“I want to make this stretch knit dress…but I don’t have a serger machine…”

If you are in this situation, I’ve got just the tips for you :) I know not all of us have a serger machine at home, but I bet all of us wouldn’t mind a super comfy dress, top, or bottoms made of a luscious stretch knit fabric! 

Well, I’ve already shared some tips on my YouTube channel and Instagram, but here I’m going to put it all together into one little roadmap you can use whenever you want to sew stretch knits without a serger. 

Let’s get started with the first step:


✅ You want to make sure that you are going to use the right needle on your sewing machine to achieve the right stitch. For knit fabric, there are several options of sewing machine needles. You can use stretch, jersey, or a ballpoint needle. This is to avoid any skipped stitches when sewing knits. A ballpoint needle has rounded tips that will penetrate the fabric without piercing it, so that you won’t get any holes along your seam. 

How to Sew Stretch Knit Without a Serger
✅ Once you have the right sewing machine needle for your sewing machine and fabric, now you need the right thread. I recommend using all-purpose thread instead of something like a cotton thread which is often regarded as the weakest. All purpose thread does much better under pressure and stretching. You don’t necessarily want to use a serger thread on your sewing machine, because they are thinner. And as a plus, you can use all-purpose threads on both your serger and regular sewing machine! 
How to Sew Stretch Knit Without a Serger
✅ Before we get to what kinds of seams to use on your sewing machine to imitate a serger, let’s talk about the method first. You want to make sure that you leave enough space between the edge of your fabric and your stitch, about 4-5 mm. Then you can trim off the excess fabric to create a clean finish, instead of a wavy and an uneven stitch. If you sew on the edge just as you would on a serger, you are likely to overstretch your fabric and your seam. Your machine will want to skip away from the fabric, and you will struggle while sewing. But, if you sew away from the edge, you have more control over the seam and will achieve a better result! Below you can see the side by side of the fabric after sewing. 
How to Sew Stretch Knit Without a Serger




✅ There are different seams that you can use on your sewing machine instead of a serger, but this depends on your fabric and project. For example, you can use an overlocker imitation seam on your machine, as you can see in the photo below that’s number 10 and 11 on my Janome 8077. 


How to Sew Knits without a Serger

✅ You can also use a zigzag, on this machine that’s number 8. Using a narrow zig zag works well, one that’s about 0.5-1mm wide and 2.5mm long. This is primarily for joining details in your project. Otherwise, for the hem, neckline, and sleeve it’s perfectly good to use a coverlock, or otherwise topstitch using a double needle. Another option is to hand sew a blind hem stitch.

✅ Try a few different ones on a scrap piece of fabric to see which one you like best. In the photo below, I used the overedge stitch, which I preferred. 

How to Sew Knits without a Serger



✅ This can be one of the most overlooked, but one of the most important steps in the sewing process, especially when sewing with knit fabrics. Pressing your seams gets rid of any waviness, which causes a bad fit. You want to set your iron to the right settings, which of course depend on your fabric, to get the best press possible. This is different from ironing, when you are trying to get wrinkles out of fabric. Here, your method is important. You want to impress the right shape into the fabric, so especially when you are working with waviness in your seams, you want to carefully move and hold your iron to almost solidify the right compressed shape into your fabric.


How to Sew Knits without a Serger

✅ Your tools have an important role in getting a good result, so, I highly recommend getting a Wooden Tailor’s Clapper. This handy thing aftering steaming the garment flat, cooling it down and drawing out any moisture. 

How to Sew Knits without a Serger

And that’s it for this little run-through of how to sew knit fabrics without a serger! It’s not as complicated as it may look in the beginning - so I hope these tips will help you in overcoming that little barrier of not having a serger :) 

👉🏻 Here’s a run-down of what we talked about:

  1. Sewing Machine Settings: Use the right sewing machine needle, like a ballpoint. Use an all-purpose thread, which is stronger than serger thread on a regular machine. Stitch 4-5 mm from the edge when sewing to avoid an uneven and overstretched edge. 
  2. Imitation Seams: Use a narrow zigzag, overedge stitch, a topstitch with a double needle, or a blind hem stitch. 
  3. Pressing: Don’t forget to press and use a wooden clapper to get rid of any waviness. 

If you want to watch my video tutorial on the exact techniques I use for sewing knit fabric without a serger, you can check it out here: 

And here’s a list of the products I mentioned above in a neat little list for you: (Affiliate links) 


Sewing Machine: 



Tailor’s Clapper: 

Sleeve Ironing Board: 

Twin needle stretch: 






Happy Sewing! 

xx Tiana 


  • Laura J. Sullivan

    Hey there! I just wanted to drop a quick comment to say a massive thanks for demystifying the art of sewing stretch knits without a serger. Those tips on adjusting sewing machine settings and choosing the right needle absolutely saved me from a lot of potential skipped stitches and unnecessary frustration! Can’t wait to try out the sample patterns you suggested with my newfound confidence. I’ve learned so much from your blog, thank you!

  • sherry

    Thanks. I have been wanting to sew more knits but afraid of ruining material as don’t have a serger. Your points and videos really help, thanks. Sherry

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