How to Use Stretch Thread For Sewing Knit Apparel

This post is a featured lesson in our free ebook, Beginner's Guide to Sewing Knit Apparel. Download it for free here!

Stretch Thread Pin

I’m really excited about this lesson guys. Because I sewed a whole lot of knit projects before I found out about stretch thread. In that time, I experienced way more popped stitches than I liked. Even with using my serger, or proper stretch stitches on my sewing machine. Little pop here, little pop there. And a super annoyed Jessica restitching things again and again.

Enter stretch thread!

In past tutorials, I’ve had people ask me

“Wait a second! How are you top stitching with a straight stitch on your sewing machine and not getting popped stitches?” The answer is stretch thread.

In past tutorials, we have talked about different ways to create a nice and stretchy stitch using twin needles, sergers and special stretch stitches on your sewing machine. But sometimes you just want a plain old straight stitch and no fuss ammiright?

Maxi-Lock Stretch Thread

Maxi Lock Stretch

Maxi-Lock is a brand name of thread. Their stretch thread is a textured nylon that has the look and feel of yarn. Check out this picture and you’ll see it kind of has a fuzzy texture to it. 

Holding Maxi Stretch Thread

When you pull on the thread, this loose fuzziness gives it the ability to stretch out considerably until it is taut.

Wooly Nylon

The second is wooly nylon. Wooly nylon is even more stretchy than Maxi-Lock Stretch Thread!

Wooly Nylon

When you zoom in on the wooly nylon you’ll see that it’s the fuzziest of them all. The only downside to wooly nylon is it is considerably more expensive than it’s Maxi-Lock counterpart.

Holding Wooly Nylong

Maxi-Lock Stretch vs Wooly Nylon

Comparing Stretch Thread

It’s really straight forward. Wooly nylon thread is more stretchy than Maxi-Lock, but Maxi-Lock is a lot more affordable, coming in at about half the price of wooly nylon. So if you’re doing a lot of sewing, you’re going to get the most bang for your buck going with the Maxi-Lock.

How To Use It

My first recommendation is to always have stretch thread in your bobbin when you are topstitching or sewing garments that are really form-fitting. It is going to add a glorious amount of stretch to all of your sewing machine stitches.

Maxi Lock on Bobbin

The second place I recommend using it is in your loopers on your serger and/or coverstitch machines. Even with serger stitches, you may find that garments with a lot of negative ease (swimwear, leggings, etc.) will still occasionally pop stitches with regular polyester or cotton thread. Get rid of this issue by using stretch thread in your loopers. If you feel like you aren’t getting enough stability with the stretch thread in both loopers, just use it in the lower looper.

Stretch Thread on Looper

Note: When you use it in your machines you will likely have to mess with your tension. In my serger, I have to increase the tension on it to keep my seams from being too loose and to also keep the thread from unraveling as it moves through the loopers. However, in my coverstitch machine, I have to decrease my tension to prevent my top stitches from tunneling. Just make sure to test it on some scrap fabric to perfect your tension before using it on your apparel projects.

Different kinds of stretch thread Maxi-Lock Stretch and wooly nylon
Benefits Prevents popped stitches because it is a stretchy thread
Downsides It's expensive compared to all purpose thread
Garments you should use it on Tight fitting clothing and topstitching
How to use it In your bobbin and loopers
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