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Knit fabric, especially single-knit jersey, is known for its characteristic curling or rolling at the fabric edges.
Typically, jersey knit selvages roll toward the “wrong” side of the fabric while cut edges curl toward the “right” side when the fabric is stretched. While this annoying rolling helps differentiate the fabric front from back, it makes working with knits frustrating.
For instance, you have a reduced cutting area when edges roll. And, trying to sew and manipulate curling fabric decreases accuracy. I absolutely despise trying to fold small strips of rolled jersey for neckbands!
Therefore, learning how to stop knit fabric from curling and rolling will make sewing with knit fabrics much easier and more fun!
How to Stop Knit Fabric from Curling and Rolling
While avoiding stretching your fabric and sewing soon after cutting minimize rolling in the first place, you will still likely encounter curled edges at some point.
Here are five methods I use when working with curled stretch fabrics. Depending on how unruly your fabric is, some of these methods work better than others.
1. Use Pattern Weights
If the rolling is slight and you don’t think you’ll have issues sewing the pieces later, place pattern weights over the pattern pieces where they overlap the rolling edges. This is a simple temporary fix to help you cut fabric more easily.
2. Serging Knit Fabric Edges
Neatening fabric edges on most knit fabrics is not necessary to prevent unraveling. However, serging adds weight to the fabric edges. This added weight, along with the width of the serger stitch, keeps those edges from curling and rolling in on themselves multiple times. Thus, the fabric lays flatter.
I own a Brother serger, and it’s the best $200ish addition to my sewing room! If you don’t have a serger, you can use an overcast stitch on your sewing machine to mimic a serged 3-thread overlock finish.
As a note, serging stretch fabric edges works best for large yardages with simple shapes. Meaning, a rectangle of fabric for a skirt is perfect to serge. A small circle piece of knit fabric, not so much.
And, if you choose to neaten the edges of pattern pieces and are trimming any fabric off with your serger, adjust your seam allowances accordingly.
Lastly, if you do decide to stretch the fabric after serging, you may still have some slight inward rolling. That’s where the rest of these methods for helping fabric to lay flat come in!
3. Starching and Pressing Knit Fabric
Before starting to cut knit fabric, it’s a good idea to give your fabric a good pressing to get wrinkles out.
Make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions on your fabric to ensure it will tolerate heat well. Knit fabrics often require a lower temperature setting than woven cotton, and you don’t want to scorch fabric or add an unfortunate shine to it!
Unfortunately, just pressing the selvage and cut edges will not completely undo the rolls, though.
So, as you’re de-wrinkling your fabric, use a light layer of starch on the edges to help flatten stubborn rolls. No steam needed on your iron, either!
If your iron is dirty or you’re worried about marring the right side of your fabric, press from the wrong side. And, consider using a pressing cloth. Make sure to test on a small swatch of fabric first with the starch.
Starch uncurls the majority of most knit fabrics and is affordable and easy to use. It also washes out in the first laundry. Just make sure to clean your iron if you notice build-up after frequent use!
4. Terial Magic to Uncurl & Stiffen Knit Fabric Edges
Now, if your fabric is particularly resistant to uncurling and won’t budge with spray starch, I’ve never met a fabric that doesn’t respond to Terial Magic.
Terial Magic is a fabric stiffening agent that makes fabric feel almost like paper. I bought it at first to help stabilize thin cotton fabrics that I planned to embroider. However, I’ve discovered MANY other uses since then. Such as uncurling the most stubborn of knit fabrics.
Here’s how to use Terial Magic:
- Spray the rolled edges of your knit fabric. They need to be damp but not drenched. I always spray mine over the bathroom sink to avoid making a mess of my sewing corner.
- Hang your fabric, letting the stiffener soak into the fibers. I like to drape mine over the side of my cutting table while it dries.
- After 10 minutes (or whenever the spray is soaked in well), press your fabric as directed by the manufacturer’s instructions.
The fabric will then become stiff, paper-like, and SO flat. This is safe to sew through without gumming up your needle, and the fabric can still be turned and creased for a hem with no difficulty.
One thing I don’t love about Terial Magic, though, is it temporarily darkens light fabrics until it is washed out. It does wash out easily with water, though, and does not leave any residue on your iron, unlike regular spray starch.
5. DIY Water-Soluble Stabilizer Solution
If you’re a machine embroiderer who uses water-soluble stabilizer or topping like Sulky Solvy, you can dissolve residual scraps in water to make a stabilizing solution!
Here’s an official recipe from the Sulky blog. (I don’t usually use rubbing alcohol, and I also use room temperature water when making mine. I’ve never had a problem as long as I use it within a short period of time!)
Once you’ve created your liquid stabilizer, spray this on the curled ends of your fabric. Let it soak in, and then iron once just damp.
Depending on your concentration of Solvy stabilizer in your concoction, you can create just a little stiffness to unroll edges, or you can make the fabric paper stiff like with Terial Magic!
Solvy-based stabilizers also wash out with water, leaving no one the wiser how you got those edges flattened.
Jersey Fabric Mastered!
I hope you enjoyed reading about these five ways for how to stop knit fabric from rolling at the edges. Any other solutions you’ve found along your sewing journey?