THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

December 7, 2009

Sew your own ribbing fabric

For a lot of patterns you need a knit fabric, like a jersey or wool plus some ribbing to finish the sleeves or sew a neckband.

I know it can be difficult to find a matching ribbing for the knit fabric you want to use. I have bought cotton and acrylic ribbing in bright colors when I was making sweaters for my kids but I never found a wool ribbing.

If you can’t find the right matching ribbing you can make your own faux ribbing, using the same  knit fabric, and a twin needle.

I learned that technique from a Threads magazine article “RIBBING” FOR ANY KNIT FABRIC”
by Dorothy Amo back in 1996 April/May issue 64.

Years ago I made a wool jersey sweater and made the ribbing from the same fabric using a twin needle size 4.0×75

I made the neckband from a folded pin tucked piece of the wool.

After the pintucks were sewn I measured the needed wide and sewed the band together with a regular stitch and finished the outer edge and attached the band around the neckline with a 3 thread serger/overlocker.

I topstitched the band seam allowances around the neckline again with a twin needle.

For the sleeve cuffs I sewed pintucks for a length of 20 cm and finished both edges with a 3 thread serger and traced the part of the sleeves which I wanted in pintucks , sewed the ends together , attached to the sleeves and used 4 cm for the hem wide and hand stitched the hem since I did not want to use a visible line of stitching.

As you can see the sweater is old but it is only to show what is possible if you make the matching ribbing your self.

I made a new sample from a purple knit

I marked the knit fabric on 10 cm and starting to sew pin tucks, the wide between the pin tucks is 4 mm and I have 13 pin tucks for the 10 cm wide fabric which leaves me with 8 cm wide faux ribbing.

The size of the stitch length I used was 2,5 and the tension on high at 8. I used my normal sewing feet and set the needle on 4 towards the right.

I used my sewing foot as a guide for the previous sewn pin tuck.

wrong side

I used the sample to make a cuff for the sleeve .

The amount of stretch depends on the stretch factor and stretch recovery of the fabric plus the amount of pin tucks. In this case the cuff 10 cm wide and it can stretch towards 14,5 cm.

It is best to make a sample first.

but did not finished the edges as you can see inside the sleeve.

If you want to explore more about this sewing technique try to find a copy of Threads magazine issue 64 which shows detailed pictures and a lot more information.

   or find a copy of the “Book Sewing with Knits” by Connie Long , she also covers this type of sewing ribbing in her book.



  1. I like this method. It’s a great solution :)I have done this technique (to finish the sleeves) on fleece jackets I make for my husband and it works beautifully and wears really well.

    Comment by Ann's Fashion Studio — December 7, 2009 @ 9:53 pm

  2. Great reminder of a good technique, Els.

    Comment by Mary Beth — December 7, 2009 @ 10:24 pm

  3. I have never heard of this before. I hope I can figure it out on my own. I surely could use this!

    Comment by Natalija — December 8, 2009 @ 2:30 am

  4. Thank you so much. This is the first time I’ve heard about this method.

    Comment by Stefani Sarah — December 8, 2009 @ 2:46 am

  5. Els, this is really intriguing – but I wonder about the stretch factor… Does the faux ribbing stretch at all?

    PS. Merry Christmas!

    Comment by Åsa — December 8, 2009 @ 3:48 am

    • Hi Åsa

      Yes it has some stretch.
      The amount of stretch depends on the stretch factor and stretch recovery of the fabric plus the amount of pin tucks. In this case the cuff 10 cm wide and it can stretch towards 14,5 cm.

      Comment by Els — December 8, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

  6. This is brilliant! I love the result – I bet it would work with a wool crepe as well. I’d also like to know if it has any stretch (probably does at least in the parts between the pintucks).

    Comment by Digs — December 8, 2009 @ 7:09 am

    • Hi Digs

      I added to the post:
      The amount of stretch depends on the stretch factor and stretch recovery of the fabric plus the amount of pin tucks. In this case the cuff 10 cm wide and it can stretch towards 14,5 cm.

