Open-hole fabric woven into a grid-like finish is referred to as mesh. Polyester mesh fabric, commonly used in athletic wear as side panel inserts, is a breathable fabric as it wicks moisture away from the skin during activity. Fashion apparel designers also incorporate the sheer fabric as overlays adding texture and dimension to flat knit material such as tricot. Doubling the mesh layer camouflages delicate body areas. Make a few adjustments to your sewing machine to create a variety of styles using this versatile fabric.
Change the sewing machine regular point needle to a size 9, 10 or 11 jersey ballpoint needle. The round tip shape of the needle allows the sewing machine to stitch in between the fibres of loosely-woven fabrics such as mesh. The needlepoint inserts in between the mesh threads and avoids splitting or breaking the thread.
Change the cotton to polyester thread, which has natural stretch. Use this thread as the upper stitching thread.
Hand-wind the bobbin with elasticated thread. Do not pull or wind the thread tightly around the bobbin. This thread provides significant stretch for the mesh, avoiding breaks during movement.
Pin your pattern with ballpoint pins to flesh coloured swimwear lining, tricot or synthetic mesh knit to cover delicate body areas. Ballpoint pins avoid making visible holes in knitted fabrics such as Spandex or tricot.
Cut the fabric with sharp fabric scissors. Baste the fabric to the mesh by hand using a ballpoint hand needle and polyester thread. Skip Steps 4 and 5 if you are using mesh knit as side insert panels.
Change the machine's stitch selector wheel to a zigzag stitch. If you are working with a computerised sewing machine, set the stitch width and length to 2.0. If you are working with wide hole mesh, set the stitch to a wider width and length. The zigzag stitching avoids catching or snagging the mesh.
Machine stitch the mesh fabric and cut away all loose threads prior to wearing. If you want to finish the ends, use tricot knit binding sold at fabric supply stores.
Steam seams and avoid gliding the iron directly on the polyester mesh. Cover the mesh with a press cloth and allow it to cool prior to moving the steamed piece.