Thursday, July 16, 2009

Knits, according to me

Since I have had Beth's serger visiting me, I've been sewing a lot of knits. I LOVE knits. They are a pleasure to wear, and to sew. I know that a lot of people are intimidated by knit/stretchy fabrics, and they are very different to work with than the woven fabrics that we are all used to. It is many of the properties that make them different that also make them well worth getting to know! After all, what is more comfortable than your favorite tee and yoga pants on a lazy Saturday?

So, first - the tools. There are a few things that you will want to do differently when you are sewing with a stretchy fabric. First, when you are cutting out your fabric, be aware that it does stretch. As such, use caution as you cut that you are not stretching it out as you go. Although I haven't tried it, I have heard that a rotary cutter can give you better control of this, but if you don't have one already, don't worry about it. I do fine with my shears, but do be sure that they are nice and sharp. Nothing stretches out fabric like dull shears. You also want to use care when you are laying out your pattern that the fabric isn't draping off your cutting table, as this can stretch it out, too.
Pins and needles should all be ball-point. Since knits are well, knitted, you don't want sharp points breaking individual threads in your fabric. This can lead to runs and a ruined garment. Look for the words "ball point" or "Stretch" on both your pins and your needles.
(from Sandra Betzina's More Fabric Savvy)
Sewing - For me, the best case scenario would be to serge every seam I can. A serged seam stretches with your fabric. Doesn't it look nice here on this tee shirt? A second choice for those of you who, like me, don't have a serger is to use a stretch or narrow zigzag stitch.
See, they stretch a bit.
Don't use a straight stitch and stretch the fabric. You will create ripples like the ones you see below. There is no blocking or pressing those out, folks. They're here to stay.
For a nice clean, professional hem, a twin needle is your best friend. This one is also bound with FOE (my new best friend!), but you can see the twin needle stitching. I once was afraid of these babies, but no more! They couldn't be easier and you get an amazing looking result! Go get one and play around with it. You'll love it!!On the back it looks like a zigzag, and it has all of the friendly properties of one.
Check out that stretch!Another option, if you have the appropriate machine, is to do a coverstitched hem. Looks wonderful and stretches like a dream!As you can see, it "covers" the raw edge for you as well. Nice!So, I hope I have convinced you to at least give knits a chance! They are such versatile and wonderful fabrics. You can make anything from a classic DVF style wrap dress. (This one is Vogue 8379.)
To your hubby and kiddos favorite tees - and everything in between!!


  1. Loved your post...I will sure have to try the twin needle option. Just one more thing that I haven't really ventured into. I've always been a "simple" sewer, no need to get out of my comfort zone, but I've been bitten by the bug, and I'm willing to try anything at least once. Saw a picture in your post that looked like a book (w/the needles), what book is that? I brought some patterns to work today, but forgot my tracing paper. *sigh* I guess I'll just read directions for now...have a great one!!!!

  2. Got a nice litle serger for Christmas last year (everyone chipped in.) and WOW is sure makes a difference with knits. I used to HATE using knits. Now I LOVE them. Also tule seems more appreciative of my little machine. We are working on some basic t-shirts right now. Thanks for the tips about the ball point pins though. (technically all of mine are ball point, they are so dull! Need new ones! *smile*)

  3. You're tempting me to buy a serger! I've sewed on many knits (years ago) and just used a slight zigzag stitch, but a serger finishes the seams so nicely!

    I'd never heard of FOE, so had to look it up. Sounds ideal!