      Comment by Els — December 8, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

  7. Thanks for sharing. I have some stretchy velvet fabric I’m about to start work on and I had no idea how to finish the sleeves and neckline untill now.

    Comment by Nan — December 8, 2009 @ 9:19 am

  8. WOW! Thank you so much, Els — you have shared some wonderful tutorials, and this one might be my favorite one yet. What a superb teacher you are.

    Comment by Elizabeth — December 8, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

  9. thank for this info.

    Comment by designfollow — December 8, 2009 @ 8:17 pm

  10. Cool! Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Summerset — December 9, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

  11. Thank you so much for this smart and helpful advice. I will definitely try this!

    Comment by senaSews — December 10, 2009 @ 4:32 am

  12. This is so cool. I can’t tell you how frustrated I get by not finding matching ribbing for projects!

    Comment by missceliespants — December 10, 2009 @ 8:04 pm

  13. Thank you for this idea. I have a cotton/viscose knit jumper that has stretched badly at the bottom. I have been trying to work out how to fix it and this might just be the way. I could “rib” a section at the bottom and it will not hang so losely.

    Comment by Priscilla Shorne — December 10, 2009 @ 11:46 pm

  14. What a fabulous idea! Thanks for posting it. You’re right, lack of matching ribbing often discourages me from sewing with knits. Who wants obviously wrong ribbing?

    Comment by Marji — December 11, 2009 @ 9:12 am

  15. This is very timely Els, as I have been looking high and low for some rib to match a fabulous fun fake fur with colors not found in nature. I did find the right color in a knit, but it doesn’t have the chunky look I wanted. Els to the rescue! Thank you so much.

    Comment by georgene — December 13, 2009 @ 9:31 am

  16. This is awesome! I have been searching the local stores and the web for charcoal grey ribbing and can’t find it any where. Now I don’t have!

    Comment by Madeleine Quinlan — December 19, 2009 @ 6:09 pm

  17. Now I don’t have TO! sorry.
    I just had another thought for cuffs and bands. Possibly could get away without a separate attached band. Just cut the sleeves/fronts/backs several inches longer than the pattern, turn under and “pin tuck” up to the raw edge of the “hem”. Make sense? I will have to try it out.

    Comment by Madeleine Quinlan — December 19, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

    • It could work if your sleeve seam is partly left open and not already sewed.It will also depend how wide the sleeve is at the wrist and if you prefer a snug cuff or a loose one. Just make a sample to test. Good luck.

      Comment by Els — December 19, 2009 @ 6:29 pm

  18. The timing of this post is serendipitous for me. I have a mystery-fiber knit with lots of drape and stretch but no recovery. I’m going to experiment with the ribbing technique, even though this soft knit is ribbed already. As described in Connie Long’s book, I may try the ribbing technique to narrow the waist of the tunic I’m going to attempt. Thank you so much for the photos and description of technique.

    Comment by Joan Schott — December 19, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

  19. I meant to add to my post above, that Connie Long suggests that wooly nylon thread in the bobbin gives the pintucks more stretch.

    Comment by Joan Schott — December 19, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

  20. Very interesting, as always. My best wishes for the Christmas holidays and also for the new year.

    Greetings, Paco

    Comment by paco peralta — December 23, 2009 @ 9:08 am

  21. Thank you for another wonderful tutorial!

    Comment by Maja — December 24, 2009 @ 9:57 am

  22. I remember the article but I’ve never done it. Thanks for reminding me about this!

    Comment by Nancy K — December 24, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  23. What a wounderful idea, it is really very good.

    Comment by Shah Rukh Khan — February 22, 2010 @ 3:37 am

  24. thanks for this info! i went straight to the threads website to purchase the back issue… but no luck 😥
    i hope i can find more tips on the net

    Comment by claudia — March 13, 2010 @ 1:39 am

    • Claudia, you can find threads magazines on

      Comment by Els — March 13, 2010 @ 9:37 am

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