END ‘Knit Wavy Seam Syndrome’…

I am often asked about knits, and the infamous ‘Wavy Seam Syndrome’.

Up until recently, my advice hasn’t been all that fantastic. Let’s see, there is sewing with a ball point needle. Sew using your serger (if you have one), or a zig zag stitch. If you must do a straight stitch, always sew on a long stitch. And of course, sew very carefully – being sure NOT to pull the fabric through. Know the stretch of your fabric (horizontal or vertical or both). A walking foot can help to keep from having wavy seams as well. Sew with an interlock knit if you are a beginner, as these are the best to learn on.

And so on. All basic information which you can find anywhere. And don’t get me wrong, very helpful! They helped me all this time (especially if you don’t have a serger, that zig zag stitch rocks!).

Well recently I figured out just about the coolest bit of information EVER when it comes to knits. I am not kidding you, it will change your sewing with knits life.

You will go from this:

(Typing late at night is another story *sigh*)

To this, in a matter of minutes:

Are you ready? It is pretty freakin’ simple.

Tissue paper.

You know, the kind that comes in clothing boxes? Stock up on it. Stop throwing it away. And treasure it for-ever. Consider it your new best friend.

Simply put it underneath your knit while you are feeding it through the machine – and voila! Of course, you should still sew using a long straight stitch (or zig zag, whatever your fancy) – but the seems come out pretty darned flawless. It gives it just enough stabilizing that it helps the knit feed through beautifully. And when you are done, simply pull the tissue paper away from your project. You may need to pick a few extra pieces stuck under your stitches – but it is well worth the little bit of time you need to do it.

So now you know. It is amazing, it is awesome, and I am pretty sure it is going to rock your world about as much as it did mine.

Knits everywhere – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. We are coming for you! Ha :)

Thanks so much for stopping by, and until next time…

Happy Sewing!

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Jess Abbott the Sewing Rabbit is the founder and creative director behind the me sew crazy blog, as well as SewSet.com, 5 & 10 Designs, GNO Events, and co-editor of STYLO. She resides in Virginia Beach with her husband and 3 children.
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  1. says

    Hey Jessica…. thank you soo much for the tip… will be trying this today. And by the way I love your blog soo much. Gr8 work!!!

  2. says

    Thank you! Knit fabrics are really hard to come by in great prints in the UK plus I’m actually quite scared of them so I gave up until I can find the time to borrow my mother in law’s serger. I shall attempt that skirt I want to make now!

  3. says

    Thanks for the tip! I have always been scared of knits and have just recently started to brave them again. I have a knit top waiting in my queue as I type.

  4. says

    I wish I’d had the tip last weekend as I cut down 2 of my old t-shirts into tops for my granddaughter. In the end I gave up and made it look like the wavy edges were meant to be by zig-zagging in a contrast colour! I shall hunt out another old shirt and try again now! Thanks!

  5. says

    Wow – I love ideas like this – unexpected magic!!! Is it just one layer of tissue? I’m totally going to try this – now I just need a foolproof pattern.

  6. says

    Oooo I need to try this! Thanks! I’ve been using my walking foot for knit hems but this would save me the ultra cumbersome step of putting it on when I’m just ready to SEW! ;)

    • says

      I didn’t bother pinning the paper to the fabric, I thought it might cause the paper to tear if I wasn’t gentle enough. But truth be told, I am not a big pinner. (unless you count pinterest – ha!) I like to line my seams up as I am sewing, simply because I hate to remove the pins as I go along. But pinning certainly wouldn’t hurt if it makes you feel more comfortable!

  7. says

    I have knit all bought and ready to be turned into a dress for my daughter. I’ve been avoiding it for months. I’m scared of it looking homemade and awful. Thanks for this tip! This just might be the kick in the butt I need to going on the dress. THank you thank you thank you!

  8. says

    That is a fantastic before and after shot. I will have to try this sometime when I’m too lazy to attach the walking foot and/or if I want the hem narrower than my walking foot sews.

  9. says

    I work with knits all the time and hate that “wave” so when I saw this post I had to try it right away. It really really helps and it was a lot of fun to rip the tissue paper off afterwards. lol And I think after a wash the tiny pieces left in the stitch should come right out. THANK YOU!

  10. says

    great idea! thanks for the tip. i would really love to conquer the tee-shirt neckline: it’s one of my greatest sewing fears.

  11. says

    Love this–I use tear-away paper to feed fabrics all the time. I have never thought to try it on knits. generic tissue, here I come!

  12. says

    Love the simplicity of it! :) I just ordered 3 yards of fairly expensive double stretch knit and was a little worried that I’d ruin it based on my past issues with knits (though on little girls clothes that little wavy/ruffly edge around the neck and sleeves is cute, but not so much the look I am going for on MY clothes!

  13. says

    This is a great tip Jessica. But I’m still scared to death to sew knits because I’ve never had any luck. And I REALLY want to make some knit tops. Do you use a special needle? What about stitch length, do you prefer straight or zig-zag?

    Hugs…Tracy @ Cotton Pickin Cute

  14. says

    Thanks for the tip! I definitely need to try this! I also found out that having the right presser foot also makes a big difference :)

  15. says

    Okay..what about sewing on a serger? I’m thinking that paper really doesn’t work for serging…besides, paper + stitching isn’t very RTW…RTW is all about shortcuts and I’m not seeing paper as a shortcut. If you’re going to use paper, **Toss Out** the needle when you’re finished with the garbage. Yeah, pitch it in the garbage. Needle is useless..it’s been beat up by paper. It’s completely dull and would skip stitches on your next project. Seriously. Get rid of the needle before it causes heart ache on your next garment…Caveat: it’s OK to sew on paper. Just know your needles. Paper kills needles, OK?

