Sewing with Knits for Beginners (and a giveaway)

Wednesday, Sep 11 - posted by Jessica

Row 1: Gretchen, Phoebe, Gretchen, Adele, Phoebe, Lilly Belle
Row 2: Madelyn, Elise, Kate, Phoebe, Olive

"I would love to make that, but I do not know how to sew with knit!" 

We can't tell you how often we've had that said to us...  Do you feel the same? Does sewing with knits feel intimidating?  You're not alone if it does!  But sewing with knits is so easy! You just need to know a few things before you start.... we are here to tell you, your mind is about to be eased and a whole new world of sewing is about to be opened up!! 

This blog article is designed to take the mystery out of knit...

You'll know: 

  • How to pick which type of knit fabric is best for your garment
  • What type of settings to put your machine on when sewing with knit
  • Tips to make a fabulous finished knit garment
You'll have the confidence and tools you need to start creating gorgeous garments with knit.
Let's get started!!!

 

Knit fabric comes in various forms, here are a few of the most common forms:

  • Jersey Knit -  Jersey can be blended out of cotton, rayon, polyester and silk. Jersey knit is also usually blended with a bit of spandex, as this is what helps it to stretch and bounce back to the original shape.  Jersey knit has a distinct front and back, with the smooth side on the front side of the fabric, and a more textured back side.  When cut, jersey knit tends to curl at the edges, which can make it a bit more tricky to work with.  This knit is great for skirts, tops, yoga pants and dresses. 
          We often sew with jersey knit.  We like jersey blends of 90-95% cotton/poly with 5-10% lycra spandex. This produces a quality, light weight knit that holds its shape and is soft and comfy.
Here are some examples of cute Jersey knits:

Jersey Knits from Girl Charlee

 

Here are some examples of patterns we've sewn using Jersey knits:

  

Madelyn top pattern, Gretchen cardigan pattern, Olive top pattern

 

  • Interlock Knits - Interlock is thicker than jersey knit, as both sides of the fabric are smooth, like the right side of a jersey fabric. Interlock is SUPER easy to sew with because it doesn’t stretch out of shape as easily as jersey and it doesn’t curl at the edges.  We find Interlock as easy to sew with as any woven cotton!  Because it is a more stable fabric, and is a breeze to work with, it is one of our preferred types of knit!  This knit is great for skirts, tops, yoga pants, and dresses.
          We love interlock knit, and there are tons of gorgeous prints found in interlock!  It holds it's shape very nicely, and ruffles don't tend to be too heavy when sewn using interlock knit. 
Here are some examples of gorgeous Interlock knits:

Colorful Rabbits, Hot Air Balloons, Mustaches

(just a sampling of super creative and fun interlock knits available at www.spoonflower.com)

 

Here are some examples of patterns we've sewn using Interlock knits:

 

Phoebe top/dress, Brooke riding pants, Gretchen cardigan

Interlock Knits from Spoonflower, from left to right: Yellow Dot, Cameo Pink Roses, Blue Vintage Hot Air Balloons, Cameo Rose Dots

 

  • Rib Knits - Rib knit has the ribbing on both sides of the fabric.  Rib knits tend to be very stretchy when pulled perpendicular to the rib. The ribbing can come in a variety of sizes from large ribs to baby ribbing.  If you envision the neck of a t-shirt, this part is usually made with Rib knits.  This knit is popular for cuffs and bands because of the elasticity.  We don't really use rib knits often, but they certainly are fine to use! 
Here are some examples of Rib knits:

    Fabric.com

     

    Here we've sewn the Adele dress using Rib knit:

    Adele dress pattern
    • Slinky Knit - Slinky knit is an acetate-lycra fabric with ribs that is very stretchy and does not wrinkle. This knit is great for wrinkle free dresses that are light weight.  We don't recommend slinky knit for any of our patterns that feature ruffles, because it isn't able to hold the weight of ruffles well at all.  This type of knit especially wouldn't be good for the Phoebe dress, because the weight of the skirt portion would weigh the top portion down.  This is a knit that we don't ever really use and we don't recommend it for our patterns. 

    Now that we've discussed the types of knits that are great to use, let's take a look at sewing machine settings and other sewing tips!

     

    1.  Choose your needle.  Ballpoint or Stretch Needles are specifically designed for sewing with knits. The ballpoint is great because it will not make loose holes in the knit fabric while you sew.
    2. Machine Stitch Settings. The absolute best stitch to use when sewing with knit is the stretch stitch.  On some machines this stitch looks like a small lightning bolt.  Here is a picture of that stitch on one of our machines.  Not all machines have this particular stitch, though.... See below if yours doesn't.

    Basically, the stretch stitch is a narrow zig-zag stitch.  This type of stitch allows the fabric to retain the stretch after it is sewn.  If you do not have a setting on your machine for this exact stitch then you can adjust the zig-zag on your straight stitch to mimic it.
     
    A. First, increase the stitch length on your sewing machine.  We put our stitch length around a 4.  This will help maintain the stretch in the fabric once it is sewn.  This also helps the knit move easily through your machine.
    B. Second, lower the tension on your machine down to a 2.  This will also help the knit move easily through your machine and maintain stretch.
    Here is a photo of our stitches once all the correct settings have been applied:
    3. Sew slowly to maintain control and adjust the fabric as necessary. Be careful not to pull or stretch the fabric as
    you sew, as this will prevent your garment from losing its shape.
    4. Knit does not ravel, so it is not necessary to finish the inside seams or the bottom of the ruffles.  We actually prefer to not finish the seams.  We like the ending look better.  Sometimes if you finish the inside seams with a serger or zig-zag stitch, it can cause the the fabric to look pulled or warped.  
    How do you feel about sewing with knit now? 
    Are you ready to give it a go? 
    We hope we've helped build your confidence a little if you were nervous or intimidated before.  Get yourself some plain knit to practice with, and some gorgeous knit for after, and get to sewing!!! 
    Need some patterns???  How would you like to WIN some?
    How about EVERY Violette Field Threads pattern that can be made from knit?
    This includes:
    Kate
    Phoebe
    Gretchen
    Adele
    Audrey
    Lilly Belle
    Madelyn
    Olive
    Elise
    Scarlett (the legwarmers)
    Lucy
    Penelope
    Brooke
    We're having more posts on knit this week..... where we love to purchase it from, fun knit combinations, more tips,
    AND *MORE* EXCELLENT GIVEAWAYS (hint, hint, that include knit fabrics).....so stay tuned!  
    xoxo,
    Jessica & Ericka

     

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