So as our collection of knit patterns grows here at CKC, so does the amount of questions that we receive from our amazingly talented fans. Trust me I get it, knit is scary! Heck, it took me ten years to muster up the courage to sew with knits. Surprisingly enough, I was shocked by how simple it was. I think we over complicate knit it in our minds. And yes, there are few extra little steps that are needed--well not even needed but HIGHLY suggested and will make sewing with knits about 100 times less stressful. So prepare yourself for knit overload!!
I'm sure that most of you all have read the tips that Heather from Girl Charlee gave us back around this time last year. Along with the Double Needle How To that Julie did for us we have a great base point to jump from. So lets 1st go over the types of knits and what type of knit best suit our patterns and what type of knit we suggest to a beginner.
So let’s start at the very beginning: what is a knit fabric? Where woven fabric is made of horizontal and vertical threads being woven together, knit fabrics are made by threads being looped back and forth to form the fabric. Or as I like to call it "mini knit" if you have ever knit before you understand what I mean. ;)
So now lets go over some of the more popular knit fabrics.
Interlock knit is ideal for those who are just learning to sew with knits. Interlock knits are fairly thick and don't do that scary curling when cut:. Interlock is pretty stable so as long as you're follow our tips and tricks for sewing with knit you should be just fine tackling your 1st knit fabric project.
Interlock fabric would be perfect for the following ckc patterns.
Cotton / Lycra Jersey
Cotton jerseys are a lighter weight fabric and will roll when cut. Cotton / Lycra Jersey is made of cotton but with lycra added. These are soft and great for clothing and have the benefit of extra stretch and they recover and go back to shape nicely. There are different weights of cotton / lycra jersey, but the general rule of thumb is the heavier the weight the easier it will be to sew with.
And again I know that the curling maybe a bit scary to some. But follow the easy tips and tricks coming up and you will be fine, I promise!
Cotton and cotton/lycra jersey would be ideal for the following ckc patterns:
And while we are on the subject of the lycra. This is where the knit that is used for swimsuits fall in to place. Swimsuit lycra has added nylon.
Swimsuit lycra would obliviously be best for:
So now lets move on to a helpful tips and tricks!
Cutting and Prepping Knit
- Knits are known to shrink more then woven fabrics. For this reason it is important to prewash your knits.
- Cut all pieces along the same grain. This helps with the stretch of the fabric and will help to ensure the fit of the garment.
- Be sure to use the proper needle for sewing knit on your machine. For most that will be a Ball Point 14/90. Ballpoint needles have a rounded point that penetrates the fabric without catching or cutting the fabric
- Make sure to use pins or pattern weights when cutting due to the curling of some knits.
Sewing with Knit
- Do not pull the fabric as it goes through the feed dogs: you may risk breaking your needle and damaging your machine if you do.
- Use polyester, nylon or poly cotton thread. Pure cotton thread lacks the elasticity that is needed for knit fabrics.
- We suggest having your stitch length set to 3.
Knit fabrics don't generally unravel, so for most you can get away without finishing the seams. If your pattern does not call for a straight stitch, try a zigzag stitch. Zigzag stitches allow the seams to stretch and move easier. If your machine has a tricot stitch as pictured below, (on my machine it is the D stitch) USE IT!! this stitch is VERY flexible and perfect when sewing with knits.
The best tip to finishing knit seams is clear elastic tape. The trick is to add the clear elastic tape on the top of all the seams of your garment. This helps prevent stretching and curling in the seams.
To start you will want to give the clear elastic a good stretch. After following the directions in your pattern and pinning your raw edges together we will use the zig-zag stitch we talked about earlier to sew the clear elastic and the raw edges all together.
This life changing tip is highly suggested when also sewing any type of skirt to a knit bodice. In a pattern like this you will want to first sew the elastic to the knit bodice before attaching the skirt. In this case the clear elastic is being sandwiched between the bodice and skirt. This helps prevent the weight of the skirt from pulling and stretching the bodice.
This trick can also be done with a serger.
In the sample photo below the one on the left is the one that was sewn with the clear elastic. You will now note that your knit still have plenty of stretch, but it is stronger and this will create a much more durable seam.
Before hemming use the following the tip to create a clean and nicely laying hem. By doing so, you are adding a tad bit of extra weight to your knit. This helps the hem to fall and lay nicely.
Using a fusible interfacing cut a 1" strip to iron to the bottom edge (wrong side) of your garment. When doing this make sure that the stretch of your of interfacing is running in the same direction as the knit fabric.
Now that your interfacing is in place you can proceed to hem the garment in your desired way. You can see that in the sample picture below I used the interfacing trick on the top piece.
If you take a look at store bought knit wear that you are most likely wearing at the moment, (sorry nudist!) you'll see most have hems with two row of stitching on the outside with a serger like stitch on the inside. (like the picture above)
Manufacturing companies use what is called a coverstitch machine to get this neat and tidy finished hem. But lucky for you, you do not need a coverstitch machine to get this look., Most machines can accommodate a double needle to help you acquire the same look. This needle may look a little funny but it sews a perfectly spaced double row of stitches on the right side of the fabric, with a zigzag on the wrong size. Create Kids Couture has a great blog all about sewing with a double needle that you can find HERE. I hope that this knit overload will help you tackle your fear of knit!
Happy sewing y'all,