  16. says

    It works really well. I just did an altering this morning and this is what I did. Thank you for sharing! :) It solves the wavy seam syndrome. Awesome!!!! :)

  17. says

    Not that tissue paper isn’t cheap enough, but if you really want to stock up for free – go to a department store’s shoe department – like Walmart – especially during the week. Ask the associate to save the flat tissue paper for you and tell them you will pick it up the following day or end of the shopping trip or whatever.

    (this is also a great department to get moving boxes – the shipping cases from the shoes were usually pretty heavy duty and held about 12 shoeboxes in them.)

  18. says

    I don’t know if this will help anyone, but i use strips of plastic shopping bags, a tip I got from the patternreview.com book. When you pull the plastic off it doesnt leave anything behind.

  19. says

    omg, thank you. I have a couple yards of a really pretty interlock print I’ve been afraid to touch lest I make a mess of it. Now I can actually make something with it!

  20. says

    This is brilliant!! I just made a shirt that this happened on, wish I had known this before! Oh well, this is definitely in my memory bank for all future knit projects I do! I do a series on my blog every Tuesday called Sewing Tip Tuesday….I’m going to feature this {with links back to you!} next week (6/5), so come check it out! Thanks so much for a great tip!

  21. says

    I had just wondering what I had being doing wrong on my attempts at refashioning t-shirts. Thanks for the tip, you’ve really helped me out.

    • says

      I am sorry, I do not have a pattern on hand. I deconstructed a few of my old onesies for it, and once I did that I have a pattern I personally use whenever I am making one. You don’t need to literally take apart your old shirt by the seams though – just lay it on tracing paper and go around it! That is what I do when necessary!

      • Diana says

        Onesie…great idea! Do you think bias tape will work for the edges of the neck and cuffs instead of knit fabric?

  22. says

    How do you get a long straight stitch? I’m sure that’s a silly question, but I’m just learning how to sew. I’m sure every machine is different too. Mine has a dial on it that gives me the choice of a number over another number. I’m not sure what those numbers indicate. I’m assuming they’re measurements. Maybe you might know what those numbers would need to read in order to get a good “long straight stitch” for knits on my machine? Thanks for any help you might have on this!

    • says

      You need to set your stitch dial to the largest number, unfortunately – not knowing your machine – I do not know which dial this might be. But there is usually a stitch length dial, as well as needle position dial.

      Hope this helps at least a little bit!!! Did your machine come with a manual? If not, you can google your machine usually and it will let you know!

      • Elena says

        Thanks for the tip! I’m a beginner and am scared of knit fabric.
        I do have a question regarding “long straight stitch”. I have read when working with knit to always use a stretch stitch. Is this the same thing but longer?

        Love reading your blog!

        Thanks :)

        • says

          It truly depends on how much stretch you need your knit to have after stitch. A long straight stitch will give it very minimal stretch, but it WILL stretch. Just because the stitch is longer in length, it will have a tad more slack in the thread. A lot of people do not have a ‘stretch’ stitch on their machine, but if you have one – DEFINITELY use it!!!

  23. says

    What!? That’s pure genius! Thank you so much! I love sewing with knits until I have to finish the edges because it’s more times than not that I end up with those sinking wavy seams UGH! But I’m going to try this now and if it works like toy say it will, my frustration is over! Yay, thank you!

  24. says

    My Mum was a seamstress for a famous couturiers in London during the 1930s and passed this tip down to me. It also works for net, fine and slippery fabrics, too.

  25. Hannah says

    Thanks soooo much for this!
    I have been searching the internet forever for this golden advice.
    Thanks a lot, I will try it out today :)

  26. Diana says

    I want to duplicate the black and white shirt pattern. I absolutely love the neckline and cuffs. My daughters have some shirts that are too big and I want to cut and sew them to look like this. Can you give me some tips? Thanks!

  27. says

    no way does it really work that well. I just bought a $50 walking foot for my machine for my knits, I wish I didn’t open it already, lol

  28. Windy says

    I sometime use freezer paper and put the glossy side to the fabric and run a warm iron over it and it adheres slightly. I use paper to sew through anytime the fabric stretches or bunches. I save scrapes form any project I have been doing. I do a lot of costumes and a lot of the fabric is “fussy”.

  29. London says

    Im returning to sewing after years away from the machine and I adore knit because I love close fitted clothing :) just attempted a simple tube top and of course wavy hem bummer. I was all set to just put elastic casing on it as I did on the top but now I will try this :) I knew it worked on silky fabric bur never put 2 and 2 together. Thanks

  30. says

    Hi Jessica,

    Such an awesome tip! I have sewn for forty years (yes, seriously dating myself!) and this is a new sewing trick for me. Thanks for sharing!



  1. [...] That’s just a little something I was working on yesterday, which you’ll probably see next week.  It was almost all done with one of their knit stitches, and that sweater knit fabric was super duper stretchy. I had no idea how it was going to turn out, it had disaster written all over it. Imagine my shock when it came out with this clean of a finish. And I didn’t even use my tissue paper method. [...]

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