November 24, 2021

If you've ever tried to sew a stretchy fabric before and come out with wavy stretched out seams, then you know why it's important to use the right settings on your sewing machine - even if you haven't quite figured them out yet!

So what are the right settings?

Presser Foot Pressure

This is the most important one for knit fabrics - most machines allow you to adjust the presser foot pressure, and lowering it will dramatically reduce the waviness in your seams. Check out this comparison of the same fabric and same stitch type - only difference is the presser foot pressure.

Walking Foot or Knit Foot

While this isn't technically a setting, a walking foot or knit foot can be an integral part in achieving straight seams on your sewing machine, especially if you have a very basic machine that doesn't allow you to adjust the presser foot pressure. Even on a machine that does allow you to adjust the pressure, it can make a small difference - check out this comparison with a walking foot sample added.


I have not found that the tension needs to be adjusted for any of my knit fabrics, but I have heard that a very thick knit fabric may require a slight lowering of the tension.

Stitch Length

A longer stitch length helps a lot in preventing waviness in knit seams. You will also need a stretch stitch (such as triple stitch, lightning bolt, or zig zag) so that your seams can stretch with the fabric - but to prevent stretching during sewing, all you need is a longer stitch length.

Need more info on any of these settings? Check out this video:

YouTube video

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4 comments on “Sewing Machine Settings for Sewing Knit Fabrics”

  1. I have an inexpensive singer sewing machine (under $200). I purchased some stretchy bamboo to make pajamas. I have watched every youtube video and read everything I can possibly find on sewing stretch fabric. I've tried all the things: walking foot, stretch needle, stretch stitch, stay tape, tissue paper and on and on. Nothing works. Even after I think I've sewn a decent seam, the thread pops when I pull on it. Is it me or is it my machine?

    1. It could be your thread. You want good quality polyester thread, I like Gutermann. 100% cotton breaks more easily, and avoid cheap dollar store thread or old hand-me-down thread. If that's not the problem, can you email me and send me a picture of your stitches and the setting on your machine that you are using?

  2. Thank you so much for this info! I used to sew ALOT! I caught the bug from my aunt when I was a kid, she used to sew an entire play clothes wardrobe for my brother and I each summer and would let me help. By the time I was in HS, I was using sergers and embroidery machines and making custom embroidery at a t-shirt shop. I was using machines and techniques beyond anything my aunt knew how to do. But then I graduated and took a year off to goof off before college and at the end of the year got pregnant with my first son. I was a single mom with two plus jobs and busy busy. Then I adopted my husband’s three children, two girls and a boy, a few years later and spent the next 16 years raising kids, coaching at least a dozen sports teams, being a taxi, doing hair and makeup, scouts, etc. I didn’t have time to sew! I taught my girls how to sew and bought them a machine. Our oldest daughter made several items with it, including a dress and I made a few quilts with it, but other than that I hadn’t done any sewing. I even taught myself to sew on antique treadle machines and actually have a collection of them! I’m just now getting back into sewing, since I have four grandchildren coming this year! (OhLord!) And I’m wanting to make my pregnant daughter and two pregnant daughters in law a pair of stretchy harem jumpers because I wish they’d had cute stuff like that when I was pregnant (you know, feels like pjs but passes for cute outfit in public lol). Anyway, I really appreciate your insight on how to set my machine up to get a good looking stretch knit sewing project!

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