Sewing with Knit Fabrics – Before you Start
Pre-wash any knit fabric that contains cotton, wool or viscose to allow for possible shrinkage.
Check the direction of the stretch. You’ll want to cut out your garment so that the maximum stretch goes around the body.
Sewing with Knit Fabrics – How Much Stretch?
We classify our fabrics as follows: low stretch, by which we mean less than 25%, medium stretch, by which we mean 25-35% stretch, and high stretch, by which we mean 50% stretch.
On the back of patterns designed for knits, there is often a gauge for you to test the stretch of your fabric. Before you cut out your fabric, test it against the gauge.
Kwik Sew may, for example, say that a particular pattern is designed for low stretch knits. You can actually use the pattern with medium and even high stretch knits – all it means is that you may need to try on the garment before hemming, and run it in if it is a bit loose.
We do this all the time – this sort of flexibility is one of the attractions of sewing with knit fabrics.
We also use patterns that Kwik Sew says are designed for woven fabrics. We frequently use this sort of pattern with low stretch knit fabrics like our Knitwit Ponti and Knitwit Monaco for example.
And at the other end of the scale, where a pattern is sized for a high stretch fabric, we frequently use medium or even low stretch fabrics – we simply cut it out a size bigger than normal, and run the garment in if needed.
Sewing with Knit Fabrics – Cutting out
Use a pair of scissors with a serrated lower blade to grip the fabric while cutting and minimize stretching the fabric during the cutting process. We recommend Mundial Serra Sharp Scissors.
Sewing with Knit Fabrics – Your Machine
You can sew knit fabrics on any sewing machine. Choose a narrow zig-zag stitch which will allow your stitches to stretch with the fabric.
If you are confident with knit fabrics, you can give your garments a more professional finish with an overlocker rather than a sewing machine.
Sewing with Knit Fabrics – Needles
Start each new project with a fresh needle, especially if the fabric contains cotton or wool. Blunt needles can leave holes on the stitching line.
A twin needle will give you professional looking hems. Most machines can work with twin needles, but check your machine’s manual for specific threading instructions. Twin needles will sometimes require tension adjustment. Practice on a bit on scrap fabric before your start.
Sewing with Knit Fabrics – Hemming
If you want to get more professional looking hems and neck edges, Vliesofix Bondaweb Tape is a must.
We use the 25mm Vliesofix tape on most hems, and the 10mm Vliesofix tape on necklines and flared hemlines where you need a narrower hem.
To hem, you iron the tape onto the edge, peel off the backing, turn up the edge and press again. You can now stitch the hem without it stretching. You can actually leave the hem without stitching, just bonded.