Sewing with Sweater knit Fabrics (10 tips)

Sweater knit is an apt name given to knits that are used to sew sweaters. What else! it is the fabric used for sweaters. And also for a lot of tops and outerwear.

It looks a lot like a hand-knitted sweater fabric with its thickness, fluffiness, and texture with a somewhat open pattern than on other knit fabrics.

So if you want knitted clothes without going into all that work knitting the fabric, these fabrics are an easy way out. You get the knitted look from machine made fabric. 

sweater knits

The sweater knit fabric is a great choice to make sweaters, of course, and cardigans, tops, ponchos, skirts, capes, scarves, dresses, hoodies, etc. The fabric is suitable for making anything that needs a moderate amount of stretch and warmth. They are soft and comfortable on the body. 

How to sew with sweater knits 


Use a small zigzag stitch (2 length and 1.5 or 2 width)


Use a stretch needle (jersey or ballpoint), of size 75/11 or 80/12; Use Poly/cotton thread or all polyester thread.


Dresses, Cardigans, turtlenecks, tees, blouses, tanks, skirts, ponchos, dresses, hoods, capes, shawls, and twin sets


An interfacing that stretches – Fusible knit tricot interfacing. For open weave sweater knits use thin fabric as interfacing.

How you sew with your sweater knit fabric depends on what kind of sweater knit you have.

Types of sweater knits

There is more than one kind of sweater knit fabric.

One is a close-knit fabric that is quite stable and dense but at the same time has enough drape. It may have a smooth surface on the top and a zigzag surface on the back.

Another type has a lot of stretch (2 way) than the other kinds.

Yet another sweater knit fabrics have an open weave construction. Hacci is an open weave sweater knit fabric which is not see through but has a looser weave made with thick yarns.

Some of them have a lacy appearance and are quite textured. They may be see-through.

Sweater knits have a medium stretch so you will have to take care of this first and foremost when you start to sew with the fabric. Treat the fabric like any other knit fabric

Sewing tips for Sweater knits in detail.

Use a stretch needle (jersey/ballpoint needle) and a synthetic thread (Polyester thread). A zig-zag stitch is used to sew the seams on most sweater knits.

A narrow zig-zag stitch has enough stretch to accommodate the stretch of the fabric. But on lacy sweater knits the zig-zag stitch may cause extra stretchiness so a straight stitch with a universal needle is preferred. A coverstitch is used for professional finish.

Take care of the fabric edges after cutting – this fabric frays a lot. So you will need to finish the fabric edges without fail. You can just zig zag the edges or for a better look apply binding.

Prewashing is a good idea – but do wash by hand and also do not twist or apply too much agitation to prevent damage to the fabric surface. Lay flat to dry.

Steam pressing is recommended to prevent fabric flattening.  To steam press, you need a steam iron. Use the steam function, keep the nozzle with the steam some 1-inch above the fabric, and allow the steam to work the magic in removing the wrinkles.

Do not move the fabric while it is hot, as the fibers will be weak.

Sometimes you may want to press, if so then use a terry pressing cloth. Keep the textured surface down on the terrycloth and press from the back to prevent the texture from flattening.  

Underlining is preferred for garments made with sweater knits and this will increase the longevity of the fabric. This is a preference. Use stretchy thin fabrics as interfacing/underlining as you cannot heat apply fusible interfacing on this fabric. What you use depends on the type of knit you have.  Tricot knit fabrics are usually used as lining.

For areas like buttonholes which you need to interface, use a fusible tricot interfacing.

For open weave sweater knits, you may have to use a thin stretch fabric underneath which matches the skin color or the fabric color – as the interfacing or the underlining will be visible on the outside.

Related posts : How to buy knit fabrics appropriate for your projects; 12 Different types of knit fabrics; Knit vs woven fabricsFabric Types and names.

Subscribe to get weekly notifications of posts in your email

Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.