Afraid to sew with knits? Once you sew with knits you’ll be surprised at how easy and versatile knits are. I love sewing with knits because you don’t have to be as precise as when sewing with wovens. Fitting isn’t nearly as big of deal as it is with wovens and inserting sleeves is a breeze. If you’re like me and can’t wait to wear your new knit creation you can always get by without a hem for a wearing or two. Just be sure to hem it at some point! Don’t be lazy. Here are four (really five) tips that will get you on your way to sewing with knits.
1. Chose the right needle. When sewing with knits it’s important to use the right needle in the sewing machine. A jersery or ball point needle is the needle to use for knits. There are various sizes with 70/10 being used for finer knits and a 110/120 for heavier knits. The jersey or ball point needles are made especially for knit fabrics, the tip of the needle is shaped so that it will not damage or break knit fibers.
2. Placement of pattern. Be sure to place your pattern pieces for knit garments so that the greatest stretch runs horizontally NOT vertically. Think of the garment going around your body. If new to knits consult your pattern directions and layout guide for proper placement of knits.
3. Sergers are perfect for creating knit garments. However, when I didn’t oil my serger for 10 years (what was I thinking!) and subsequently had to take it to the repair shop because, well you know, I got along quite well without it when sewing with knits. If using a sewing machine use a zig-zag stitch and gently stretch the fabric as you go. Set the width to 0.5 and the length to 2.5 and you are good to go.
4. Some knits are more stable and easier to sew with. T-shirt knits I’ve found are wonderful to work with. Others like jersey, super fine knits and tissue knits curl like crazy. For first timer’s skip the tissue and super fine knits until you have some experience under you belt. If you do have knit fabric that curls try using spray starch to control the curling. One option I used is fabric glue within the seam allowances. Some knits preform better if you don’t have to pre-wash but if the knit has any natural fiber in it or a rayon blend it should be pre-washed for shrinkage.
5. Pick an easy pattern for knits. The easiest out there is a elastic waist skirt. Check out the tutorial from Ellen March on making a quick maxi skirt. If you don’t like the length just adjust the length to suit your needs.
Here are a few resources to check out for more information on sewing with knits. I would highly recommend Nancy Zieman’s book Sew Knits with Confidence for any beginner taking on sewing with knits. As well as Connie Long’s book Sewing with Knits