8 Types of Stretch Stitches and What They Do

Here we've picked the most helpful info about stretch stitch: what it does, how to do it by hand and using a sewing machine
Jean Chaney
Jean Chaney
Research Writer
Jean is the brains behind her fashion label. She's a whiz with a needle and thread, and has been sewing since she was old enough to hold a pair of scissors. Jean has always read more
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Isabel Misner
Isabel Misner
Expert Consultant
A professional seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step read more
Last updated: September 07, 2023
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When you’re passionate about sewing, you need to know all the correct ways. This ensures you don’t make any mistakes and ruin any work you may have done. It’s because of these challenges that some people avoid sewing with knit fabric.

Sewing with knit fabric can be difficult because it stretches so the stitch has to be done a different way compared to sewing other materials. It’s important to know how to do a stretch stitch in order to prevent your stitches from popping.

In this article, we’ll go through the different stretch stitches, what you’ll need and how to do it by hand. You will be able to get the best results possible and feel proud of anything you make going forward!

What’s a stretch stitch?

8 Types of Stretch Stitches and What They DoIf you’re wondering what a stretch stitch is then you’re in the right place. In simple terms, a stretch stitch is a technique used on fabric that stretches Trusted Source Stretch fabric - Wikipedia Stretch fabric is a synthetic fabric that stretches. Stretch fabrics are either 2-way stretch or 4-way stretch. en.wikipedia.org . This is because no ordinary stitch will work without your stitches coming apart. When it comes to working with stretchy fabric, you have to use a stitch that will stretch with the material.

Using a stretch stitch sewing machine will give you all the different types of stretch stitches you need as most sewing machines already have them. A good sewing machine for you to look into would be the SINGER Professional Serger. Not only does it have a good rating from existing users but it’s extremely easy to use because it offers you a whole range of sewing options, from sewing hems to sewing decorative edges. Your equipment does determine the outcome of sewing projects, so investing in a proper machine is a good choice, even if you’re just a hobbyist.

Types of needles needed

There are two different types of needles you should have on hand when sewing knit fabric.

  • The stitch needle: This needle should be used on extremely stretchy materials such as spandex.
  • The Ballpoint needle: Unlike the stitch needle, the ballpoint needle can be used on all other knit fabrics.

The type of needle you use is extremely important because you can’t use a regular needle on knit fabric. You can purchase the SINGER Stretch Sewing Machine Needles which gives you 5 needles in case any of them break. Another bonus is that these are the correct needles you would need to use for this work.

Types of stretch stitches

It’s important to know exactly how to sew a stretch stitch because you’ll need to know which technique you should use on different knit fabric. Remember, not all knit fabric is the same. Some are more elasticated, which is why you need to know which stitch you should use when you do stretch stitching.

Below are the techniques you can use when you’re stretch stitching. You’ll need to keep these different stitches in mind when using different knit fabrics as some are better for specific materials. Matching the right stitch to the right fabric will help you achieve the look you’re going for.

Straight and triple straight

8 Types of Stretch Stitches and What They DoIt’s suggested that a straight shouldn’t be used when it comes to sewing knit fabric. This is because the seams can pop. However, you can use a straight stitch on a neckline where there isn’t too much pull on the fabric. Instead, do a triple straight stitch because it’s stronger than a straight stitch due to the technique used. This stitch is good for tougher knit fabrics such as leggings or where there also isn’t too much pull.


8 Types of Stretch Stitches and What They DoThis technique is suggested due to the way the thread is worked into the knit material. Instead of going side to side like the zigzag stitch, this stitch goes up and down making sure that there is no puckering.

Blind hem

8 Types of Stretch Stitches and What They DoA blind hem stitch is the perfect stitch to use when tailoring a pair of trousers or a skirt. The hem is almost completely invisible to the eye and yet you will still achieve a clean and seamless hem.

Zigzag and three-step zigzag

8 Types of Stretch Stitches and What They Do

A zigzag stitch is extremely popular for beginners. It is just as strong as the triple stitch and most sewing machines offer this stitch. This stitch will give you the stretch you are looking for while preventing any of your seams from coming apart.

Often you may find that when using the zigzag stitch, tunneling occurs. This can be frustrating and in order to stop that from happening, try using a three-step zigzag stitch instead.


8 Types of Stretch Stitches and What They DoIf you’re looking for a way to connect two pieces of knit fabric together as well as add some decorative edge to your item then the feather stretch stitch is the one to use.


8 Types of Stretch Stitches and What They DoThis stitch is almost like two stitches in one as it combines the zigzag stitch and the triple straight stitch. Due to this, you get the strength from the triple straight stitch as well as the finish from the zigzag stitch.


8 Types of Stretch Stitches and What They DoWhen sewing on a button, there are a few things you’ll need to do. First, mark where you want the button to be and the stitch around that mark using the zigzag stitch. Once that is done you can then make the slit between the areas where you’ve stitched.


8 Types of Stretch Stitches and What They DoIf you’re doing a bit of detailing on a knit piece and would like to attach an elastic or stretch lace, then this is the best stitch to use. Not only does it do the job you’re looking for but it will also add detail to your item.

How to do stretch stitch by hand

Luckily, all of these stretch stitch techniques can be achieved by hand and not only when using a serger sewing machine. Although sewing stretch stitches by hand can be time consuming and a little difficult, it can be done. All the techniques listed above can be done when sewing by hand:

Final thoughts

There is no need for you to avoid knit fabric now that you’ve learned everything there is to know about doing the perfect stretch stitch. You’ll feel more confident whenever given the task of sewing stretch stitches either by hand or using your sewing machine.

Make sure you’re giving yourself the time to learn while being patient with yourself if you happen to mess up. Practice makes perfect after all. If you’re passionate about sewing, then you are most definitely up for the challenge which will no longer seem so daunting after reading this article.

Stretch stitching can be difficult but now that you’ve mastered it, grab that piece of knit fabric that you’ve been afraid of and have fun!


Stretch fabric - Wikipedia
Stretch fabric is a synthetic fabric that stretches. Stretch fabrics are either 2-way stretch or 4-way stretch.
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