandex. Spandex fibers are very stretchy and can be blended together with other fibers at different ratios to produce a desired percentage of stretch. The blended fibers are then spun into the yarn that is used to knit or weave into fabric.

What stitch setting for spandex? ›

A narrow zigzag stitch works well for sewing spandex because it will provide slack that allows the spandex to stretch. Set your machine to the zigzag stitch and adjust the stitch length to 0.5 millimetres (0.020 in).

What tension should stretch fabric be? ›

To stitch your flexible fabric, you must use the correct tension setting. Ideally, a greater tension level of 2-3 is recommended for stretchy fabrics like lycra or elastane.

What thread to use for sewing spandex? ›

Tips for Sewing with Spandex
  1. Use Ball point or stretch needles and quality polyester thread.
  2. 4 thread overlock is the best way to sew seams but if you only have a regular machine use a zig zag stitch.
  3. Lycra does't fray so the edges can be left raw but for a more finished look turn up and use a twin needle or coverstitch.

What are the 4 basic hand stitches? ›

Sewing expert Kenneth D. King shows how to work four basic hand stitches: the running stitch; its variant, the uneven basting stitch; the backstitch; and the backstitch variant, the pickstitch.

What is the best stitch for beginners? ›


This is the most basic of all stitch patterns and is achieved by knitting every row. The end result is a flat, reversible, ridged fabric that stands up well to wear and does not roll at the edges.

What do you use to sew stretchy material? ›

Choose the right needle – all stretchy knit fabrics should be sewn with a special needle; either a ballpoint or a stretch needle. A ballpoint needle consists of a rounded tip, which pushes the yarns away when sewing. It avoids damaging knit fabric while cutting and sewing.

What is the best stitch for hand sewing knits? ›

A zigzag stitch is your #1 of best stitches for knits. There's very few situations where you won't get good results with a zigzag. It has a little give to it, so when you wear it, those stitches don't get stressed as the fabric stretches on your body.

Can you sew elastic thread by hand? ›

Elastic thread must be wound by hand onto the bobbin. Insert the thread end into the hole in the bobbin to secure it, then slowly wind the thread onto the bobbin without stretching the elastic thread. If you are doing a more than a few rows of stitching with elastic thread, wind several bobbins before you begin sewing.

Can I sew straight stitch on stretch fabric? ›

The straight stitch can be used for sewing stretch fabrics with other types of stretchy threads like wooly nylon thread which used mostly in sergers. But you can use this thread ONLY in bobbins. And in the needle, you should use just a regular all purpose sewing thread.

How do you sew stretchy elastic? ›

Use a stretch needle for stitching with elastic, as these have a rounded point that penetrates between the fabric threads rather than piercing them. The point is slightly less rounded than a ballpoint needle, which is better for stitching on elastic, as ballpoint needles can skip stitches.

What is the best stretchy stitch? ›

Triple Zigzag (or Tricot) Stitch- like a regular zigzag made out of a straight stitch, this stitch is both stronger and stretchier. It's a good stitch for top stitching down things that need to stretch, but not as good for seams. It's used a lot on elastic and underwear.

What is the most used hand stitch? ›

5 Most Useful Basic Hand Sewing Stitches – for All Sewing...
  • Before We Begin:
  • The Running Stitch – The Most Basic but Handy Stitch. ...
  • The Backstitch – Useful Hand Stitch for Strong Seams. ...
  • The Whip Stitch – Whip it Real Good! ...
  • The Ladder Stitch – Hide those stitches. ...
  • The Securing Stitch – To lock in all that hard work.
Apr 9, 2021

Do you need special thread to sew elastic? ›

Elastic thread is used with stretchy fabrics and materials like jersey cotton and elastic. In many cases, a zigzag or stretch stitch with regular thread will provide enough give to work with stretchy materials, but elastic thread can be used for certain cases.

How do you sew fine stretch fabric? ›

Use a stretch stitch or long and narrow zig zag stitch instead of a straight stitch so that your seams can stretch with the fabric. If you don't have a stretch stitch on your machine, set your stitch length to the narrowest zigzag setting (0.5) and your stitch length to a medium setting.

How to sew two pieces of fabric together without overlapping? ›

Edgestitch Foot

The trick to this technique is keeping the fabrics side by side without overlapping as they are stitched. The best way to do this is to use an edgestitch foot. The center guide of the foot keeps the edges separate as they go under the foot and then they are pulled together as it goes under the needle.


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